Wahlberg’s film angers bomber’s widow

When it comes to those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing, after people commiserate with victims and their families, there’s probably not a whole lot of sympathy left for the widow of bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but attorneys for Katherine Russell say they are looking for fair treatment, not empathy. That, they say, is not what their client is getting from the new film, Patriot’s Day.

According to the attorneys, the film portrays their client in a very negative light, inferring she had prior knowledge of the attack and refused to cooperate with law enforcement after the fact. One of those attorneys, Amato DeLuca, told the Associated Press neither he nor his client has any objection to the film being made … but … “What I quarrel with is the license they take in portraying Katie as someone who did not cooperate and try to save lives. She did everything she could…”

Everything? There will be many who might quibble with that particular account of things, but it’s certainly something an attorney would put out there. But, will it matter? Generally, the public has zero sympathy for the immediate families of those convicted or judged to have been involved in terrorist activities. Without evidence, they may not think they were in on it, but barring evidence to the contrary, they won’t mind much if Hollywood’s depiction of the event doesn’t really shine too nice a light on the widow.

Russell, for her part, was never charged with any crimes associated with either the planning or the execution of the bombing, and DeLuca has repeatedly said she had no knowledge of the event. He asserts Russell was cooperative with investigators from the beginning of the investigation, something the movie seems to dispute.

In the film, the actor playing Russell is depicted as being defiant, uncooperative and insistent on needing an attorney when she is not under investigation. It’s a portrayal that, Russell feels, will create a narrative around her that is not the one she wishes people to see.

On that score, she’s probably right. Films have a way of creating their own reality around a situation, even when the public has some of the pertinent facts. Movie watchers will internalize the film portrayal of facts, mixing them and sometimes overlaying them over the real, and likely less compelling facts of a case. This is the hill Russell and her attorneys will have to climb. It’s steep, perilous, and slippery. Time will tell if they make any progress.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.