The reverberations from Leah Remini’s Scientology exit continue: last week Oscar winning “Crash” writer-director Paul Haggis posted an open letter to Remini giving her support as a fellow escapee. Scientology then attacked Haggis in their own statement. This newest scandal comes just 13 months after Katie Holmes bolted from Scientology and her marriage to grand poobah Tom Cruise. It’s also just a couple of months since erstwhile members Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith had to shut down their Scientology-oriented private school in Calabasas, California.
Haggis’s letter, I’ve been told, may have come at a price. He’s busy finishing up his new movie, called “Third Person,” which I wrote about before Cannes. Haggis, I heard was warned by friends and advisers not to comment on Remini’s situation because it could affect getting a distributor for “Third Person” when it debuts in Toronto next month. I asked Haggis about this in an email this weekend. He responded: “It was wise advice. I’ve just never been good at taking wise advice.”
Remini’s escape from Scientology involved taking all of her family with her lest they be permanently separated– what Scientology calls being “disconnected.” The cult responded in their statement against Haggis that no such things exists. We know that’s not true. In fact, one reason Haggis and his ex wife Deborah Rennard left the group was because they’d been “disconnected” from Rennard’s parents– who’d left a year before they did.
The Scientology screed against Haggis by the way is funny. They say Haggis “has aligned himself with a small posse of lunatics”– I mean, really, this is the pot calling the kettle black. They also try to paint Haggis as self-promoting. But he didn’t even mention his new film in the open letter. I will tell you again that it’s called “Third Person,” stars Liam Neeson and an all star cast including Mila Kunis, and I hope it gets a great distributor because it deserves one.