Blazing ‘Spotlight’: Tom McCarthy’s drama focuses on ‘Boston Globe’ inquiry into Catholic Church coverup

Film Journal

By Daniel Eagan Oct 29, 2015

Rumors of widespread sexual abuse within the Catholic Church were largely just that—rumors—until a 2002 series of Boston Globe articles detailed how the Church hid pedophilia among more than 70 local priests. Spotlight, an Open Road Films release, reveals how the newspaper exposé came about. Already an awards contender, the drama opens in theatres on Nov. 6.

The screenplay, co-written by director Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, focuses on Spotlight, a four-member Globe team which took on long-term investigative projects for the paper. In the script, which is structured like a mystery, Marty Baron (played by Liev Schreiber), the Globe’s new editor and an outsider to Boston politics, pushes the team to dig into abuse accusations about John Geoghan, a priest.

Speaking by phone from his office, McCarthy emphasizes how important a part research played in preparing and writing the script. Much like the Spotlight team, McCarthy and Singer had to be meticulously accurate. Get anything wrong, from accents to addresses or clothes, and viewers could dismiss the entire story.

“I guess our main concern was trying to remain true to the spirit of those journalists and the reporting they did,” McCarthy says. “That was our guiding principle. What would the reporters do? What would Marty Baron do? Understanding of course that our job’s a little different, we’re telling a narrative feature and we have to do it in two hours or so.”

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