Sunday, April 21, 2024

The New Yorker Magazine Takes on Scientology in Hollywood: Bravo!


The New Yorker– venerable and respected–has taken on the Church of Scientology.

Lawrence Wright’s piece, called “The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology,” chronicles the Oscar winning screenwriter and film director’s departure from Scientology after 34 years. It’s something this reporter has written about often, not only Haggis’s exit but that of other Hollywood stars. Wright goes even further: he has actor Josh Brolin describe his brief encounter with Scientology. It scared him. Brolin–smart, respected–has taken a big chance here because Scientology is vindictive. They’ve already called him a liar less than 24 hours since his anecdote was published.

I know Josh Brolin, and he’s no liar. He says he saw John Travolta try to “heal” Marlon Brando using Scientology techniques. “It was f–ing bizarre,” Brolin said.

I told readers of this column last year that Haggis left Scientology for two reasons: their campaign for Prop 8 against gay marriage, and for their treatment of former members. Haggis told me that when his in-laws left the Church, he and his wife were told to have nothing to do with them anymore. They banned the Haggis’s child from seeing his grandparents. This went on for a year, Paul told me. The toll it took was brutal on the family. Haggis’s in laws sued to see their grandson. Finally, Haggis and his wife, actress Deborah Rennard, caved in, reunited with the grandparents, and exited Scientology. The whole story, in detail, is in The New Yorker piece.

For years I’ve written about the horrors of Scientology, right up through Kelly Preston, John Travolta’s wife, confronting me in Memphis on the night before Isaac Hayes’s bizarre Scientology tinged funeral. Preston and Tommy Davis, chief celebrity wrangler for Scientology, then went to my bosses at Fox News to complain about me. Or more. I’ve also written about Tom Cruise‘s antics, Kirstie Alley‘s Scientology based diet plan, about Davis’s wife, Jessica Feschbach, who was Katie Holmes’s “monitor” when she first was scooped up into Cruise’s world and cut off from family and friends.  I also wrote about actor Jason Beghe, and how he escaped after 14 years. And lots more. Lawrence Wright‘s piece–which is long and incredibly detailed and comprehensive–is a brilliant job and a must read.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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