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Now with no restrictions: Our podcast series on the Scientology docuseries that never aired

In June, we started our experiment with Substack and asked readers to sign up for free emails so our stories would come right to your inboxes. Less than three months later, we now have more than triple the subscriber base we did previously, and you’ve all helped us reach a much larger audience.

But we also wanted to find a way to thank those generous readers who signed up for paid subscriptions, and so we started The Underground Bunker Podcast, and then, last month, a special limited podcast series.

That limited series of five episodes looked at something we’ve been curious about for several years: The potentially explosive television series, produced by Sirens Media, that would have featured L. Ron Hubbard great-grandson Jamie DeWolf as its presenter, and that would have taken an active look at the families ripped apart by Scientology’s “disconnection” policy. Unfortunately, even though the series was ready to air on the A&E network in 2016, it never has.

Our podcast series turned out even better than we were hoping, and today, we’re making all five episodes available to everyone. Here’s what you’ll hear.



Episode 1: Phil Jones. “The whole thing was about a two-year segment in our lives. The thing is, all of it just revolved around us wanting to reconnect with our kids, who were trapped in the cult of Scientology. Everything we did was mainly for that reason. Some, admittedly was to bring as much awareness as we could about Scientology’s practice of disconnection but the focus was always our kids. Hearing the others on Tony’s podcast talk about their experiences, I realized that maybe the added confidence given by having a team of professional camera crews along allowed us all to step a bit further out of our comfort zones in trying to connect with our loved ones. There is safety in numbers, and with cameras, in dealing with Scientology. Mainly though, the podcast about the A&E/Sirens show showed a pretty clear picture of just how cruel Scientology is with its disconnection practice. At this point, I doubt it will ever see daylight. My mind on this has dimmed from hope to wish, but at least I think all of us who participated during that time made at least some impact in bringing the abuses to light.”


Episode 2: Derek Bloch. We first presented Derek’s heartbreaking story — that he joined the Sea Org at 15, but then was kicked out a year later and rejected by his family because he had discovered that he was gay — more than a decade ago at the Village Voice. What would happen when Sirens filmed Derek’s attempt to speak again with his mother? His description of that day, and his stories about what it was like to work with Jamie DeWolf, really affected us. Derek deserved better from his family, and it’s a shame his story wasn’t shown by A&E. “At the time, when all this was happening I was really frustrated. Eventually that gave way to disappointment. Nowadays there are just so many other stress-inducing disasters happening simultaneously that my experience with Scientology seems insignificant. Despite its ultimate failure, I think my experience on this documentary series helped me to close the chapter on that part of my life and move on to bigger and better things.”


Episode 3: Carol Nyburg. Carol’s episode really took us by surprise when she told us the stunning thing that’s happened since her filming, a reunion with her daughter. “My takeaway from listening to all five episodes is that it showed how diverse all the stories are. Everyone is completely different, but all suffered as a result of Scientology’s disconnection policy. Even Jamie’s family suffered horribly and was split and divided; not specifically from disconnection, but from general Scientology craziness. One last comment I must make is about the difference between L Ron Hubbard and Jamie, his great-grandson. Both are brilliant and huge personalities. It’s plain to see how one can use their gifts for good or evil and the results of both.”


Episode 4: Katrina Reyes. We struggled to fit Katrina’s entire story in a single episode. Her saga is simply incredible, as a third-generation Scientologist from Siberia who was brought to the Flag Land Base in Florida and a life of drudgery in the Sea Org. After getting away, her mother remained at the base and cut Katrina out of her life. But with the Sirens cameras filming, Katrina became determined to see her mother at the Sandcastle. Her showdown with Scientology security and local police would have made stunning television.



Episode 5: Jamie DeWolf: After he spoke publicly for the first time about this television series for our podcast, we asked Jamie for his thoughts. Here’s what he sent us.

First off, I’m beyond grateful to Tony Ortega for his indomitable work in finally revealing all of the risks and sacrifices we needed to take to bring this show to life.

Even before we started filming Disconnected, we knew it was going to be one of the most dangerous television shows ever made. There was no real safety net, this wasn’t ‘reality TV,’ this was gritty real, scary real. This was taking on one of the most insidious cults of the century in the open and on the streets. There had never been anything like it.

What I’ve seen with my own eyes is almost unbelievable. Car chases with private detectives, set ups, stakeouts, hidden cameras stashed in bushes, vans circling us stalking our every move, cover ups, Sci ‘black ops’ exposed in the daylight. Filmed all in real time, captured in multiple angles. The whole time I could only keep myself sane by thinking, the camera is our evidence.

The camera was the only thing keeping us safe.

Disconnected was visceral, terrifying, and important. TV has still never seen anything like it.

And you probably never will.

But now you can finally piece together how explosive this series truly was.

How explosive it IS, even now, locked away.

During filming, I never said a word in public. But it ate me alive. And then time went on, with no answers. The worst part was having to move on with the quiet anger, knowing that we put ourselves in the line of fire, and the world never got to see why.

To the families, I’m sorry. I fought so hard on everyone’s behalf. I really did.

What I’ve been through is nothing compared to all those who’ve had mothers, daughters, and sons stolen by the cult. All the family trees severed at the roots. Scientology is the darkest hole on earth, and anyone who thinks that people talk about it just to get on TV has never dealt with it face to face.

I once thought the bad guys can’t win forever.

This is how they try.


One exhaustion at a time: another delay in court, another threat no one hears, another story silenced before it ever gets to print or hits the air. Another show they won’t let you see. All those who paid a steep price to tell their truth are then left to the lions, while others walk red carpets.

But this story is also full of heroes, of individuals without riches or celebrity or law firms, of brave people who stepped forward in the face of the fire and still chose to tell the truth against all odds. Many of them have been doing so before I was even born.

There’s plenty more to this story, and a lot that’s still unsaid. As the host of the show, I was there all the way from the start to finish. I have so much more to tell, and someday soon I hope to get the opportunity to do so. But this podcast is the first to break it open. It’s a damn good start.

We filmed the show because we wanted you to see what we saw. To judge for yourself. To show in full color the simple truth of what journalists and survivors have been saying for over half a century: Scientology is a predatory force that destroys families.

I should know. It destroyed mine, even though we created it.

It took a lot of guts for everyone to speak up on this podcast.

So listen to some of my heroes.

See what real bravery looks like.

— Jamie DeWolf


Today’s Scientology happy news. Yes, an excerpt from an actual press release put out by the church this week.

Out of the smoke and dust that engulfed lower Manhattan 21 years ago rose a humanitarian movement known for its ardent commitment to help: the Scientology Volunteer Ministers—a religious social service of the Church of Scientology.

The 9/11 terror attacks marked a turning point for Scientologists.


More than 800 Scientology Volunteer Ministers served in the aftermath of the attack. They traveled from across the country and abroad, providing support to emergency personnel and bringing order to the chaos. And they continued doing so throughout the entire eight months of the rescue and recovery effort.

“At any time, well over 100 Volunteer Ministers from the Church of Scientology mill around the remains of the World Trade Center,” wrote The New York Times on September 20, 2001. “On the day of the attack, they took in food to workers….When rescue workers stagger from the wreckage, the ministers, identified by their T-shirts, try to focus the workers’ minds and revive their bodies.”

“ The Volunteer Ministers worked with great energy and great compassion at Ground Zero, helping to ease the physical burdens and mental strains of the rescue workers,” wrote a New York Police Chief in thanks. “The organization, the caring, and the dedication of your Volunteer Ministers were exceptional, very much appreciated, and will long be remembered by those who received their help.”


Now available: Bonus for our supporters

Episode 12 of the Underground Bunker podcast has been sent out to paid subscribers: You may have read our book about Scientology’s insane attempts to try and destroy journalist Paulette Cooper, but we had a delightful conversation with her about her own memoir. Meanwhile, we’ve made episodes 1 through 11 available to everyone, with such guests as Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan, Jefferson Hawkins, Patty Moher, Geoff Levin, Pete Griffiths, Sunny Pereira, Bruce Hines, Jeffrey Augustine, and Claire Headley. Go here to get the episodes!


Source Code

“All right now, let’s look at an engram. An engram isn’t very serious if somebody walks up and steps on your toes and says, ‘You skunk.’ That’s not very serious because there’s not very much chaos there into which to put a stable datum. But if this individual walked up to you from behind, slugged you over the head, kicked you in the ribs, wound you up in the hospital, but somewhere in the midst of all of this he said, ‘You’re a skunk,’ you’d probably start to smell like one.” — L. Ron Hubbard, September 14, 1955


Avast, Ye Mateys


“There’s a need for the FEBC like the Sahara needs water. Public demand is high. The contemporary staffs don’t really know how to give service or handle. Well, we’ll make it anyway. A lot of good guys out there. At least we know exactly where we’re going and exactly what to do to get there. Maybe we’re the only ones on Earth who do.” — The Commodore, September 14, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“At some point (as soon as possible) we need a central organization as Ron envisioned it. I love all his ethics, tech and admin. The only time I saw it not work was when it was misapplied or abused. I completely see Scientology as the solution to this planet and it won’t happen without a large central organization. Period. We just have to get better at the 3D.”


Past is Prologue

1996: Attorney Graham Berry announced that he will be opposing the name change of Berendo Street in Los Angeles to L. Ron Hubbard Way. “On Tuesday, October 1, 1996, at 10:00 A.M. in the Council Chambers, Room 340, City Hall, 200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, California 90012, the full City Council for the City of Los Angeles will consider members John Ferraro and Richard Alatorre’s proposal to change the name of Berendo Street to ‘L. Ron Hubbard Way.’ Berendo Street abuts the Scientology complex in Hollywood. Council sources advise me that Scientology lobbyists have been pressuring each council member to vote for the proposed name change on a daily basis and have been approaching them at public functions for the same purpose. They are also conducting a major letter-writing campaign to council members and can be expected to have a large number of Scientologists turn out at the council meeting on October 1st, 1996, at which time each person wishing to speak will be given two minutes in which to make remarks. Accordingly, as many people as possible who are opposed to the name change, should be at the City Council meeting and sign in for that purpose as early as possible. Those same persons, and those who cannot attend, should at the very least e-mail the City Council members at the e-mail address provided below. The e-mail messages should provide as many reasons, and as much information as possible, preferably in verifiable detail, as to why the City Council should NOT approve the proposed name change.”


Random Howdy

“A question that has crossed my mind in the past is, if someone cynically creates a religion/spiritual movement for their own personal gain, but its followers truly believe in it, does one negate the other?”



Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Trial scheduled for October 11.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Arraigned on August 29.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Rizza Islam, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for October 24 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for September 19.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Found guilty of criminal and civil contempt.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Complaint filed April 28 in Tampa federal court, Scientology moving to compel arbitration. Plaintiffs filed amended complaint on August 2.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Selection of arbitrators underway. Next court hearing: February 2, 2023.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place, next status hearing October 25. Scientology petitioning US Supreme Court over appellate ruling.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for December 6.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Danny Masterson’s civil attorney adds Prince Andrew as a client and Twitter loses its mind
[TWO years ago] SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS, Episode 4: Tom Cruise’s dirty plot against publicist Pat Kingsley
[THREE years ago] Mark ‘Wise Beard Man’ Bunker: His Scientology-protesting past and political future
[FOUR years ago] Jesse Prince, witness to Scientology’s ugliest behavior, spills it all in new book
[FIVE years ago] Is Ohio’s newest legislator a Scientologist? ‘I had him on the cans,’ says our man in Cincy
[SIX years ago] DRONE FLYOVER: Scientology’s secret base where David Miscavige keeps wife out of sight
[SEVEN years ago] Another rare Scientology video leaks, and this time we see its long vanished president
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: Smile while you write that check, pardner!
[NINE years ago] THE TEXAS POST-GAME REPORT: Scientology, Monique Rathbun, and Judge Dib Waldrip
[ELEVEN years ago] The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 8: Mike Rinder


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,787 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,292 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,842 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,832 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,723 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,028 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,898 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,003 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,476 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,792 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,358 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,277 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,445 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,025 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,287 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,323 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,038 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,603 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 918 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,093 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,644 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,775 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,113 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,968 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,087 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,443 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,746 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,852 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,250 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,126 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,709 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,204 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,458 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,567 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 14, 2022 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, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), 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, 15 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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