Boston Globe Keeps ‘Spotlight’ Off Its Own Reporters

March 16, 2016

As the hardreading staff has previously noted, Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn – among others – vociferously protested the portrayal of him in the movie Spotlight. As Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen wrote last November:

After seeing the film at the Loews theater across from Boston Common, [Dunn] stepped onto the sidewalk and threw up.

The movie sickened him because he is portrayed as someone who minimized the suffering of those who were sexually abused, as someone who tried to steer Globe reporters away from the story, as someone invested in the coverup.

 

Dunn’s lawyer subsequently “sent a letter to the filmmakers, demanding that the offending scene be deleted from the movie.”

Well, that hasn’t happened, but this has, as Mark Shanahan reports in today’s Globe:

B.C. dialogue fiction, ‘Spotlight’ studio says

Open Road Films, the studio that distributed the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight,” issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging that dialogue attributed in the movie to Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn was fictional.

When “Spotlight” was released last fall, Dunn expressed outrage, saying that he was depicted as someone who downplayed the suffering of people who were sexually abused by priests. He enlisted a lawyer to contact Open Road and demand the removal of a scene in the movie in which his character discusses whether previous administrators at Boston College High School were aware of sexual abuse there.

 

At issue was a scene depicting Dunn in a 2002 meeting with Globe reporters Walter “Robby” Robinson and Sacha Pfeiffer (played by Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams). The topic: Allegations of sexual abuse at BC High. The offending dialogue from the character playing Dunn: “It’s a big school, Robby, you know that. And we’re talking about seven alleged victims over, what, eight years?”

The Globe piece includes this statement from Open Road Films:

“As is the case with most movies based on historical events, ‘Spotlight’ contains fictionalized dialogue that was attributed to Mr. Dunn for dramatic effect. We acknowledge that Mr. Dunn was not part of the Archdiocesan coverup. It is clear from his efforts on behalf of the victims at BC High that he and the filmmakers share a deep, mutual concern for victims of abuse.”

What the Globe piece does not include is Robinson’s and Pfeiffer’s previous backing of the movie version (tip o’ the pixel to splendid reader Ember2378 for the link). But the Boston Herald’s Jack Encarnacao helpfully fills in the details.

The [studio’s] statement comes after both the Globe’s Walter Robinson and Sacha Pfeiffer said the scene in the movie captured Dunn’s “spirited public relations defense of BC High” during their first Spotlight team interview with him in 2002 during the paper’s probe of clergy sexual abuse.

 

Robinson and Pfeiffer did not respond to the Herald’s calls seeking comment. We’ll see if anyone else has better luck.

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Now the Spotlight Has Turned On ‘Spotlight’

November 23, 2015

It was bound to happen: First,there was the tremendous acclaim for Spotlight, the film about the Boston Globe’s dogged pursuit of pedophile priests and the Boston archdiocese that sheltered and enabled them.

Now come the complaints.

It started, to the best of our knowledge, with attorney Eric MacLeish in the November 10 Boston Globe Names column.

MacLeish objects to and lauds ‘Spotlight’

The news has been nearly all good for “Spotlight,” director Tom McCarthy’s movie about the Boston Globe investigation that revealed systemic coverup and sexual abuse of children by priests in the Boston Archdiocese. The film, which opened in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles on Friday, is getting rave reviews and is considered a front-runner 04182010_11macleish-7569377to win the Oscar for best picture. But not everyone thinks the movie gets the story right.

Boston attorney Eric MacLeish, who in the early 1990s represented hundreds of victims of sexual abuse by priests, objects to his portrayal in “Spotlight.” In a lengthy Facebook post, MacLeish, played by actor Billy Crudup in the movie, encourages people to see “Spotlight” but adds that “events involving my character are not only inaccurate but the opposite of what occurred.”

 

Namesnik Mark Shanahan adds, “Curiously, MacLeish hasn’t seen the movie and on Sunday told Walter Robinson, former editor of the Globe’s Spotlight team, that he doesn’t plan to see it any time soon.” MacLeish subsequently did some moonwalking on the subject, texting to the Globe that “[m]y character is inaccurately portrayed but the film is too important and too good to let this be a distraction.”

But the distractions keep coming. The redoubtable Kevin Cullen added Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn to the list of the disgruntled in his Globe column yesterday.

When truth ends up on editing room floor

“Spotlight,” the movie about The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of the coverup of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, had its general release on Friday and film critics agree: “Spotlight” is one of the best movies of the year.1000_jack_dunn

Jack Dunn had a different reaction. After seeing the film at the Loews theater across from Boston Common, he stepped onto the sidewalk and threw up.

The movie sickened him because he is portrayed as someone who minimized the suffering of those who were sexually abused, as someone who tried to steer Globe reporters away from the story, as someone invested in the coverup.

 

Dunn is a BC High graduate and a member of the school’s board of trustees. He told Cullen, “The things they have me saying in the movie, I never said . . . But worse is the way they have me saying those things, like I didn’t care about the victims, that I tried to make the story go away. The dialogue assigned to me is completely fabricated and represents the opposite of who I am and what I did on behalf of victims. It makes me look callous and indifferent.”

And not just him, Cullen adds:

Dunn isn’t the only real person portrayed in the film who has a beef with McCarthy. Steve Kurkjian, a legendary Globe reporter, is portrayed as a curmudgeon who was dismissive of the importance of the story. That couldn’t be further from the truth . . .

 

So that’s three now.

As night follows day, the Boston Herald picked up the story and added a fourth name to the list today.

‘Spotlight’ injustices claimed

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 2.45.51 PM

Four people who played real-life roles in the uncovering of the Boston clergy sex-abuse scandal say the new film “Spotlight” has put false words in their mouths — and some are demanding apologies and cuts in the movie that showcases the Boston Globe’s reporting.

Boston College public affairs director Jack Dunn, former Globe reporter Stephen Kurkjian, former Globe publisher Richard Gilman, and victim lawyer Eric MacLeish all say their actions were misrepresented in a way that casts them in a negative light, apparently in an effort to add drama to the film.

 

The Gilman piece – about fact vs. fiction in the movie – appeared in the Arizona Daily Star a few days ago.

Quite intentionally there was no internal discussion whatsoever of potential [business]consequences.

So it is to my extreme dismay that I’m shown on the screen giving voice to one such business concern — exactly the type of thing I had purposely avoided in the few interactions about the investigation. The only true aspect of that brief scene in my office is the outcome: We would challenge the Church in court.

 

Funny, “Spotlight” is being challenged in court, too. As Cullen noted yesterday, “[Jack Dunn’s] lawyer sent a letter to the filmmakers, demanding that the offending scene be deleted from the movie . . .”

We’ve got plenty of eight-to-five says that never happens.