At least four real-life individuals portrayed in the new Hollywood movie Spotlight are now complaining that they were falsely portrayed in the film, and at least one of them is considering legal action.
For one, Jack Dunn, a trustee at Boston College High School, who is portrayed in the movie as being dismissive of abuse claims at the school, is "emotionally and physically wrecked" by the false and reckless characterization of him in the film.
Fact becomes fiction
News of Dunn's false portrayal was first reported – quite ironically – in an article in the Boston Globe itself.
The next day, the Globe's crosstown rival, the Boston Herald, published an eye-opening piece that found that at least three additional individuals are now complaining that they too were wrongly depicted in the film.
The Herald's Jack Encarnacao reported:
"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.
"'All I want to do is to clear my name, and for the film producers to admit that they fabricated the dialogue to accommodate the narrative of the movie,' Dunn said. 'They manufactured dialogue because they needed a villain, and they chose apparently to make me a villain'."
"Dunn's lawyers have sent 'Spotlight's' distributors a demand letter calling for them to remove an offending scene from the film.
"Asked if he plans to sue, Dunn said, 'We're taking one step at a time'."
Dunn was so upset upon seeing the film, the Globe reports, that after he exited the theater, "he stepped onto the sidewalk and threw up."
In writing about the false portrayals in Spotlight, Gilman, the former Globe publisher, has written, "Some of the fictionalizing is harmless. Some is not. The movie is dealing with real people with real names with real reputations … Injustices are done."
Injustices have been committed, indeed. Spotlight's version of the abuse scandals does violence to the truth, so we are not the least bit surprised.
[ADDENDUM, 3/16/16: Unbelievable. Now that Spotlight won its Oscar, the film's producers have finally admitted that they smeared Boston College's Jack Dunn. In a statement, the producers acknowledged, "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."]
[There is even more. See the headlines. See the editorial cartoons. See the photographs.
Check out the most talked-about new book, Sins of the Press: The Untold Story of The Boston Globe's Reporting on Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church (Amazon.com)]