HBO’s Church of Scientology Documentary Set to Piss Off a Lot of Celebs


*Cue the lawyers and other supporters of the controversial Church of Scientology because some ish is about to go down! For one, when you start attacking people’s faith base, well – ‘dems fightin’ words…and for another, HBO must have their dukes up because they are putting the finishing touches on a scandalous documentary on the Church, according to The Hollywood Reporter, who describes the film as “a bombshell” that will reveal why it has a hold on some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Er, you DO know brother, Isaac Hayes, was one of ’em, right?

The film is set to air sometime in 2015. And the only casting info released by HBO is that Academy Award winning actor, Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) is confirmed.

You can expect new revelations about the controversial church as well as some of its famous followers, like Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Isaac Hayes was also a longtime devotee prior to his death on August 10, 2008. In his final years, Hayes was the voice of Chef on the popular series, “South Park,” but according to celebrity writer Roger Friedman, who called himself a “friend” of Hayes, the Church wanted Hayes out because the show “lampooned Scientology.”

Friedman writes,

Push came to shove on Nov. 16, 2005, when ‘South Park’ aired its hilarious “Trapped in the Closet” episode spoofing Tom Cruise and John Travolta. “South Park” creator Matt Stone told me later that Isaac had come to him in tears.

“He said he was under great pressure from Scientology, and if we didn’t stop poking at them, he’d have to leave,” Stone said.

According to Friedman, the conversation ended there. Isaac performed Chef’s signature song at the Blues Ball a week later with great delight. Although he was devoted to Scientology, he also loved being part of “South Park.” He was proud of it. And, importantly, it gave him income he badly needed.

Isaac Hayes
Isaac Hayes was said to be a devoted Scientologist

The film,  allegedly based on the book, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright, could be finished as early as January 2015, just in time for submission into the Sundance Film Festival.

Still, its probably no assumption that no matter how well documented it is, no matter how well it sits in the truth, the notoriously litigious Church of Scientology is likely going to have a problem with it.

Wright’s book apparently stemmed from his 2011 New Yorker Magazine profile of filmmaker, Oscar winner and former Scientologist, Paul Haggis, who incurred the church’s wrath following his very public exit in 2009; followed by criticism in the media of its teachings and behavior toward members.

But HBO is not worried about backlash. According to Sheila Nevins, HBO’s president of documentary films, they are ready for anything. “We have probably 160 lawyers (looking at the film),” she told THR.

This turns out to be an exaggeration for effect, but it is true the cable network has many lawyers on standby, which they might need.

For instance, “Going Clear,” a National Book Award finalist in the U.S., was never published in Britain because the church exerted pressure on the British publisher, which then dropped it on advice from its lawyers, according to a Huffington Post article.

When THR excerpted Wright’s book in January 2013, it focused on the church’s “seduction” of Cruise and its role in his divorce from second wife Nicole Kidman. A church spokeswoman, Karin Pouw, responded with a long, written statement critical of Wright.

“The one thing ‘clear’ about Lawrence Wright’s book is that he continues to carry water for a handful of angry, bitter individuals led by a pathological liar still consumed with vengeance a decade after being removed for malfeasance. Mr. Wright produced a work of fiction that does little more than regurgitate six decades of false, bizarre tabloid allegations about the religion’s Founder, its leadership and its prominent members,” the statement said.

HBO did a documentary in 1998 called “Dead Blue: Surviving Depression,” and although not specifically about Scientology, the film angered Scientologists and inspired protests at HBO’s NYC headquarters because it presented anti-depressant drugs in a positive light.

Stay tuned.


7 thoughts on “HBO’s Church of Scientology Documentary Set to Piss Off a Lot of Celebs”

  1. It´s about time for the Cult of Scientology´s long and sordid criminal history to get a broader public airing. Bring it, HBO!

  2. Who? Tom cruise? His publicist would have to be an imbecile to let him speak the name of that place again. Not after the berating of Brook Sheilds post-partum decision to use an anti depressant, thereby alienating his demographic (40, and older, mostly female). Not after the 9 minute mental roller coaster ride he went on trying to describe his positive experience with Scientology (which left waaaay more questions than answers) and not after his wife feeling the need to use burner phones, aliases, and a team of lawyers to escape while he was filming in Iceland, all in fear of the “Church” of Scientology. Look, when your wife needs burner phones and a safe house to begin the divorce process SOMETHING is wrong there. When people have to deal with Scientology, why do they feel the need to hire a dozen attorneys? Ask yourself that question. When I comment on the crimes of the Catholic Church, I don’t worry about hiding my IP address or using a disposable email account, or changing my screen name. I worry about those and more with Scientology.

    Other celebrities? Is Kirstie Alley a celebrity? Or a cautionary tale to stop eating your feelings and get some human friends instead of the pair of Lemurs she talks to at her home zoo. Isaac Hayes (RIP). A handful of actors who do some half decent work. Really no one to fear anymore.

    John Travolta? He should be pissed that Scientology hid his developmentally damaged child from sight because Scientology’s silly motto of “We can help with that” doesn’t apply to conditions like seizures, yet all but refuses to allow any legitimate treatment to prevent the seizure this child died from.

    Why Scientology has a hold of these celebrities? That’s a great question with a simple answer: every confession of every indiscretion, every sexual proclivity, fetish, fantasy, and transgression is recorded and kept in a file that is the sole property of Scientology. Sure you can walk out the door, but be prepared to have the most intimate details of your entire life (and past life) posted on their new web page. Don’t believe me? Look up any high profile member who has left the business (it’s not a church) and within days the ex-member will have a new web page with all the gories, i.e. WhoIsPaulHaggis? Or WhoIsMartyRathbun? WhoIsDebbieCook? It’s always WhoIs______? and the most intimate embarrassing details. Of course the business of Scientology doesn’t claim this public service, it is a quiet favor they do to warn the public about their ex-members who *gasp* had an affair, or god forbid watched porn, not to mention the things the business of Scientology will simply make up to humiliate people who simply wish to leave. Truth is of no concern to Scientology.

    There are many other complicated reasons why Scientology has a “hold” on all its members, not just celebrities. Too many to list here. I do suggest reading The Underground Bunker daily scientology updates. Stranger than fiction. Mike Rinder has a phenomenal blog with jaw dropping historical accounts of what happens to people who try to leave the organization. Even a simple google search will show you recent stalking by high lever Scientologists of a man who’s been out of the church for years.

    This upcoming documentary based on Lawrence Wright’s book Going Clear is NOT an attack on Scientology’s faith. The faith isn’t the problem. It’s the actions that violate not just human rights, but actions that end up in murder (Lisa McPherson) kidnapping, extortion, child abuse and neglect, incarceration in the organizations labor camp for months/years, and the systematic destruction of families by forced disconnection. The organizations faith is another matter. No one really cares about their creation mythology. (Okay, it is pretty strange, but so is mine. Not the point) People care about the thousands of victims whose lives have been ruined by Scientology’s institutional use of Fair Game- revenge- which all but requires members to ruin defectors financially, emotionally, and mentally. All this happens under the banner of a “Church” with billions of dollars, and tax exempt status.

    I would say I hope it pisses the few Scientology celebs off, but that probably won’t happen because Scientologists are not allowed to watch or read anything negative about the “Church.” If they do come across a negative review or program then they must report themselves to the “Church” moral police and PAY to be questioned on whether or not they now experience negative thoughts about the organization (thought crimes) or if they discussed the show with anyone, and they risk being declared a danger to their family and friends within the church aka they risk being labelled a Supressive Person, in which case everyone the member knows and loves must cut them off completely.

    I am not a Scientologist, just a student of comparative Religions. I’ve tried to get the POV of Scientologists, but the most common answer to the question “What is scientology” is “Find out for yourself.” When I watch a video that is promoting Scientology, (titled What is scientology?), I’m bombarded with non-sequitors such as “mathematics” “life” and even “Nuclear Physics” in a strobe like succession, and impart no information at all. If Scientology doesn’t like its public image, or it’s ex-members detailed accounts of abuse, then they should at least try to put out a seemingly rational, cooperative, and relatable example of a Scientologist. Tom Cruise comes off as an arrogant and petty tyrant, and not a very stable one at that. Kirstie Alley – does anyone want to identify with a foul mouthed, angry, food obsessed shut-in? Travolta seems like a nice guy, but his neglect of his son’s special needs to satisfy Scientology’s anti-pharmaceutical crusade is…just beyond beyond.

    The people who ought to be pissed after watching the upcoming documentary are the taxpayers, the IRS, and whichever federal agency is responsible for preventing kidnapping, since there are at least a half dozen scientologists who haven’t been seen in years, and are by all accounts being he’d in the “Church” prison camp, called the Rehabilitation Project Force.

    Scientology has the power to change their revenge policy, and change their public image. I’ve come across some useful information in my research of Scientology – none of it new, or proprietary to Scientology, just a reheat of an old quiche. Not sure I’d call it faith-more like a system of problem solving. No real problem with “faith” but certainly a concern that this is a criminal, fraudulent, dishonest and dangerous organization and it’s ACTIONS are at best a danger to anyone who is involved beyond the basic introductory communication course. If you like Scientology you are much better off with a group of independent Scientologists who won’t exploit you financially, or threaten your well being should you change your mind.

  3. @Lily: THANK YOU for the time, energy, effort and wisdom you put into this response. I sincerely appreciate you.

  4. Good points, Lily. For those who want to find out more about what she´s talking about, check out

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