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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