As you know, a big-budget Hollywood movie about The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series on the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal is in the works, and we managed to get our hands on a draft of the script, dated June 2013.
Co-written by Josh Singer, whose name might be familiar to fans of “The West Wing,” and Tom McCarthy, who’s also directing the movie, “Spotlight” tells the story of how a team of Boston Globe reporters and editors discovered and, despite concerns about a possible backlash among the newspaper’s advertisers and Catholic subscribers, chronicled the Archdiocese of Boston’s practice of covering up the crimes of problematic priests.
Even at 131 pages, the script moves briskly, starting with the Eileen McNamara column about pedophile priest John Geoghan that originally piqued the interest of then-Globe editor Marty Baron. To be played in the movie by Liev Schreiber, Baron comes across as fearless, heroic, and mostly humorless. Much is made of his outsider status — “So the new editor of the Globe is an unmarried man of the Jewish faith who hates baseball?” — the clear implication being that if not for Baron’s willingness to pursue the story, the issue of priest sex abuse may not have been so fully investigated.
The other stars of this story, at least according to the screenplay we read, are editor Walter V. Robinson, described as a “Boston everyman,” reporters Michael Rezendes (“good looks, bad haircut”) and Sacha Pfeiffer (“wholesome”), and Mitchell Garabedian, the lawyer who represented several of the victims. (He’s described in the script as “abrasive, to say the least.”) In the movie, Michael Keaton will play Robinson, while Mark Ruffalo will play Rezendes, Rachel McAdams is in discussions to play Pfeiffer, and Stanley Tucci will play Garabedian.
Because every good movie about investigative journalists has to have a scene in a parking garage, the script includes a scene in a parking garage. There are also scenes at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a “crappy” East Boston diner, Faneuil Hall, Ringgold Park in the South End, a courtroom, and, of course, the offices of the Globe.
In the same way President Nixon probably didn’t enjoy “All the President’s Men,” we strongly suspect that former Cardinal Bernard Law will not enjoy “Spotlight.” Law comes across as a villain for concealing the misdeeds of priests. But he’s not alone. One of the better passages in the script is delivered by Garabedian, who says: “This city, Yankees, Irish, making the rest of us feel like we don’t belong. They’re no better than us. Look how they treat their children. Mark my words, Mr. Rezendes, if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.”