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As David Miscavige restored Scientology’s events, here are the celebs who showed up

In March 2019, a full year before the pandemic lockdowns began, Scientology held its annual birthday event for founder L. Ron Hubbard at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida, and it marked something of a high-water mark for attendance by big names.

In photos of the crowd posted in a Scientology press release, we spotted both John Travolta and Tom Cruise in the front row, the first time we’d ever seen them both at the same event. Actress Erika Christensen was also there, and we hadn’t seen her at any event before.

Less famous, perhaps, but in some ways a bigger stunner for us was seeing Greta Van Susteren’s husband, retired attorney John Coale, in the front row, as well as the elusive Gottfried Helnwein, the Austrian artist who likes to play down his Scientology involvement.

All in all, it was a pretty stunning turnout for church leader David Miscavige as he presided over the celebration of Hubbard.


A year later, however, literally on the eve of the 2020 LRH Birthday Event, the pandemic lockdowns began and the affair was canceled at the very last minute. Like the rest of the world, Scientology then had to deal with a very different reality.

In 2021, Miscavige began holding the events again, but at the Fort Harrison Hotel auditorium in Clearwater, Florida, while other initiatives, like his Ideal Org program, remained on hold.

Then, with the pandemic having receded, it was time this past fall for Miscavige to return the big annual events to their original locations, starting with the autumn gala of the International Association of Scientologists, the IAS, which traditionally takes place at the UK Headquarters, Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, England under a big tent.

He followed that by returning the 2024 New Year’s Event to its proper place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

And on March 16, the Hubbard birthday bash returned to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida.

Three big events over four months, with the Ideal Org project also being revived. And how was the celebrity involvement?

Well, after we discovered that John Travolta and Elisabeth Moss had attended the Birthday Event, we decided to go back and look through the press releases for the other events to see what we might have missed. Here’s what we found.

The IAS Gala, November 3-5, 2023, Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, England

What we already knew: Dharma and Greg actress Jenna Elfman was announced ahead of time by Scientology as the emcee of the Sunday Charity Ball, so we weren’t surprised to see photos of her at the event. (In fact, she posted some of them herself to document what she wore each night of the three-day shindig.)

And Scientology itself put up this somewhat awkward looking portrait of Elfman as she emceed the Sunday night party.



But the big news from the IAS event, of course, was that not only did Tom Cruise fly to the Friday night opening ceremony in his helicopter, but on Saturday, at the Patron’s Ball, he pressed the flesh with the attendees, who then freely posted their photos of the Top Gun actor on their social media feeds.


We’re more convinced than ever that this was encouraged by Scientology, which is normally very secretive about the attendance of celebs, because it wanted to counter months of speculation by tabloids that Cruise had ditched Scientology. (Fat chance.)

We remember hearing from a lot of people who wondered if perpetual celebrity suckup (and The Simpsons voice actress) Nancy Cartwright was in attendance, but we didn’t see any sign of her.

But now, after going back and looking through the Scientology press release, we found this shot of the front row that not only shows Jenna Elfman and her husband Bodhi, but also wealthy donor Trish Duggan (naturally), and next to her, in white, Nancy.


That’s definitely her. And the gent between Jenna and Trish? Has Trish got a new guy? Let us know if you recognize him.

2024 New Year’s Event (taped December 16, 2023), Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles

We found a couple of intriguing things when we went back to the press release for the New Year’s event in LA. First, Traffic actress Erika Christensen was in the front row, as she had been at the LRH Birthday Event in 2019. The photo is a little blurry, but there’s no mistaking her.



We also found another person in the front row that looks very much to us like Juliette Lewis, in the brown pants.


We know the detail is not sharp, but we asked Geoff Levin for his opinion:

“It does look like her. It’s her body language as well. Check out this current performance photo against that photo.”


Hey, he has a point. Is it Juliette? We tend to think so, but we couldn’t swear to it.


L. Ron Hubbard Birthday Event, March 16, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida

We’ve seen John Travolta show up for this event several times, and it doesn’t surprise us too much to see him there: L. Ron Hubbard is his hero, and he lives not too far away in Florida.

But we had never seen Elisabeth Moss at an event before, and seeing her standing next to Travolta, and very pregnant, just really struck us as rather amazing.


As Mike Rinder pointed out, Scientology has lost some major women celebrities in recent years. Kelly Preston and Kirstie Alley moved on to Target Two, Laura Prepon defected, and Lisa Marie Presley defected and passed away.

With Jenna Elfman, Nancy Cartwright, Erika Christensen, perhaps Juliette Lewis, and definitely Elisabeth Moss showing up in addition to Tom Cruise and John Travolta at these restored events, does David Miscavige consider this part of the “expansion” he’s always crowing about?

We asked that very question in a message to Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw this week. We’ll let you know if she gets back to us.


Technology Cocktail

“You use Dianetics much the way you would use any remedy. When a fellow is burned you audit out the burn. When a woman loses a loved one you audit out the loss. When a young man can’t finish his schooling you audit out his unhappy school experiences. Dianetics is for USE. There is not a lot of admin about it. It isn’t something you use after bowing down three times to Chicago. You just USE it.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1969




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 as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner [50] Bruce Hines [51] Spanky Taylor and Karen Pressley [51] Geoff and Robbie Levin [52] Sands Hall [53] Jonny Jacobsen [54] Sandy Holeman



Source Code

“The art of Sec Checking is very, very well established. It’s one of the finest arts that we have. But it is to a large degree an art. It is restimulating the material to be picked up. And then picking it up….All right, now we’re going straight into the questions here, and the first question I’m going to ask you is: Do you know any communists personally?” — L. Ron Hubbard, March 27, 1963


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Our ship has become rather shabby. We are improving that fast. We are improving our crew appearance. We are getting a lot done. We have a lot to do. We have gone through a period of floods of new recruits. They aren’t new recruits any longer. Do your own job with initiative, snap and pop and we’ll make it all the way. We right now have lots of good, able people. We have a lot of good, effective programmes. We can make a go of it all right.” — The Commodore, March 27, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Apparently some OTs have been following the method: Become the planet, pervade it with one’s beingness and decide all is well. Health authorities in Italy indicate that only two people have died of the real coronavirus.”


Past is Prologue

1998: Following the recent Boston Herald series on Scientology, the Bay State Banner carried an article in which Scientology accuses the Herald of racism. The NAACP has declined to join in the attack on the Herald. “Reacting to a stinging five-part series in the Boston Herald on the Church of Scientology, parents at Delphi Academy, a school run by scientologists, are charging the newspaper with racism. The parents apparently object to Herald reporter Joseph Mallia’s assertion that the school is run by Scientologists and is used by the church to recruit new members. In the series, Mallia suggests the group has been aggressively courting minorities in an effort to secure new revenue. Ellen Garrison, the school’s headmistress said she and a group of parents attempted to meet with representatives from the newspaper but were rebuffed. Herald Managing Editor Andrew Gully acknowledged that he refused to meet with the parents on March 3, when they demanded a meeting, but said he told a parent he would be willing to meet with the group at a later date. But the parents never called him back. ‘That was the last I heard from them,’ he said. The next day, a group of parents were in front of the Herald’s building holding signs charging the newspaper with racism. While the school uses Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s trademarked Study Technology methodology and displays Scientology publications, Garrison maintains that the school is not affiliated with the church. ‘I started this school 18 years ago and have been headmistress since then,’ she said. ‘The Church of Scientology doesn’t run this school or finance this school. I don’t have time to talk to the children about Scientology at this school. I’m too busy trying to educate children.’ Of 21 teachers at the school, four are not scientologists, Garrison noted. Boston NAACP Branch Leader Leonard Alkins said he was approached by Scientology supporters and asked to join a media watchdog group mobilized in reaction to the Herald series. But Alkins said he was instructed by the NAACP’s national leadership not to join forces with any groups linked to Scientology.”



Random Howdy

“In a country that supposedly has 3 million-plus Scientologists they could only muster a few hundred in Portland. How much more farcical can this crap get before the remaining few wake up and screw?”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentenced to 30 years to life on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Next pretrial hearing March 26, 2024.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Some defamation claims were removed by Judge Hammock. Leah seeking to amend her complaint.
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: motion to file new complaint, hearing on May 29.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Scientology moves for religious arbitration, hearing on April 16.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



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] DA wants Toronto woman to testify as fifth accuser in Danny Masterson retrial
[TWO years ago] Scientology wants you to forget Laura D got her files because 259 ‘ministers’ had access to them
[THREE years ago] Why the upcoming ‘prelim’ is a nightmare for Danny Masterson — and for Scientology
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s founder: ‘WE are going UP while the world is coming down!’
[FIVE years ago] The Mike Rinder bobblehead: Turning the tables on Scientology’s smeary harassment
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s secret vaults get their star turn on the new TV network, and it’s nutty!
[SEVEN years ago] Reza Aslan’s ‘Believer’ episode about indie Scientology lived down to all expectations
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology’s European mouthpiece speaks at DC event honoring Marco Rubio
[NINE years ago] ‘Going Clear’: Spanky Taylor on John Travolta, Priscilla Presley, and escaping Scientology
[TEN years ago] Ryan Hamilton jumps on Narconon’s answer in Nevada drug rehab lawsuit
[ELEVEN years ago] LEAKED AUDIO: David Miscavige Declares Scientology’s Golden Age at LRH Birthday Event


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Tammy Synovec has not seen her daughter Julia in 2,852 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,347 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,862 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,412 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,402 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,283 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,587 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,458 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 5,010 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,351 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,918 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,837 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 5,005 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,586 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,847 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,883 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,599 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,163 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,478 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,653 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,204 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,335 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,673 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,526 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,647 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 3,003 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,306 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,412 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,810 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,686 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,251 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,764 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 4,018 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,127 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 27, 2024 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, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), 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


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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