If you’ve read Nancy Many’s memoir, My Billion-Year Contract, you know that she had one of the most amazing careers in Scientology — from working directly with church founder L. Ron Hubbard, to spying for the church on its enemies, to running the Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles, and to being sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force prison detail in Florida while she was five months pregnant.
To our amazement, all of that gets covered in the one-hour dramatization of Many’s life which is airing next week on ID, the true-crime sister network of the Discovery Channel, at 10 pm Eastern. The episode kicks off a new ID series called “Dangerous Persuasions,” which portrays good people manipulated into doing bad things. In Canada, the show debuts on January 18 on the History Channel, and will kick off a new series by the name of “Brainwashed.” Well-acted and produced, the detailed and accurate docudrama also features Nancy narrating the story, as you can see in the teaser video the network has posted.
We have more peeks at the program which demonstrate how carefully its producers re-enacted this troubling slice of Scientology history.
Many opens the program by describing why she was susceptible to Scientology’s come-on as a 19-year-old in Boston in 1971. With the Vietnam War as a backdrop and her own life somewhat adrift, she said Scientology’s purported aims of improving the world really appealed to her, and she enjoyed her early auditing using the e-meter, the device whose contacts she holds in this still image.
We love how Many drops the first hint that, despite her enthusiasm, there might be something out of joint about this new group she has joined up with: “All the books were by one author.”
But such qualms aside, Many was an eager new recruit, and before long had even joined Scientology’s hardcore Sea Organization, whose workers sign billion-year contracts. She was then asked by the shadowy Guardian’s Office to help out with its covert operations. In one assignment, she was instructed to get a job as a secretary at a local community mental health clinic. That gave her access to the personnel files of its doctors, which she stole and took home at night so the Guardian’s Office could copy them. Similar operations were being run, she says, at the Better Business Bureau, American Psychiatric Association, and the Attorney General’s office.
After that, Nancy was assigned to tail a woman named Paulette Cooper, who had, a few years earlier, put out a scathing book about the church, The Scandal of Scientology. The show dramatizes Nancy following Paulette, and then Cooper herself is interviewed and has really choice things to say about Scientology…
After spying on Cooper, Nancy left Boston to work at Scientology’s mecca in Clearwater, Florida, and that’s where she met fellow Sea Org officer Chris Many. The two were married, and soon Nancy was pregnant.
Then, her ordeal really began. After showing insufficient enthusiasm for an L. Ron Hubbard initiative (the only reason she can come up with), Nancy was punished by being ordered to the Rehabilitation Project Force, the Sea Org’s prison-like detail. She was assigned to living in a parking garage while five months pregnant.
More highs and lows were in store for Many as she finally escaped the Sea Org and then Scientology itself, and paid for it with a severe mental breakdown. And that’s dramatized as well.
Seriously, the amount of material they cover in this single hour is rather startling. And throughout, Many’s narration is calm and concise.
We’ll leave you with one final image, of Nancy’s sadistic Scientology interrogator who drove her to a breakdown once Many had admitted that she wanted out of the church. Over 10 days, for up to 10 hours a day, this woman mentally tortured her, Many says. The scene, like the others, is captured in an arresting way by the show’s producers…
The only thing we found truly missing from the show was a disclaimer that should have been made to viewers: interrogations and family separations and the RPF for Sea Org members have only gotten worse since Nancy’s time, ex-members tell us.
Posted by Tony Ortega on January 10, 2013 at 04:30