Monday, April 15, 2024

Scientology vs. HBO May Also Be the End of Tom Cruise at Warner Bros.


The war between the cult of Scientology and HBO could have a domino effect in other places. Yesterday, Scientology took out a full page ad in the New York Times decrying HBO for its upcoming documentary “Going Clear.” Based on Lawrence Wright’s much praised book of the same name, “Going Clear” is directed by Alex Gibney. The book rips open the cult’s secrets along with many stories about Scientology’s Hollywood members including Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

When “Going Clear” is finally seen, we’ll see just how much of it takes in Hollywood. That may put HBO’s parent company, Time Warner, in some trouble. HBO’s cousins are Warner Bros, movie studio and CNN. Also still in the family, although at arms’ reach, are the Time Inc magazines including People and Entertainment Weekly.

Will Cruise make another movie at Warner’s, or ever do publicity again with People or EW? What about Travolta and some of the others who are identified with Scientology like Kirstie Alley, Juliette Lewis, Jenna Elfman, and so on? Cruise’s biggest film other than a franchise in 10 years was “Edge of Tomorrow,” at Warner’s last year. His next three announced projects are at Paramount, but you never know when a script will come along that Cruise wants– and it’s at HBO.

And what of Travolta? He’s moving into TV with “American Crime Story” on F/X. An HBO series for a fading film star is not out of the question. But it may be for HBO if Travolta’s Scientology travails are revealed.

PS I don’t see Gibney pulling punches. His Lance Armstrong and Wikileaks docs were exemplary in how they went for the good stuff. If I were the people in “Going Clear,” I’d be nervous.

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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