Our celebrity sources in the Church of Scientology tell us that church leader David Miscavige is planning a bold stunt later this month at the 44th annual Celebrity Centre gala in Hollywood, California.
On July 8 we revealed that Leah Remini was breaking away from Scientology in part because she dared to ask, persistently, about the disappearance of Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, who hasn’t been seen by the general membership of the church in six years. Since then, the mainstream media has given momentum to a question that has been asked for years in Internet forums: “Where’s Shelly?”
As we reported earlier, we believe that in late 2005 or early 2006, Shelly Miscavige, following a row with her husband, was moved to a small, secret compound in the mountains above Los Angeles where only about 12 to 15 other Scientologists work in seclusion. And except for being allowed to go to the funeral of her father in the summer of 2007, Shelly has been at that compound ever since. But now, we hear, with so much press about her disappearance, she’s going to be trotted out for cameras with the church’s other celebrities.
Usually held in the third week of August each year, the gala takes place at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre — a former hotel built in 1927 in the style of a French chateau on Franklin Avenue that the church has owned since 1973 — for a gala that in recent years has attracted the usual suspects, including John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Nancy Cartwright, and Kirstie Alley.
The annual event usually garners little media attention. But this year may be different. Will press get access to Shelly if she shows up? Will other celebrities get the chance to talk to her? For some answers, we talked to someone who used to make those kinds of plans when he was the second-highest official in the church, Marty Rathbun.
“Shelly will drill for two weeks on the no-answer answer until she has it down cold,” Rathbun tells us. “She’ll be sitting at Miscavige’s table, and she’ll have Lou (Miscavige’s personal “communicator” Laurisse ‘Lou’ Stuckenbrock) and someone else flanking her to keep people away.”
Rathbun agrees that if Miscavige has his wife attend the gala, her first church event in more than seven years, it will be so tightly orchestrated, even the other celebrities will have little opportunity to ask Shelly a question of any importance.
“It will be a controlled environment, and there won’t be any Leah Reminis there with the balls to ask her questions,” he says.
And Rathbun says it won’t be the first time a Scientology figure who had been made an “unperson” by Miscavige was trotted out under public pressure.
Twice, in 2011 and 2012, Rathbun says, Miscavige pulled Heber Jentzsch out of “The Hole” to make appearances to tamp down criticism. “He did it when we started a ‘Free Heber’ campaign at my blog after Karen de la Carriere made noise about Heber being in the Hole, and then they did it again a year later when Karen put on a full court press after her son Alexander died.”
Karen was formerly married to Heber, who remains, nominally, the president of the Church of Scientology International, a post he’s held since 1982. But in 2004, Rathbun and former church spokesman Mike Rinder witnessed that Jentzsch was one of the top executives imprisoned in The Hole, where it’s believed that he has remained to this day, except for several brief appearances for the sake of public relations. Only when pressure was applied from the outside did Jentzsch get rolled out to be seen by other church members and then went right back to the base near Hemet.
Rathbun says that kind of pressure is now being applied to Miscavige to produce his wife.
“The significance of the whole thing is that Leah Remini impinged,” Rathbun says, using a Scientology word for having significant impact. “We’ve been calling them out on this for six years now, but only now is Miscavige going to give proof of life. It’s a testament to how much attention Leah got for this.”
It’s a sign, he says, that someone has put pressure on Miscavige, someone he can’t ignore.
“Usually he bunkers down. But he can’t bunker down for this. Which means he’s hearing it from someone of high enough importance and he realized he had to do something,” Rathbun says. “Someone like a Kirstie Alley or a Bodhi Elfman got to Miscavige and was complaining, and Miscavige realized if he didn’t do something he could have another Leah problem on his lines.”
Alley? Elfman? We asked why Miscavige would be affected by actors rather than, say, advice from top church attorneys.
“He doesn’t care what the attorneys say. What Miscavige values is celebrity.”
If Shelly is at the gala later this month, could there be a risk to the church that she’d use the opportunity to break away?
“If Shelly wanted to get away, it would have happened years ago,” Rathbun says. “Over six years, there are definitely opportunities. and this is not one of them.”
Rathbun explains that Shelly has been spending the last six years working, and may be convinced that she’s advancing L. Ron Hubbard’s interests. As we reported earlier, we believe she’s been working and living at the Church of Spiritual Technology headquarters, a small compound in the mountains above Los Angeles where work is done to archive L. Ron Hubbard’s writings so they can be placed in underground vaults to preserve them in the case of a nuclear holocaust. But we have also been told that in recent years she’s been working on “comps” — new materials for the launch of “Golden Age of Technology II,” a recent push by her husband, David Miscavige.
The CST headquarters is a lush mountain property cut off from the outside world, and those we’ve talked to who worked there say it is idyllic.
“It’s a cush job. She’s happy as a clam up there and probably has been for years,” Rathbun says. It’s the nature of the job — and her dedication to L. Ron Hubbard — that probably keeps her from trying to escape.
“If the job was polishing DM’s hubcaps, she would have blown a long time ago,” Rathbun says.
As the gala nears, we hope to have more details about it. Tipsters, please send us anything you happen to find out about it!
Karen de la Carriere on Good Morning America!
Yesterday, a crew from ABC was out to film Karen de la Carriere for a segment this morning on Good Morning America. Let us know if you catch it!
Posted by Tony Ortega on August 5, 2013 at 07:00
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