CBS Claims ‘Battle Between Tom Hanks And The Vatican’ Over Movie

Allen Pizzey, CBS On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez described the Catholic Church’s refusal to allow filming on Church property of a movie prequel to "The DaVinci Code," starring Tom Hanks, this way: "...the battle between Tom Hanks and the Vatican. You know he's in Rome filming the prequel to 'The Da Vinci Code,' 'Angels and Demons,' and the Church there is up in arms, they're barring them from filming in churches. They believe the film, like the book, is sacrilegious."

On Wednesday, ABC’s "Good Morning America" featured a story on the controversy in which correspondent Nick Watt declared: "When the might of Rome clashes with a literary behemoth, expect some colorful language. 'An offense against God,' is what a diocese of Rome spokesman just called this book." Watt then later proclaimed: "The Dan Brown express will not be stopped," to which GMA co-host Diane Sawyer replied: "Yes, Nick, I mean that's the irony, isn't it? The more the Church complains, probably the better it is for the business."

Meanwhile, on Thursday’s "Early Show," correspondent Allen Pizzey explained: "Fans of the book, 'Angels and Demons,' keep streaming into the churches in Rome where the plot unfolds. But the film crew turning it into a movie has been banned from them and any other Church property. The plot is not overly anti-Church, but some of the most graphic scenes are not something with which the Church wants to be associated."

Pizzey then played a clip of a priest describing one of those "not overly anti-Church" scenes: "I mean it's kind of hard to get permission to film two murders, especially when the two victims are Cardinals and one dies by having earth stuffed in his mouth and the other one is set on fire hanging above the altar with the sanctuary lamps."

After describing "one of a string of glaring errors" in the ‘Angels and Demons’ book, Pizzey remarked that: "But it is the book and movie of 'The Da Vinci Code,' rather than the errors in 'Angels and Demons' that seems to be the unforgivable sin. A Vatican spokesman said that author Dan Brown had quote 'turned the Gospels upside down to poison the faith.’"

Pizzey also highlighted a tour guide in Rome, Angelo Esposito, who brings tourists on an ‘Angels and Demons’ tour. According to Esposito, "You never get a priest coming up yelling at you 'get out you heretics,' sometimes they might be a little bit edgy because they know it's 'Angels and Demons.' But at the same time, I think they're aware that's, you know, a work of fiction and it's bringing people into they're their churches."

At the end of the segment Pizzey concluded: "And it's a fair bet that those who see them in the movies won't know they aren't looking at the real churches. Whether the Vatican likes it or not."

The Media Research Center’s Tim Graham conducted a study in 2006, entitled "The Trashing of the Christ," contrasting the positive media coverage of "The DaVinci Code" with the negative coverage of "The Passion."

Here are the full transcripts of the "Early Show" and "Good Morning America" segments:

THE EARLY SHOW

06/19/08

7:02AM TEASER:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: We have a lot coming up on our end as well, including the battle between Tom Hanks and the Vatican. You know he's in Rome filming the prequel to 'The Da Vinci Code,' 'Angels and Demons,' and the Church there is up in arms, they're barring them from filming in churches. They believe the film, like the book, is sacrilegious. So ahead this morning we will take you to Rome to get the scoop.

7:47AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: Tom Hanks has run up against his biggest challenge yet -- the Vatican. We went to Rome to get the latest on the dispute over his latest film, 'Angels and Demons.' Here's CBS News correspondent, Allen Pizzey.

ALLEN PIZZEY: Fans of the book, 'Angels and Demons,' keep streaming into the churches in Rome where the plot unfolds. But the film crew turning it into a movie has been banned from them and any other Church property. The plot is not overly anti-Church, but some of the most graphic scenes are not something with which the Church wants to be associated.

GREG APPARCEL: I mean it's kind of hard to get permission to film two murders, especially when the two victims are Cardinals and one dies by having earth stuffed in his mouth and the other one is set on fire hanging above the altar with the sanctuary lamps.

PIZZEY: That takes place here in the Church of Santa Maria Della Vittoria, which the book puts in the wrong piazza, one of a string of glaring errors. The novel has the sculpture on one of Rome's most famous fountains, the four rivers in Piazza Navona representing Europe. In fact, they denote the Danube in Europe, the Nile in Africa, the Ganges in Asia, and the Plate in South America.

TOM HANKS: Symbols are a language -- dear God.

PIZZEY: But it is the book and movie of 'The Da Vinci Code,' rather than the errors in 'Angels and Demons' that seems to be the unforgivable sin. A Vatican spokesman said that author Dan Brown had quote 'turned the Gospels upside down to poison the faith.’ And that it was unacceptable to turn churches into sets for what he called 'mendacious films.' Nonetheless, this guide says he takes at least a hundred tourists a week on an 'Angels and Demons' tour and no one objects.

ANGELO ESPOSITO: You never get a priest coming up yelling at you 'get out you heretics,' sometimes they might be a little bit edgy because they know it's 'Angels and Demons.' But at the same time, I think they're aware that's, you know, a work of fiction and it's bringing people into they're their churches.

PIZZEY: And it's a fair bet that those who see them in the movies won't know they aren't looking at the real churches. Whether the Vatican likes it or not. Allen Pizzey, CBS News, Rome.

 

GOOD MORNING AMERICA

6/18/08

7:31AM SEGMENT:

DIANE SAWYER: But first, let's turn to the Vatican taking on Hollywood, banning a new Tom Hanks movie from filming inside Rome's churches. He's starring in the film adaptation of Dan Brown's popular book "Angels and Demons," the prequel to "The Da Vinci Code." But church officials are saying the movie is an offense against God. Why? ABC's Nick Watt has more from London. Nick?

NICK WATT: Good morning, Diane. 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. When the might of Rome clashes with a literary behemoth, expect some colorful language. An offense against God," is what a diocese of Rome spokesman just called this book. "Angels & Demons" sightseeing tours of Rome are very popular these days but if you're Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, you can't get in to some key location with a camera.

FATHER JOHN WAUCK (Professor, Holy Cross University): 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?

WATT: "Angels and Demons" is set during a conclave to choose a new pope. Four cardinals are murdered, apparently by an ancient and secret society. Producers wanted to shoot at two churches, one where Robert Langdon finds the body of a cardinal, another where he finds a cardinal burning to death. Access, denied. "Normally we read the script," said Monsignor Marco Fibbi. "This time it was not necessary." "The name Dan Brown was enough." They remember "The Da Vinci Code." They hated the movie and urged a boycott. When the book hit stores, this happened. A phantasmagorical cocktail of inventions was what Cardinal Bertone called the book. Church leaders were aghast that Brown's suggestion that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children. In 2004, the author gave ABC's Elizabeth Vargas a rare interview about "The Da Vinci Code."

ELIZABETH VARGAS: Why do you think your book has touched such a nerve?

DAN BROWN: The mysteries of spirituality, the Holy Grail, the origins of our religions, these are topics that resonate in a deep, deep spiritual level, really at the core of the human psyche.

WATT: Will the "Angels and 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. 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 and Demons" due out May, next year. Diane?

SAWYER: Yes, Nick, I mean that's the irony, isn't it? The more the church complains, probably the better it is for the business. Who knows? Anyway, thanks so much to you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC