TED DANSON, CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER AND BRIAN DENNEHY STAR IN THE POWERFUL ORIGINAL FILM “OUR FATHERS,” PREMIERING ON SHOWTIME SATURDAY, MAY 21
Based on the Explosive Best-Selling Book About the Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Scandal
LOS ANGELES, April 12, 2005 – On Saturday, May 21 at 8:00 PM ET/PT, Showtime Networks presents the original drama, OUR FATHERS, a sobering look at the discovery of sexually abusive priests over the last five decades in the Boston Diocese. This crisis rocked the diocese to its core and left a string of victimized boys who grew up to be troubled and dysfunctional men. A saga with no real ending, this film only begins to illuminate a scourge that the Church would have continued to disavow were it not for the courageous lawyers, victims and Catholics who came forward to shine a light onto this insidious tragedy.
OUR FATHERS stars Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning actor Ted Danson, Tony® and Emmy® Award-winning actor Christopher Plummer and Golden Globe® and Tony® Award-winning actor Brian Dennehy. Directed by Dan Curtis, from the screenplay by Thomas Michael Donnelly, the film is based on Newsweek journalist David France's powerful best-seller, OUR FATHERS: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal, his searing investigation into the Roman Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal. Curtis, David Kennedy, Gary Howsam and Charles Bloye serve as the film’s executive producers. OUR FATHERS, presented by Showtime in association with Peace Arch Entertainment Group, is a Dan Curtis production.
Revelations over the past three years regarding the sexual abuse which was perpetrated by thousands of priests from across the country has spun the Catholic Church into turmoil. How could so many leaders within the church hierarchy shroud the truth for so long? Why did so many of those involved stand on the sidelines and allow the abuse to continue? From the Vatican to the Archdiocese of Boston, the issue has shaken the Catholic Church to its core. OUR FATHERS tells the moving stories of the individuals who overcame the anguish of their abuse, as well as the crusading lawyers who took on an arrogant and monolithic Church that no one believed would ever admit wrongdoing.
A story that is still sadly ongoing, OUR FATHERS is the first dramatization of this issue, produced with the cooperation of several real-life victims who insisted their names be used in the film. While the movie tells only a portion of France's meticulously researched 650-page book, it does so with restraint and honesty.
OUR FATHERS unfolds in early 2002, when a group of Boston Globe reporters blew open the sexual abuse scandal surrounding Father John J. Geoghan and Boston's now-infamous Cardinal Bernard Law (CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER), who failed to stop the sexual abuse by clergy in his diocese. The passion and courage of Mitchell Garabedian (TED DANSON), one of the first lawyers willing to take on the Church, enabled him to uncover scores of victims and their stories. Secret church documents, pages of court records and private correspondence led Garabedian to Cardinal Law and the decisions he made that impacted the lives of thousands.
Victim Angelo DeFranco’s (DANIEL BALDWIN) determination to make the stories public led Garabedian to one of the key documents of proof in his case. When Garabedian canvasses the families with whom Angelo remembered Father Geoghan spending time, Garabedian meets Mary Ryan (ELLEN BURSTYN), a mother whose seven boys were abused by Geoghan. She was asked by the Church not to go public. Instead, she sent an outraged letter to Cardinal Law and kept a copy of it -- proof that the Cardinal knew about the accusations in 1984.
Meanwhile, Olan Horne (CHRIS BAUER), Gary Bergeron (THOMAS MITCHELL), Bernie McDaid (AIDAN DEVINE) and Tom Blanchette (HUGH THOMPSON), all abused by Father Joseph Birmingham, who is now deceased, discuss the cases popping up all over the country, but none mention Birmingham. They decide to visit lawyer Roderick MacLeish, Jr. with a list of victims from the 70’s through the 80’s. At the Boston attorney’s request, over 30,000 pages of documents are released showing that Cardinal Bernard Law was directly involved with the reassignment of Birmingham, Paul Shanley, and a dozen other Roman Catholic priests, all accused of sexual misconduct. MacLeish proves that keeping these priests in ministry was a deliberate policy designed to limit liability and evade prosecution. Paul Shanley is later arrested in San Diego on an extradition warrant from Boston police.
Father Spagnolia (BRIAN DENNEHY) condemns the cover-up from his own pulpit, and, because of his public display of outrage, his past relationship with a man during a hiatus from the priesthood is revealed. Despite public support and no hard evidence of sexual abuse, he is forced to leave the Church.
Ultimately, Father John Geoghan was sentenced to ten years maximum incarceration for indecent sexual assault on a minor. He was later killed in his prison cell. In December 2002, as the legal assault against Cardinal Law reached a fever pitch, Pope John Paul II accepted Law’s resignation as Archbishop of Boston. Although his public profile faded thereafter, the Cardinal was forced to give a multitude of depositions by, among others, Garabedian, whose determination was not lessened by Law’s removal from power. The perseverance of Garabedian, the other lawyers and the coverage by the Globe made these stories public. The final settlement between the diocese and Garabedian’s clients: $10 million awarded to more than 86 plaintiffs.
A few weeks prior to the start of principal photography on OUR FATHERS in June 2004, it was announced that Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal Bernard Law to a ceremonial job overseeing one of the four major basilicas of Rome, St. Mary Major, granting the former archbishop of Boston a prestigious appointment one week before the Archdiocese of Boston announced that it was closing 65 parishes. The appointment infuriated critics who blamed Law for the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
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