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DONE DEAL: Billboard contract signed for site near Scientology’s Los Angeles ‘Big Blue’ HQ

 
Phil and Willie Jones have done it again. In part through the generosity of the readers of this website, they’ve raised enough toward their overall goal that they have signed a contract for a new “Call Me” billboard, and they wanted us to announce it.

They also wanted us to reveal where the new billboard is going to be — right on Sunset Boulevard, and only blocks from Scientology’s “Big Blue” headquarters on Fountain Avenue.

We reminded Phil that in the past, when he first announced the location for his original Los Angeles billboard, two companies then caved under pressure from the Church of Scientology and tore up his contracts before he found a third company that was willing to stand by him.

But he tells us he’s confident that Scientology will not be able to scuttle this deal. We’ll just have to see about that!

The billboard location is on Sunset just after it passes through Fountain Avenue. It’s on the left side of the street facing west, for drivers heading toward downtown LA.

 

 
In the map, we’ve marked the billboard location with a black star. Two red stars mark Scientology’s two big facilities nearby — “Big Blue,” the former hospital complex Scientology has owned since 1977 and is known by the workers there as “PAC Base” for “Pacific Area Command.” It’s an administrative headquarters complex that also includes an “Ideal Org,” and an “Advanced Org,” where wealthy Scientologists come to take expensive upper-level courses. Just down the road, on Sunset, is the new “Scientology Media Productions” (SMP), the 5-acre set of studios that Scientology purchased from television station KCET in 2011.

Wow, this location is really something. We asked Phil for his thoughts…

The billboard contract is signed and we’ve got the location secured. I know that some are nervous about us revealing the location but this is with the same company as before and they’ve stood by us in the face of Scientology pressure previously. I spoke to them recently about it and told them there may be more Scientology push-back but they assured me it would not be a problem. We’ve locked in the most amazing location, right near the Scientology PAC Base (Big Blue) and the Scientology Media Productions studio in Los Angeles. And if you realize these two Scientology properties are only blocks apart then you’ll see we are right down in the belly of the beast.

We also have a firm date for the launch but I’ll release that later. If we get enough money in I can possibly get additional time before and after which would change our launch date anyway. Once we get closer I’ll let you know.

There is a huge interest in the subject of Scientology these days, largely due to Leah Remini’s show, and the press is eating it up. With this momentum building we thought this would be a perfect time to relaunch the billboard. Also, with the groundwork being done with the explanations in the show and demonstrations of disconnection I think there will be a better understanding by the public on what the billboard means.

In addition, this is an area where a lot of Sea Org work and live. The likelihood of Sea Org staff seeing this billboard is much higher than the earlier ones. In those earlier ones we were going largely for informing the public and for some press coverage. This one we hope to hit staff and public with our message.

We couldn’t have done this without your great coverage of our story and the kind support of your readers. There are no words sufficient to express my gratitude to all.

 

 
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LAPD Image of the Day

Hmm.

 

 
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Indies go hat in hand to Miscavige

Well, so much for that. When they first announced their project, the people behind the “Religious Liberty League” and the “First Independent Church of Scientology” (FICOS) described an aggressive plan of action. Merrell Vannier, a disbarred former attorney and former Scientology spy, is the primary person behind the effort, and he announced a pretty intriguing goal: Trying to get the US government to “genericize” the word “scientology.”

Over the years since Scientology’s beginning, there have been many breakaway, independent groups who have wanted to use L. Ron Hubbard’s “technology” outside of the official movement itself. But doing so, and charging money for auditing outside the church, can open up an “indie” to harassment and litigation. The Church of Scientology has pretty vigorously represented in court and to law enforcement agencies that it has iron-clad trademarks and copyrights over the works of Hubbard and the word “Scientology.”

But Vannier’s group tried to challenge that, arguing that so much time has passed since Scientology was first organized in 1952 that use of the term has become generic. Such a ruling by the US government would be huge. It would enable anyone anywhere to open up their own “scientology” enterprises, and to refer to Hubbard’s works without fear of litigation.

However, the United States Patent and Trademark Office didn’t see it that way, and has so far rejected the application by FICOS to genericize the word. (In the meantime, FICOS applied for, and received, status as a tax-exempt organization, which we pointed out previously was neither controversial or difficult to attain, especially for something where little or no money was involved.)

Now, Vannier has announced an entirely new “path to victory” at the Religious Liberty League website, saying that instead of trying to get the word “scientology” ruled generic — which would have benefited all independents — instead the First Independent Church of Scientology has sent letters to two of Scientology’s controlling entities, the Religious Technology Center and the Church of Spiritual Technology, both copied to Scientology’s top attorney Monique Yingling, inquiring about paying for a license from the church to use Hubbard’s works freely.

If, as seems likely, the letters are ignored, then Vannier says copyright law would allow FICOS to operate, having made a genuine attempt to get a license. But again, that would apply only to FICOS, and would leave the issue of Scientology’s copyrights unchanged.

“It sure looks like they caved from what they were originally asking for. It’s certainly a long way from their demand that David Miscavige resign,” says our attorney, Scott Pilutik, who has been following the Religious Liberty League’s effort closely. “On the one hand, the request for a license is an example of FICOS going through the ‘good-faith-effort’ steps for the purpose of future potential litigation, which they hint at. But I think they’re a bit unrealistic if they’re only imagining two outcomes to their request — either the church acceding or telling them to ‘pound sand.’ A third, unmentioned outcome seems most likely to me — the church pounding them to sand with a costly infringement suit. Trademarks in particular are maintained on a use ’em or lose ’em basis, and the church would risk losing the ‘Scientology’ trademark if they didn’t file an infringement suit.

“Could FICOS win? Sure, I’ve said for years that there’s a legitimate First Amendment claim to be made against the Church of Scientology by an independent group willing to make it. But do they have six-figure deep resources to get there? Not many entities can handle that, and they’re asking for donations so I’ve got my doubts. What I found encouraging about their trademark filing (whose denial remains ‘suspended’) was that it was an opportunity to beat the Church of Scientology in a forum where legal fees can be contained. If the church files an infringement suit they’ll be able to dictate the scope of the litigation, and as we’ve seen countless times, things usually get ugly. But I continue to root for the First Independent Church of Scientology.”

Vannier hasn’t replied to an email we sent asking for a statement. If he gets back to us, we’ll update the story. Upate: Vannier referred us to the Religious Liberty League website for further information.

 
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Breaking celebrity news!

Alfreddie Johnson behind Louis Farrakhan and singer Stacy Francis at a Scientology Hollywood Celebrity Centre event, circa 2006

This just in: Stacy Francis is in a British game show, and there’s not a single plausible reason why anyone should care.

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

Queens dentist Bernard Fialkoff has roped in another sucker for his Scientology front, Foundation for a Drug-Free World. In this case, it’s Joan Jett and the Blackhearts guitarist, Ricky Byrd. And while Bernie and his daughter, the glamorous Meghan Fialkoff, continue to infiltrate New York City’s schools with their L. Ron Hubbard anti-drugs pseudoscience, U.S. publications continue to act amazed that something similar is happening over in England.

 

 
About those boxes of Hubbard books in your garage…

 

 
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HowdyCon2017

Go here to start making your plans.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 13, 2017 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, 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

 

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