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.