The Church of Scientology’s new Los Angeles television studios on Sunset Boulevard suddenly became a hive of activity yesterday as preparations got underway for Saturday’s big grand opening. Scientology purchased the old KCET studios in 2011, and has been fundraising ever since to open what it’s calling “Scientology Media Productions,” a complex of TV and radio studios that the church says will help it get its message out.
But one move by the church took locals by surprise. Cranes lifted a sign to the top of the facility’s 15-story antenna yesterday evening, and on local websites residents were buzzing about whether this was the neon sign the church had been told it couldn’t put on the tower.
One of our readers lives in the neighborhood, and he tells us he’s pretty shocked to see the sign go up. Two of the people on his block are on the neighborhood council. “They said that the [church’s] application was rescinded based on advice from the council, but we’re gonna have to find out what really happened,” he says.
Last summer, Scientology was trying to get permission to put up a neon sign that would contain two interlocking triangles and the letter S, Scientology’s logo…
Is that what Scientology lifted into place last night? The last we heard, Scientology had postponed its attempt to convince the local government to let it put up a bright neon sign. Looking at the photograph, however, we aren’t sure that what was lifted into place yesterday is an electric sign at all. Maybe our readers can get a look at it this morning and let us know.
Meanwhile, the site has suddenly turned into a busy place. Says our reader, who snapped the photo of the sign being lifted on cranes: “They’re putting up lighting trusses, stages, audio gear, big red ribbons on the buildings, and appears they’re going to finally uncover all of the signage as well.”
According to the instructions that were sent out to church members, security at the event will be tight. But we’ve heard from numerous readers who tell us they plan on attending and will get us some reports from the scene.
Scentologists have been under considerable pressure to donate money to the Scientology Media Productions project, and they’ve been told that it’s a crucial step in helping the church get its message out to the world. Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder and other former church executives have pointed out to us that Scientology already has state-of-the-art production studios at its base near Hemet, which is about 90 miles away. If the studios are redundant, why is so much work and money being pumped into them?
Fundraising appeals from the church have implied that the studios will enable Scientology to broadcast its message over its own television station. Is that what Scientology leader David Miscavige is planning, Scientology TV? So far, we haven’t seen evidence that the church has obtained a license to broadcast over the air. We may learn more about that on Saturday, when Miscavige presides over the grand opening.
We’re also very curious to see who Miscavige has convinced to share the stage with him. When he opens a new “Ideal Org” somewhere, the ceremony usually features a few local political figures. But in this case, will it be entertainment figures? We’re anxious to find out.
UPDATE: Here’s a more close-up photo of the sign that was put up last night. What do you think, crew, does this thing light up?
And here’s a look at where the ceremony will be happening on Saturday…
2nd UPDATE: And now the crane is out again. What are they doing up there?
A closer look. Is he wiring this thing up?
Bonus items from our tipsters
In Tampa, someone wrote a very big check. Actual caption: “VERY WELL DONE to Craig Guignon for securing his full training package and new E-meter with Tampa, and he also secured his Super Power and Cause Resurgence with the help of our awesome Tampa registrars!”
In London, the local Nation of Islam group celebrates its kids learning to clay model…
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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