This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
If Mitt Romney has, perhaps, soft-pedaled his Mormon faith as he campaigns for the presidency, PBS's "Frontline" won't.
Filmmaker Michael Kirk promises that when "The Choice 2012" airs nationally on Oct. 9, "We are going full speed, ears back, head down, right at it to understand it in every possible way."
He promised to delve into "every bit of it his mission to France, and the politics of it. I think when we are done, you'll understand it in a much better way."
Which is the point for "Frontline." Since 1988, the various editions of "The Choice" have proven to be some of the most enlightening of the presidential campaigns.
"The Choice 2012" will profile both Romney and President Barack Obama, just as previous editions have done every four years since 1988. Four years ago, Kirk profiled John McCain and Obama, but he promises the Obama parts of the 2012 edition will be much more than just a rehash.
"A lot of people think they know everything about Barack Obama," Kirk said, adding he had gathered much new material. "And you've got a candidate in Romney who seems very controlled, very hidden, in some ways in terms of the major events that have happened in his life, his Mormonism, his faith, and his life in the business world in Bain Capital."
The difference with "The Choice" is that it doesn't operate on a daily news deadline. There's upwards of a year of research and interviews that are gathered into the two-hour program.
"And we have found much to our surprise a very interesting and different Obama even than we reported on in 2008," Kirk said. "And Mitt Romney, surprise of all surprises, his story turns out to not only be very important, but also engaging and interesting."
Kirk, in fact, made "The Choice" in 2000 and again in 2008. And not only did he get deep inside Obama in the 2008 film, but also has reported on Obama and on the politics of this administration since then.
He's in the midst of reporting on Romney and his campaign, and promises the GOP candidate's religion will be a major focus of "The Choice."
"Faith is a very, very big part of who Mitt Romney is," Kirk said. "And he may not want to talk about it for reasons that have to do with the faith itself their perception of our prejudices about it for those of us who are not Mormon."
Kirk said his reporting has been a fascinating journey, of coming to understand how Romney's Mormonism is threaded through his life. "Mitt Romney is a man of faith, and the faith is Mormonism, and we don't know about it."
At some point during the campaign, Romney will have to deal with Mormonism "in the way that Obama had to deal with race in 2008," Kirk said. "And I think if voters watch the film, they'll be able to deal with it in their terms."
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.