Phil and Willie Jones and their billboard have really hit the big time. Expect to see them on both the Today Show on NBC and Good Morning America on ABC this morning.
Yesterday, we sat back and let our commenters report on the action happening in Los Angeles as the billboard, which we reported had gone up on Monday morning, attracted a gaggle of television teams to film the dedication ceremony. We asked Phil at the end of the day if he would send us some thoughts about how it had gone. He sent us the following, and we’re also grateful to several Bunker readers who supplied us with photos.
Wednesday was ‘Billboard Dedication Day.’ It turned out to be a lot more than we possibly could have imagined. Since the billboard went up on Monday we figured it would be a bit low key on Wednesday, with maybe 5 or 10 people, and if we were lucky a news crew or two.
When I woke up in the morning the phone was ringing, emails flying, and texts a-texting. We got down to the billboard site an hour early to get situated and the phone kept on going. When there was a short lull we jumped out of the car (OK, no jumping for me. Creaky old man climbed out of the car) and walked over to a spot with a good view of the billboard.
We started off with an on-camera interview with ABC’s 20/20. They asked some great questions and were very nice. As soon as that one was over a gentleman asked if we’d move across the street to the (wide) median. I was amazed to see a whole bunch of news people there with cameras and mics waiting for us. Rather than do individual interviews they set it up as a media scrum. I have no idea how many there were. Looked like somewhere between 5 and 10 cameras.
Surrounded by cameras, microphones and news people we stood there answering questions for quite a while. There were some excellent questions and more than a few very surprised expressions as they were amazed that this stuff goes on in America. Questions were fired from every direction and Willie handle them all with aplomb. I even managed to fumble through answering a few as well. It was exhausting and stressful but we were happy to be at that point. The billboard was up and the message was getting out. And it’s about to get out big time.
After the scrum settled there was one crew who had arrived a bit late so we went through the questions again. Glad to oblige.
Included in this scrum and asking a lot of great questions was Inside Edition. Wow.
Then we went a bit off-site to interview with the Today Show. This was a bit more extensive and they covered a lot of great stuff. Again, we were so impressed with the caring and professional attitude of these news people. I wondered who L. Ron Hubbard was talking about when he denigrated news people. Haven’t met those guys yet.
Once wrapped with the Today Show we drove over the studio for Good Morning America. Here we were able to sit down for the interview. That was a relief to my now aching bones. Again, I was taken by how kind and caring they all were from the interviewer to the sound man and everyone else. And again, surprise and raised eyebrows at some of the stuff they heard going on in Scientology.
After that we were done with interviews for the day. We headed back to the hotel where I had to send out photos and info for the various shows to use as background material.
I know there were friends, supporters, exes, and others who came out to be with us today. We really, really apologize to those who we weren’t able to meet and chat with. The day kind of got away on us a bit with interviews. We wanted to meet each and every one of you. Please know that we appreciate your support and thank you from the bottom of our hearts that you added your presence to the mix.
A few phone calls later and we were done for the day. Tired but very happy that we had such a successful day.
There are a lot of people who gave their support for this project. With their help we’ve fired a shot across the bows of Scientology, and the message is, “We Want Our Families Back.”
— Phil Jones
More dumb Tom Cruise ‘news’
With Chris White’s recent story on Nora Crest, the Daily Mail had once again shown that it could do solid work on Scientology.
And then, yesterday, it proved that it could also wallow in mediocrity.
The publication combined some very nice aerial shots of Scientology’s UK headquarters — Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, England — with a story that said the place had gotten an expensive facelift (which we knew already) and the wild claim from an unnamed source that Tom Cruise would be “moving in” to the place and was largely financing things there.
Our readers know that we’ve been telling the public for the last couple of years that Cruise is just as dedicated to Scientology as ever, and we’ve pointed out that attempts by the Sun and others to spread the notion that he’s on his way out is just wishful thinking. But moving in to Saint Hill?
We asked former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder for his reaction to the Daily Mail story…
“It’s total idiocy. Their ‘source’ clearly knows nothing. It’s not even worth wasting time pointing out the illogics,” he said.
Well, there you have it. Hey, Daily Mail, you were on a roll. Why muck up things now?
Chris Shelton sec-checks his mom, part two
Says Chris: “In this second part, we talk about some of the big differences between Scientology back in the 1970s compared to now and how it has become much harsher and more authoritarian.”
Narconon lawsuit settles as trial loomed
Our thanks to the reader who pointed out that a trial was scheduled this morning in New York in the lawsuit filed by Heidi and Nathaniel Gore against a Narconon facility in Florida.
We had planned to go, but we checked with the clerk before heading to the courthouse. “It’s settled,” the clerk told us.
Yeah, that figures. As one attorney told us, Scientology can never really let any case get to trial because the facts are always so stomach-turning, and juries will find it hard to believe what’s going on at Scientology facilities.
The Gores were appalled when they realized, after sending a loved one to the Narconon facility, that it turned out to be a Scientology outfit. When they asked for a refund on the $40,000 they had paid up front, they were denied. Scientology tried to get the case thrown out because they said a New York court shouldn’t be hearing a Florida matter, but Judge Carol Edmead ruled that because the Gores had made the payment while they were in New York, it could be heard in New York.
And now it won’t, because Scientology cut a big check. Congratulations to the Gores.
Links of note
We got a chuckle out of John Riceburg’s encounter with Foundation for a Drug Free World in Berlin. And although Buzzfeed broke the story on Tuesday, we really enjoyed the opening to this DailyKos piece about Florida congressman David Jolly scrubbing Wikipedia:
Rule no. 1 for political candidates: Never try to edit your own Wikipedia page. Rule no. 2: Definitely don’t try to scrub out references to your links with Scientology. And rule no. 3: For godsakes, don’t associate with those lunatic Scientology slave-lords in the first place! Republican Rep. David Jolly has, however, broken all three of these rules. Jolly’s ties to the “Church” of Scientology are long-established and well-known. The group has a prominent headquarters in the town of Clearwater, which is located in Jolly’s district, and Jolly has often participated in Scientology events: Just last year, he was feted as a “guest of honor” at a Scientology festival.
We had a feeling those parties in his honor thrown by Scientology whales were going to come back to haunt Jolly. The congressman is an early leader in the Republican primary for the US Senate race, but polling is notoriously unreliable at this stage.
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield