Spotlight: A Synopsis

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SYNOPSIS

Spotlight tells the astonishing story of the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Spotlight" team of investigative journalists, who in 2002 shocked the city and the world by exposing the Catholic Church's systematic cover-up of widespread pedophilia perpetrated by more than 70 local priests.

When newly appointed editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) arrives from Miami to take charge of the Globe in the summer of 2001, he immediately directs the Spotlight team to follow up on a column about a local priest accused of having sexually abused dozens of young parishioners over the course of 30 years. Fully aware that taking on the Catholic Church in Boston will have major ramifications, Spotlight editor Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James) begin delving more deeply into the case.

As they confer with victims' attorney Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), interview adults who were molested as children, and pursue the release of sealed court records, it becomes clear that the Church's systematic protection of predatory priests is far more wide-reaching than any of them ever imagined. The Globe publishes its blockbuster exposé in January 2002, leading the way for similar revelations in more than 200 other cities around the world.

Presented by Open Road Films, Spotlight is directed by Tom McCarthy and stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d'Arcy James and Billy Crudup. Written by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer. Director of Photography is Masanobu Takayanagi, Production designer is Stephen H. Carter. Costume designer is Wendy Chuck. Executive producers are Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King, Pierre Omidyar, Michael Bederman, Bard Dorros, Tom Ortenberg, Peter Lawson and Xavier Marchand. Produced by Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust.

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

Although isolated cases of sex abuse by Catholic priests had been reported by the Boston Globe prior to the Spotlight investigation, the team's in-depth, scrupulously fact-checked exposé revealed the scope of clergy-perpetrated crimes—and the Church's involvement in protecting their clergy from the criminal justice system—with never-before-seen precision.

Producers Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust spearheaded the effort to transform the dramatic story of the Boston Globe's sex-abuse investigation into a movie. "We thought this was the most incredible thing we'd ever heard," says Faust. "Spotlight took on this institution that had power, money and resources, and showed people that nobody is untouchable."

Rocklin and Faust approached Anonymous Content about partnering on the feature film. "We immediately felt like we had to be involved in bringing this epic journey to the screen," recalls Anonymous founder and CEO Steve Golin. "Spotlight is a thrilling story and at the same time, it's about something significant."

Spotlight's potential to inspire real-world progress also resonated with Participant Media. "When our friends at Anonymous Content told us they were developing this story, we jumped at the chance to help bring it to the screen," explains Jonathan King, Participant's executive vice president of narrative film.

To write the script, Rocklin and Faust brought on acclaimed director, writer and actor Tom McCarthy, director of such acclaimed independent films as The Station Agent, Win Win and The Visitor, and Oscar®-nominee for his original screenplay for 2010's hit animated film Up. McCarthy brought on former "West Wing" scribe Josh Singer. "Tom has an incredible talent for revealing the human heart at the center of complicated stories," says King.

McCarthy responded to the saga on multiple levels. "I thought it was fascinating to see how this outsider, Marty Baron, comes from Miami and on his first day at the Boston Globe introduces this idea of investigating a possible cover-up by the Catholic Church. A very bold move."

Additionally, the Spotlight effort offered an opportunity to craft a cinematic love letter to long-form journalism. "I'm extremely concerned with how little high-end investigative journalism is out there right now compared to what we had 15 years ago," McCarthy says. "I saw this movie as an opportunity to show by example: Here is the kind of impact that can happen when you have well-funded journalism done by experienced professionals. I mean, what could be more important than the fate of our children?"