ABC Reporter Sides with Hollywood against Rome

Is saying no to Ron Howard and Tom Hanks – Tom Hanks – a greater sin than offending God?

On ABC's Good Morning America this morning, reporter Nick Watt sounded contemptuous while reporting that the Vatican denied Hollywood director Ron Howard permission to shoot scenes in two of Rome's churches.  With an overwrought inflection, Watt reported that Catholic officials view the book being made into a movie, Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, as “an offense against God.”

When Watt explains that the producers wanted to use the churches to film two scenes from the book, the words “Access Denied” blaze in red letters across the screen. 

Watt opined, “Well, this is a small victory for the Catholic Church in its long-running battle with Dan Brown.  They can't stop him writing books like Angels and Demons, but they can stop film crews from trudging all over their sacred turf.”

The three-minute story featured repeated slaps at Catholic figures and a flattering 15-second clip of Brown, but ABC provided only a single modest sop to balance, a Catholic priest delivering a 10-second defense of the Vatican's decision.  Holy Cross University professor John Wauck said, “It would be a bit like someone coming up to you and saying, we're going to make a movie that presents your family as evil and ridiculous. Can we film in your house?”

The last Brown novel made into a movie, The Da Vinci Code, outraged many Catholics by claiming that Jesus Christ produced children with Mary Magdalene and the Catholic Church hid the evidence for two thousand years.  The movie starred Hollywood megastar Tom Hanks, who is reprising the lead role in Angels and Demons.


Watt finished his story on an upbeat note, saying, “Will the Angels & Demons controversy hurt?  Unlikely. Despite the Catholic outrage, The Da Vinci Code did all right. The book has sold 80 million copies and the movie grossed 500 million dollars. Now, no comment this morning from the studio. No doubt they'll just re-create those churches on a lot in Hollywood. The Dan Brown express will not be stopped. The movie Angels & Demons due out May next year. Diane?”

Good Morning America host Diane Sawyer concluded, with a broad, smirking smile, “Yes, Nick, I mean that's the irony, isn't it?  The more the church complains, probably the better it is for the business.”

See Newsbusters for an analysis of's story yesterday.

Brian Fitzpatrick is senior editor at the Culture and Media Institute, and Julia Seward is an intern.