Josh Singer Q&A: ‘Spotlight’ writer
“I will say, as exciting as that was, I think just that whole morning was a great morning for the movie,” recalls screenwriter Josh Singer as we chat via webcam about his Oscar nomination for penning the original screenplay of “Spotlight.” The film is the frontrunner to win Best Picture.
Singer, who co-wrote the script with director Tom McCarthy, expressed his pride in the film's strong showing. “I went to bed the night before thinking, ‘If we got five, that would be extraordinary,’ and we got six. I was just totally thrilled.”
“Spotlight” details the efforts of reporters at the Boston Globe to expose the cover-up by the local Catholic Archdiocese of pedophile priests. The film celebrates the journalists as heroes, while turning a sad eye to the growing disappearance of newspapers throughout the country.
Singer, who got his start writing “The West Wing” and “Law & Order: SVU,” met McCarthy when his script for “The Fifth Estate,” a biopic concerning WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, was making the rounds. As he explains, “Michael Sugar, who’s my manager, and Steve Golin, responded well to the script, and they put it in front of Nicole (Rocklin) and Blye (Pagon Faust), who had brought ‘Spotlight’ to them.” After a first meeting via Skype, the two men decided to collaborate.
He credits his work on "The Fifth Estate" as a starting point for “Spotlight.” “I thought, there we’re talking about what’s happened to journalism,” he explains. “What if we just show great journalism? Show what good local journalism looks like. Maybe we’ll wind up having people talk about the issues around all of these metro dailies going out of business, and all of these reporters losing their jobs, just because they’ll see what great journalism can do.”
Following wins with the Los Angeles, Boston and National Society of film critics as well as the Critics' Choice Awards, Singer and McCarthy are heavy favorites to win the Oscar. They are also competing at the BAFTAs, Indie Spirits, and the Writers Guild of America.