"Good Morning America" continued its hyping of "Angels & Demons" on Tuesday, a film that accuses the Catholic Church of participating in a brutal massacre of a secret society. While talking to director Ron Howard, GMA co-host Diane Sawyer mostly glossed over the film's controversial elements and again referred to the movie as a "great, spiritual scavenger hunt."
She prompted the director to spin himself as not wanting a fight, saying, "And you're relieved. 'Cause I read somewhere you said, 'I don't like controversy.'" At no point did she mention Catholic League President William Donohue and his organization's opposition to the film or the nasty column Howard wrote on the Huffington Post where he attacked, "I guess Mr. Donohue and I do have one thing in common: we both like to create fictional tales, as he has done with his silly and mean-spirited work of propaganda" (referring to the group's criticism of the film).
Instead, Sawyer allowed Howard to portray himself as a non-threatening presenter of new ideas: He asserted, "I'm not a naturally, you know, confrontational person. But, you know, I do like that these Dan Brown movies are thought-provoking." He added, "It can be exciting. You can be entertained. And maybe there is something to think about or talk about on the way home, if you want to." There was no discussion during the interview of what was fact and what was fiction in the film.
If Sawyer had been talking to the director of a movie that featured Muslims or Jews of participating in a (fictional) killing spree, wouldn't the ABC anchor have discussed the subject? It's one thing for Sawyer to toss softball questions to star Tom Hanks, as she did on Monday, but quite another to do the same thing to the film's director. As noted yesterday, during the release of "The Passion" Sawyer actually psychoanalyzed Mel Gibson and the possible motives behind his film about Jesus Christ.
A transcript of the May 12 segment, which aired at 8:35am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: Anyway, I want to turn to 'Angels & Demons.' I want to play a clip, because this is, this is part of this great, spiritual scavenger hunt where one clue seems to mean one thing. And you get there and it suddenly means something radically different. And they're searching for a clue about Raphael Sanzio, the painter.
RON HOWARD: Yes.
SAWYER: And here is Tom Hanks and Ayelet-
HOWARD: Zurer. And they're rushing to try to save the first Cardinal.
SAWYER: Right. They're going to try and save someone that's about to be killed.
[Action clip from "Angels & Demons.]
SAWYER: So, the Catholic Church this time has been comparatively, compared to "The Da Vinci Code," they have been quiet.
HOWARD: Well, here's the thing about the two movies. Directorially, they were entirely different. "The Da Vinci Code" was first and foremost, really, about these very provocative ideas. And, you know, that's what made the book such a best-seller. In this case, it- while it's smart, and all that, it really is about the clues. It's a thriller.
SAWYER: The countdown on the clock.
HOWARD: It's not about talking. You know, it's about being in motion.
SAWYER: And you're relieved. 'Cause I read somewhere you said, 'I don't like controversy. I don't really want people to-'
HOWARD: I'm not a naturally, you know, confrontational person. But, you know, I do like that these Dan Brown movies are thought-provoking. And the fact that you can go, it can be fun. It can be exciting. You can be entertained. And maybe there is something to think about or talk about on the way home, if you want to.
SAWYER: Well, the hairdressers protection society, however, has weighed in on the fact that you changed Tom Hanks' hair from "The Da Vinci Code." How did you decide to give him- well, you gave him a cut.
HOWARD: Well, we did. We decided to give Bob a trim.
SAWYER: Was that because of all of the commenting about his hair?
HOWARD: There was so much commentary about it, which Tom and I thought was absolutely hilarious. But, why have yet another distraction. We figured, it's a few years later. Some girlfriend said, "You know, Bob. You might look good with a hair cut."