‘Spotlight’ Settlement: Open Road Admits Distorting Identity of Real-Life Character
By Jeff Sneider
March 15, 2016
No money changed hands in the arrangement, which arrives several weeks after the film won Best Picture
“Spotlight” distributor Open Road has issued a new statement in response to Jack Dunn, the Boston College High School board of trustees member who said the film did not accurately portray him and his meeting with Boston Globe staffers investigating pedophile priests.
“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 cover-up. 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,” Open Road said in a statement released to the media on Tuesday.
The statement is a result of a private settlement between Open Road and Dunn that did not involve any money changing hands, an individual with knowledge of the arrangement told TheWrap.
Dunn saw “Spotlight” and was worried the film implicated him in the Catholic Church’s cover-up of years of sexual abuse by its priests, though by most accounts, the community of Boston did not hold him responsible for what happened in any way. Nevertheless, Dunn subsequently came after Open Road, which issued a statement on Nov. 23 about the scene in question.
“The production believes in everyone’s right to speak their minds on the complicated legacy of this important story. Jack Dunn is no exception. However, we disagree with his characterization of the scene as misleading,” an Open Road spokesperson said.
The production company went on to say that both then-Boston Globe editor Walter Robinson and Spotlight Team reporter Sacha Pfeiffer reviewed the footage in question and said the it reflected “the substance of what occurred during this initial interview at BC High.”
Furthermore, they believe the scene “portrays Mr. Dunn acting as any reasonably cautious representative of BC High would have during a first meeting, especially one who is a public relations professional, alumnus, and trustee.”
Dunn is a longtime communications representative for Boston College who holds a board seat at Boston College High School, where multiple students were molested by cleric teachers, blasted the movie’s take on the news events. He objected to his depiction in Tom McCarthy’s film, where he is portrayed by actor Gary Galone, and said the film made him vomit.
“The things they have me saying in the movie, I never said,” Dunn said in an interview with The Boston Globe.
For Dunn, the most offending scene depicted a conversation he and Boston College High School President Bill Kemeza had at the request of then-Boston Globe editor Walter Robinson, to discuss the abuse allegations that took place at the institution.
In the script, Galone’s Dunn is confronted by Michael Keaton as Robinson, and Rachel McAdams portraying Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer. Dunn said he felt the dialogue in the scene minimized his actual concern for abuse victims.
“It’s a big school … and we’re talking about seven alleged victims over, what, eight years?” the movie version of Dunn said.
“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,” Dunn told The Globe. “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.”
News of the settlement comes several weeks after “Spotlight” won Best Picture. The agreement was likely struck after Oscar voting concluded so as not to bring any negative attention to the film.