Last week our man at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre let us know that Nancy Cartwright’s movie, In Search of Fellini, had screened, and he wanted us to understand that it was a movie with more Scientologists involved than maybe any other ever. From Nancy, who wrote it, to its director, to many of its actors, and plenty of other people on the crew, this is a film that Scientology is hoping will do well.
Well, since then, we learned from Roger Friedman that there was a bit of a surprise about that first screening, which happened on the closing night of the 12th annual Los Angeles Italia film festival on February 24…
“Fellini” stars Maria Bello…When the festival wanted to honor her at the movie’s premiere on February 24th who did they call? Why Paul Haggis, famous former Scientologist, Oscar winner, and great friend of Bello.
Oh my. So let’s do the math. You have a 20-year project by Nancy Cartwright, who first developed “Fellini” as a one-woman show at the Hollywood Celebrity Center and has finally managed to turn this labor of love into a film, and with the use of many of her fellow Scientologists. Here’s the whole gang on the red carpet that night, playfully hoisting Nancy sideways…
One of the film’s crew is producer Michael Doven, who we outed as a Scientology spy some five years ago. But the film stars a non-Scientologist actress, Maria Bello, and the film was shown at the LA-Italia festival, which isn’t controlled by Scientology.
So Paul Haggis, good friend to Bello, is invited by the festival organizers to the screening to give Bello an award. Here are the two of them, captured that night by photographers…
And Haggis is not just the winner of multiple Oscars; he was the subject of “The Apostate,” a huge 2011 profile in the New Yorker by Lawrence Wright which Larry later turned into his epic 2013 history of the church which also featured Haggis, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, which in turn Alex Gibney turned into his 2015 HBO documentary, Going Clear, also starring Paul Haggis.
In other words, Haggis is kryptonite to Scientologists, particularly such hard core enforcers like Nancy Cartwright and Michael Doven. And Haggis was invited to show up at the big screening of their movie? Oh, was there enough popcorn in the place for this showdown?
So what happened? We asked Haggis how this awkward scene went down, and he sent us the following account…
I didn’t actually notice anyone other than the Dovens that evening. I was sitting at a table with my friend David Belle, who runs Artists for Peace and Justice, during the cocktail hour prior to the event, when I noticed Michael and Andrea walking toward me, then abruptly diverting into the crowd. I don’t think they’d been told that I would be there that night, as the day prior Mr. Doven had nixed me from presenting to Maria, telling the event organizer that I was “too controversial.” However David told me that a large huddle of red-faced people kept staring at me during cocktails and talking angrily to each other.
Well, sure, we can imagine that Paul making the scene must have produced quite a few red faces. And we’ll interrupt him just long enough to point out that not only was Michael Doven the spy Scientology used to keep tabs on Tom Cruise, but that his wife Andrea Doven is also an interesting figure herself. She’s the daughter of actor Robert Morse, and back in 2013 we managed to catch her giving a speech at the Celebrity Centre that was deliciously full of Scientology nuttiness.
Wow, so Michael Doven found out Haggis had been invited, and he put the kibosh on Paul giving Maria her award. The nerve! OK, but that wasn’t all that happened. Back to Paul’s account…
David and I were there to receive a humanitarian award for our work in Haiti. When he heard that I wouldn’t be presenting to Maria, and why, he was very upset and wanted to cancel our appearance, but it was such a petty move on Doven’s part that I easily convinced David to just laugh it off. The organizer of the event is a great and wonderful friend, and kindly scheduled our presentation before Maria’s. David and I accepted our award, gave a shout-out to Maria for her work with us in Haiti, and left, as we had another engagement that night. I only later mentioned it to my friend Roger Friedman in passing, not actually thinking it was interesting enough to write about. Looking back, it must have been uncomfortable for my former acquaintances to have to sit through the video about our organization’s accomplishments in Haiti, and then have to sit through our acceptance speech. Scientology so often boasts about its great humanitarian work, and its members are truly convinced they are saving the world. In fact they did send volunteers and supplies to Port au Prince after the earthquake in 2010, on Travolta’s jet, but left very soon afterwards. I seriously doubt that the church itself gave any of the money for earthquake relief; it is my experience they ask their members to donate it all — this despite the fact the church reportedly has $2 billion in cash reserves. APJ, our organization, has been doing massive relief work in Haiti since 2008. We not only trucked in tons of supplies, we supported a beautiful pediatric hospital and built major schools for thousands of the poorest children. In partnership with our incredible Haitian colleagues, we have put over $20 million to work on the ground. In fact, the night before this event, David and I had just done a fundraiser in LA and raised another $800,000. It was an incredible evening of song created by our board member Jackson Browne, and featured friends like Jeff Bridges, Rita Wilson, Moby and Jack Black — check it out. Our next major fundraiser is our annual Toronto Film Festival gala. Spread the word, we need all the help we can get. People can check us out at APJnow.org.
We sure will, Paul. There’s a page here where you can see a lot of photos from the fundraiser with Jackson Browne, Jeff Bridges, Rita Wilson, Jack Black, Nazanin Boniadi, and Paul. Looks like it was a great party.
Will Clearwater ever grow a spine?
Hey, it was just a few weeks ago that our man Rod Keller was discussing recent developments in downtown Clearwater, Florida, and reminded us that back in the year 2000, a Church of Scientology publication revealed David Miscavige’s long term goal — that Clearwater would come to be known as the first “Scientology city.”
Well, now Tampa Bay Times reporter Tracey McManus has an excellent new piece about how, to the city’s horror, Miscavige really means to make that idea become a reality.
“The Church of Scientology is maneuvering to control all downtown real estate to create a master retail district that will operate under its management and oversight,” she writes. And now it makes more sense why Miscavige has asked to meet individually with Clearwater city council members today and tomorrow to, apparently, try and dissuade them from purchasing a 1.4-acre parcel next to Scientology’s Fort Harrison Hotel that is supposedly a done deal.
Hey, Clearwater dumbasses, are you never going to learn? As a service to the spineless city government, we’re going to, once again, reprint this 1979 editorial from the defunct Clearwater Sun in the hopes that it might inspire some backbone…
Now It’s Time for Action
Clearwater Sun, Nov 27, 1979
There comes a time in the history of a community when the talking has to stop and direct action has to start.
It seems to the Sun such a time has arrived for Clearwater, in its relation to the Church of Scientology.
The cult has been here four years. For a time, the possibility might have existed that a form of detente could be worked out between the Scientologists and the people of Clearwater. But the recent release of thousands of Scientology documents in Washington, D.C. has put such a possibility forever behind us.
These documents have indelibly stamped Scientology as an agency of vengeance and wrongdoing, of malice and mischief.
For years the Sun’s editorial position has been that the cult of Scientology is bad for Clearwater and should leave this city.
Now it is time to act. Here is what we are doing:
— As of today, the Clearwater Sun is ceasing all business contact with the Scientology organization. We have removed our vending machines from all cult-owned property, and we henceforth will refuse any advertising from the Scientologists.
— We are urging all Clearwater-area businesses to cut off trade with the Scientology organization. We do NOT advocate that businesses refuse to deal with individual members of the cult nor fail to honor contractual obligations, but we do encourage vendors and tradesmen to stop supplying goods and services to the cult’s buildings and property.
— Beginning today the Sun will not publish the name and address of any person who writes to us with criticism or adverse comments on Scientology. Letters still must be signed, but we will not reveal the writers’ identities, to protect them from harassment by the Scientologists.
Some of these measures are distasteful to us, but the cult on Fort Harrison has shown it is more than deserving of distasteful actions. We particularly are concerned that we must allow our letter writers to resort to secrecy, but the documents in Washington show that Scientologists don’t want our readers to have their say. They have compiled intelligence files on those who criticized the organization, even branding them as enemies to be investigated.
Normally the Sun requires proper identification to appear with any letter we print on our editorial pages. However, we are persuaded that continuation of this policy will prevent the full use of our pages as a forum on Scientology because some would-be writers will fear retaliation by the cult.
These above steps are for openers. There will be others. It is our passionate belief that Clearwater must rid itself of the offices of Scientology. Action must be taken, not merely by the Sun, and not on a short-term basis. But a start has to be made by someone.
The Sun is doing this because of our conviction that the following things are true:
1. Scientology is not a religion, as it claims to be, but rather a for-profit group that uses religion as a guise to escape taxes and separate credulous men and women of large sums of money in exchange for superficial training in mental and emotional disciplines.
2. Scientologists of both high and low rank have in behalf of the cult, engaged in lying, theft, burglary, breaking and entering, conspiracy, and illegal harassment of private citizens.
3. The presence of Scientology in Clearwater constitutes a clear and present danger to the continued prosperity of the community and its citizens.
4. Despite the revelations found in the Washington documents and the recent adjudications of guilt of conspiracy by Scientology leaders, not one local Scientologist has publicly repudiated the wrongdoing evidenced in the cult’s documents or the admissions of those leaders.
5. Individual Scientologists have repeatedly and over several years lied about their activities.
6. The weight of what has happened in the past four years is evidence too strong to ignore, that Scientologists will resort to whatever means are required for them to survive and prosper. The Sun does not and cannot believe that Scientology will change. Therefore, it is a blight upon Clearwater.
Our actions in connection with Scientology are not taken lightly.
We are especially concerned that our opposition to the cult not be taken as malice toward individual members. These men and women deserve pity, not hostility. And we exhort the citizens of Clearwater to behave legally and with moderation toward each cult member.
But the organization itself is large, rich and well able to defend its position. For that reason we cannot undertake these actions with a faint heart or while sounding an uncertain trumpet.
And we do not.
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 4,683 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,786 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,280 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,320 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,032 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 499 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,617 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,787 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,107 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,082 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 438 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,740 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 847 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,249 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,122 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 703 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,208 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,452 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,561 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