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How ‘The Kominsky Method’ nailed it: Writer Chuck Lorre’s secret Scientology past

[‘The Kominsky Method’: Michael Douglas, Chuck Lorre, and Alan Arkin]

One of the questions we heard from a lot of people after we posted a rundown Monday of the Scientology scenes in a remarkable episode of the Netflix series ‘The Kominsky Method’ was how the show had gotten the church’s lingo down so cold.

Had they run the script by Leah Remini or Mike Rinder? No one was listed in the credits as a consultant. Had the writers of the episode, Chuck Lorre and Al Higgins, simply done their homework really well?

Then, yesterday, we heard from Geoff Levin. We’ve talked about him here before — he’s the musician whose story of disconnecting from his brother and former bandmates, ditching Scientology, reconnecting with his brother and in 2017 getting the band back together, and then in 2018 losing his kids to disconnection will be the subject of a documentary that’s currently in the works.

Anyway, Geoff said he could solve the mystery of the Netflix episode for us.

“I knew Chuck Lorre in the mid 1970s when he was heavily into Scientology,” Geoff says.

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Lorre is one of Hollywood’s most successful writers and producers, from Roseanne‘s original run to Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, and The Big Bang Theory. But in the mid 1970s, Geoff tells us, Lorre arrived in California hoping to break into the music business, and was already deeply into Scientology.

Born Charles Michael Levine in 1952 in New York, Lorre changed his name at 26. “He came out from New York around late 1974 or early 1975. He was a typical New York guy. Really cocky and self confident. But he could sing and he could play guitar. So he was introduced into the Scientology music community at Celebrity Centre, and that’s when I first met him,” Geoff says.

 

[Geoff Levin and his children, Collin and Savannah, who disconnected after he left Scientology.]

Geoff’s band “People!” had a chart hit with 1968’s “I Love You” but that same year several members of the band, including Geoff and his brother Robbie, joined Scientology and its Sea Org, signing its billion-year contract. Geoff even spent some time on the ship Apollo with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who was running the organization from the Mediterranean and Atlantic. But by the summer of 1974, Geoff had returned to California.

“I had just gotten back from the Apollo. And I was now reestablishing myself in LA. I was living at the Hoover House, where a lot of Scientologists lived,” he says. At that time he met Chuck Lorre, but then didn’t see a lot of him until 1978.

“Around then, I was divorcing so I had to move out of my house, and I found a place in Studio City that had a recording studio. It was a really nice place for the time period. Beautiful view and everything,” Geoff says. Word soon got around to other Scientologists that he had the home studio. And one of the people who came around was Lorre.

“I asked him to come up to the studio and said let’s do something. At the time I wasn’t well known at all in the TV field, and he was an aspiring writer. But I had a concept for a TV series we called ‘Off the Record.’ It’s a shame we didn’t make it because it was way ahead of its time. It was a comedy about this stoner hippie and his buddy who had a studio, and each week a well known band or music artist would be a guest on the show to record a song. Chuck and I wrote the treatment, we wrote a song for it together. But after that time period, around 1979 or 1980, I lost touch with him.”

Not only did they not work together again, Geoff says that Lorre faded away from the Scientology celebrity scene.

“He was pretty hardcore in the 1970s. I don’t know what specific courses he was involved with, but I do know that he was trained as an auditor. And he was still involved in the early 80s. But I think he took off shortly after that,” Geoff says. (We’ve seen an Internet rumor that Lorre secretly took Scientology courses under the name “Chuck O’Steen,” but Geoff tells us he knew Chuck O’Steen well, and that it was definitely a different person.)

Geoff went on to a long and successful career scoring for television and film, and Lorre’s career skyrocketed after his stormy turn feuding with Roseanne Barr as a writer on her show. Then, in 1993, Geoff says, their paths crossed again.

Geoff’s then wife, Lisa London, was working as a casting director for a new show, Grace Under Fire, which was created by Lorre. So the two ran into each other again at the set.

“By that point Chuck was definitely not in Scientology anymore. He had just quietly left. He was into Buddhism by that time. And still is, as far as I know,” Geoff says.

Four years later, Lorre created the show Dharma & Greg, which starred Jenna Elfman, a Scientologist actor. She won a Golden Globe for the role in 1999. The series lasted until 2002.

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[Dharma days: Jenna Elfman and Chuck Lorre]

“Near the end of the show’s run, or just after it ended, Jenna invited Chuck to the Hollywood Celebrity Centre gala, and I saw him there,” Geoff says. Each August, the Celebrity Centre puts on a party and shows off its celebrities and whichever non-Scientologist celebs it can get to come to the event. “Yeah, I saw Chuck there. I think he had a few other guests with him.”

Geoff says that Lorre showing up at the gala tells him that when Chuck left Scientology in the 1980s, he did so as quietly as possible, and without causing problems for the church.

“As far as I know Chuck has never spoken out about Scientology. Never said a word,” Geoff says.

About the Netflix episode, Geoff says, “Chuck is a brilliant writer and he captured the indoctrination a member goes through. This is one of the best send-ups of Scientology I have seen.”

And now that Lorre’s name is on one of the more cutting portrayals of Scientology in television history?

“I think any friendships Chuck still had with Scientologists are now done,” he says.

Jenna, what say you?

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

Actual caption from Drug-Free Florida: “Don’t let drugs turn you in to zombies. Get the facts, the Truth About Drugs. make sure to stop by our center this Halloween evening for a special treat!”

 

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The Dublin Ideal Org keeps trying to rope in local families with fun fairs…

 

 
Trick or treaters, make sure you go to this guy’s house!

 

 
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Source Code

“You got a pc who isn’t ARC breaky and you now feel happy about the thing and you can go on auditing and find out what is wrong. This is to get him back into the realm of the living. So you see, that’s a valuable thing to know. If that fails you, well, you’ve always got suicide. You could propose that to the pc. That would solve his problems. ‘R2-45’ by its various . . various other techniques. So don’t think that you just have this one technique to fall back on. Now, that’s a valuable thing to know, that you can probably desensitize the situation . . that is to say, you can resensitize the meter by running the goal.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 31, 1961

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“Big Bangers say that a sort of moronic intelligence has somehow evolved to explain organic biology and the spirit of play (their latest theory is the God Comet). They have no explanation for why life forms bother to survive, and go through all that courtship, white wedding, reception, drunk speeches and a scuffle afterwards. Ron’s statement that ‘extroverting the attention (as in Scientology),’ may sound rather mundane, but we already know that some life forms are more extroverted than others, as in say a whale compared to a dolphin. It isn’t just a case of what jeans and chromosomes and complexity the life form is dressed in, what the fashion is. A whole wealth of interest arises from his statement, such as, what is being extroverted, why does it invariably feel better than introverted, and what is attention, anyway – a certain group of molecules facing the same way?”

 
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Random Howdy

“As Claire pointed out, the whole ‘What is true for you is what you have observed yourself’ is a circular logic conundrum. It should be ‘If something isn’t true for you it’s because you have a M/U.’ I recall reading a paper by Touretzky or Kent that explained how the ‘misunderstood word’ is what everything else in Scientology revolves around. It is the key.”

 
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Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Jenna Elfman, Giovanni Ribisi, and Greta Van Susteren]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] On sale today: Battlefield Scientology — the best of the Bunker, with Paulette Cooper!
[TWO years ago] Tonight on ‘Aftermath’: How Leah Remini’s friends in Scientology put her to the test
[THREE years ago] Leah Remini reveals that she’s been stalked during production of her new TV series
[FOUR years ago] Jon Atack: The ‘Axioms’ — L. Ron Hubbard’s attempt to make Scientology sound ‘sciencey’
[FIVE years ago] A reminder, this Halloween, that Scientology’s tricks tear families apart
[SIX years ago] Honesty in Scientology: Jefferson Hawkins Helps Us With Another Ethical Quandary
[SEVEN years ago] It’s Halloween, and Narconon is Very, Very Afraid
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Investigation of South Park the Last Straw for Katie Holmes: Aussie Magazine Report

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,614 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,743 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,247 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,767 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 787 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 678 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,985 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,853 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,627 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,401 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,747 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,313 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,232 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,400 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,981 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,242 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,281 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,993 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,519 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,045 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,608 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,748 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,068 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,924 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,043 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,398 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,701 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,807 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,209 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,081 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,664 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,159 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,413 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,522 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on October 31, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, 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 can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 14 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

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