Our source in Scientology’s Hollywood Celebrity Centre, who has been so helpful to us in the past, alerted us to something special coming that he thought we’d want to pay attention to.
“The first screenings for Nancy Cartwright’s movie In Search of Fellini started this weekend,” he told us. “And for Scientology, it’s really a big deal.”
How so? We asked.
Our man in Hollywood told us the project grew out of a one-woman show Nancy, the voice of Bart Simpson, developed at the Celebrity Centre itself, more than 20 years ago.
By then, Nancy already had huge success with The Simpsons, a series which had started in 1989. She’s made piles of money out of the show, and according to Scientology’s own publications she’s given at least $10 million of it to the church. She’s also been more forthcoming than other celebrities about what the aims of Scientology are. To Australian journalist Bryan Seymour, she said, “I believe that there is a power that I am striving for. I think the best way to describe that would be to name that ‘God,’ you know. And ideally I would have to say that I am striving to be that God.”
Our source tells us that Nancy is not only fully invested in Scientology’s ideas about superpowers, but that she rides herd on others about it.
“She’s so hardcore, she even polices the other celebrities. She considers herself the ideal standard of a Scientology celebrity, and she lets the others know it if they aren’t measuring up to it,” he told us for our recent piece about Scientology’s top stars.
And now, our man tells us, she’s put together something really pretty special: Maybe the most Scientology-involved movie ever made, he says.
What, even more Scientological than John Travolta’s epically bad 2000 stinker, Battlefield Earth?
“Battlefield Earth had a lot fewer Scientologists involved than this one,” he says. “I can’t remember another film with this many Scientologists involved. And from their perspective this is awesome.”
Our man says the story for the film grew out of Nancy’s own travels around Europe before she became a star on The Simpsons. “It was a one-woman show. It was her personal experiences in Europe. And she had a pianist who did the music, and she took you on kind of a trip around Europe. It lasted probably an hour and a half. I remember that it was cute and it was funny,” he says.
Now, Nancy has written a movie that stars Maria Bello and younger actresses Ksenia Solo and Mary Lynn Rajskub. But the rest of the cast and crew is shot through with Scientologists. A few of them:
Actress and former Jason Lee fiancee Beth Riesgraf, actor David O’Donnell, actor Michael Wiseman (formerly a close friend to Leah Remini and Angelo Pagan), actress Alyssa Suede (daughter of former church member Roger Weller), producer Kevin Burke, producer Peter Kjenaas, producer Nathan Lorch, music director David Campbell, casting directors Lisa London and Catherine Stroud, and more.
A key producer on the project is Michael Doven, whom we’ve been writing about for quite a long time. Our source says Doven was key to getting distribution for the movie.
And directing the picture is Taron Lexton, husband to actress Marisol Nichols and son of South African Scientologist Mary Shuttleworth, who is responsible for founding several of Scientology’s front groups.
“He’s the boy wonder. He can do no wrong,” our source says. “He’s directed Way to Happiness videos and the United for Human Rights stuff that the church really loved.”
In all, it’s a project the church itself is very excited about.
“I can’t think of another film that was written, produced, and shot by Scientologists that actually got distribution. These are key roles in the film,” he says.
But is it any good? Our man admitted that he hadn’t seen it. So we looked around until we found something about its source material. Here’s what the Los Angeles Times said about Nancy’s show when it was playing in 1995…
Best known as the voice of Bart Simpson, Nancy Cartwright is a gamin performer with a distinctively raspy voice. Close your eyes. You’ll hear more than a trace of the bratty kid who has become an international icon.
Unfortunately, in Cartwright’s one-woman show “In Search of Fellini” at Theatre Geo, you just might want to close your eyes for other reasons as well.
Developed in collaboration with writer Peter Kjenaas and director Leslie Welles, “Fellini” concerns Cartwright’s journey to Italy. Her mission? To corner Fellini on his home turf and secure the stage rights to “La Strada.”
What sounds like an interesting premise bogs down into a half-baked non-play, in which Cartwright engages in a couple of ill-fated romances, buys a glass sculpture, gets loaded on rum-laced pastries and raves about Leonardo da Vinci’s genius. Despite all attempts to elevate it to the significant, Cartwright’s show is reminiscent of an album of awkwardly composed vacation pictures, sweet mementos to the participant but dull to the uninitiated.
Well, come on now, that’s just harsh.
We’ll give Nancy’s film a chance, if we can just figure out how to see it.
Our Celebrity Centre friend was also feeling charitable. “She got something done. So good for her,” he says. And how. Bring it on!
HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.
Scientology disconnection, a reminder
Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,677 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,780 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,274 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,314 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,026 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 493 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,611 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,781 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,101 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,076 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 432 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,734 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 841 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,243 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,116 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 697 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,202 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,446 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,555 days.
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. 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.
The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
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