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Louis Theroux’s ‘My Scientology Movie’ premieres at Tribeca: Our on-scene report

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Wow, it was great to see Louis Theroux again last night at the Tribeca Film Festival showing off his hilarious My Scientology Movie.

We were in London for the movie’s first screening in October, but we have to say it was even better on the second viewing. There are so many wonderful little things about this film, which was produced by Oscar winner Simon Chinn and directed by the talented John Dower.

At the party afterwards, Dower told us how happy he was that things kept happening in fortuitous ways while they were shooting. At one point early in the film, for example, Theroux is interviewing Marty Rathbun in an empty apartment rented for the occasion after the crew flew Rathbun out to Los Angeles for the first time, and completely unplanned, actress Paz de la Huerta — yes, of Boardwalk Empire fame, who had apparently been sunbathing nearby — walks into the frame in a bikini and says to the camera operator, “You can’t film me!”

None of which, of course, made any sense or told us anything about Scientology, but wow, what a nutty random moment in this film that keeps you off balance in a really fun way.

In October’s review we explained the premise, that Theroux had been denied access by the church. So, unable to interview David Miscavige, Dower and Theroux came up with a wild alternative — they cast an actor as Miscavige and had him read from actual Miscavige interviews and court testimony while getting direction from Marty Rathbun. (Andrew Perez plays Miscavige, and he nails it.)

Somehow, this crazy scheme works, and it not only explains something about Scientology under Miscavige, but also helped Theroux develop a fascinating relationship with Rathbun over the course of the movie. And while that Theroux-Rathbun interaction is the center of the film, there are terrific appearances also by Jefferson Hawkins, Marc Headley, Steve Mango, and Tom DeVocht.

Andrew Perez and Steve Mango caught up with Theroux at the afterparty last night…

 
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And while it was great finally to meet Steve, and to tell Perez again how good his performance was (and to meet his mom!), we couldn’t help thinking that the person who really should have been there (as well as in London) was the star of the hour.

Where was Marty Rathbun?

We wondered the same thing last year when we were doing publicity in New York for HBO’s film Going Clear. Mike Rinder had flown up from Florida, and Larry Wright was in town from Austin. But Marty Rathbun, as much as anyone, had worked to make the story of “The Hole” and David Miscavige’s alleged brutality the dominant media narrative about Scientology since he first spoke publicly in 2009.

Where was he for his victory lap?

After the London screening, John Dower told the audience that he’d just received an email from Rathbun, who said he’d loved the film. This time, in the Q&A after the movie, Dower and Theroux joked about Marty’s response when an audience member asked about it, but they hinted that Rathbun is less happy with the movie today.

 
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Rathbun does have some strange moments on screen, especially for the uninitiated viewer. But we thought, after seeing it a second time, that Theroux treats Rathbun fairly in a film that generally ends up endorsing Rathbun’s point of view.

Well, it’s a shame he missed out on the scene. We had an enjoyable talk with Theroux after the movie that was filled with all sorts of fun secrets.

Here’s your proprietor with Mango and director John Dower. We asked John about future distribution of the film, but he told us that was something he was still waiting to learn about.

We hope the rest of you get to see this movie soon.

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Get ready for the Scientology media explosion!

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This just in from Rod Keller: Online stirrings suggest that the Scientology Media Productions facility is going to have its grand opening this Saturday.

In 2011, Scientology purchased the landmark KCET studios in Los Angeles, which had been home to the former PBS television station. Since then, Scientology leader David Miscavige has been pressuring his followers to donate large sums to transform the 4.5-acre property into a sophisticated set of new studios that Scientology would use to broadcast its message to the world.

Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder and others pointed out to us that Scientology already has state-of-the-art studios at its “Gold Base” about 90 miles east of Los Angeles, near Hemet, California. But Miscavige has pushed the new project as necessary for the organization to reach a larger audience.

If the ceremony is happening Saturday, we’d expect a giant bow and ribbon to go up on the building at any moment. If you’re near the place, let us know!

 
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Russian woman charged with funneling stolen money to Scientology

This just in from Rod Keller. Has Russia been hit with its own Reed Slatkin?

 
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And now a word from our publisher, Silvertail Books

Hey, look what Humfrey Hunter tweeted this morning…

 
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And to celebrate, here’s Miss Lovely at the Phil and Willie Jones Billboard in Echo Park, thanks to a helpful reader.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on April 18, 2016 at 07:00

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 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

 

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