Lots of money and a lack of ideas
(Only the excerpt relevant to Battlefield Earth)
August 14, 2000
SPIEGEL 33/2000, pp. 80
German media companies with billions from the New Market throng to Hollywood: they finance their expensive projects with world stars, buy up movie packages or even entire firms. Their money is being taken with much pleasure, but the nouveau rich investors are not regarded seriously.
For years the script was passed back and forth like a dirty porno book. "Battlefield Earth," a more than 1,000 page science fiction novel by Scientology founder Ron Hubbard, was regarded as too great of a risk by film managers in the major studios.
Then out came a Nobody from Germany, and the project took form. Ruediger ("Barry") Baeres, 40, felt he was up to the task shunned by the professionals. The founder and chief of Intertainment AG appeared as co-financier and partner of Ellie Samaha, a Lebanese by birth, an outsider in the American movie metropolis.
Several months ago the 65 million dollar project made it into the American movie theaters - and failed. Hardly anybody wanted to see the work in which Baeres had placed such great hope; after several weeks the film was taken off the schedules. It did not even make it to the German movie houses. Critics ridiculed the work with Scientologist John Travolta in the lead role as an absolutely miserable experience (Los Angeles Times), and said it had a good chance of getting the reputation of being the worst film of the new century (New York Times).
Now the Samaha/Baeres team is trying out "Champs," a movie about car racing with Sylvester Stallone. German calendar beauty Verona Feldbusch was permitted to play a little role for which Samaha obviously told her "I'll make you a star."
Financier Baeres was in on 60 films with Franchise Pictures, a company belonging to a former nightclub owner. The lawyer wants to finance the costs of at least 1.2 billion marks with the sale of the European rights - a bold plan.
There are currently many Barrys in Hollywood - German investors with money to spend. Small producers and movie brokers, who for years were insiders to the field, suddenly wanted to go along with an international film company up front.
Travolta eating away his frustration over Scientology flop
June 25, 2000
Oesterreichischen Kronen Zeitung/Scheinwerfer
Packing on frustration
John Travolta, the once so wiry dance star from the "Stayin Alive" movie, and his 292 pounds of body weight are approaching the dimensions of former sex symbol Marlon Brando, who now tips the scales at 343 pounds.
Quite obviously, according to Travolta's friends, John is eating out of frustration. The ballooned-out Scientology drone ["Nachbeter": mindless repeater] has committed a 1.4 billion shilling flop with his film "Battlefield Earth," a novel by his master teacher, Scientology inventor L. Ron Hubbard. Critics in the USA and London have shredded "Battlefield Earth" into the celluloid graveyard: "This loud, overblown monstrosity is even worse than the worst Sci-Fi turkey. Total feeblemindedness for 100 million dollars."
Especially bad for John Travolta - he lavished millions of his own money upon the Ron Hubbard project. "The show is an attempt of an unskilled adult to re-write Spartacus as a science fiction story," a London film critic annihilated Ron Hubbard's book, while "Battlefield Earth" crashed at America's film theaters without a whine or a whimper.
The film is set in the year 3000. Humankind is threatened by extermination, its members crawl around in caves and and are enslaved by tyrannical Psycholos [sic]. The Psycholos are supposed to be twelve feet tall, but look more like regular mortals in oversized ski boots.
Their sneering security chief is John Travolta. Does them no good. Because a blond rogue does away with slavery and revs up the engines of jets that have not been flown for a thousand years after a couple of hours on a flight simulator. Travolta's part is to play the stupidest of all monsters in the history of film, as he uses his secret knowledge to provide for his Spartacus antagonist.
Star producer Roman Polanski listened to the news of the box office catastrophe with a touch of satisfaction. Polanski had wanted to film Dostoyevski's "Der Doppelgaenger" with John Travolta. "On the second day, just as the roles were being read, Travolta threw his script away and left. He was frustrated. The financial bloodletting may have hit Travolta hard, who, with his wife Kelly Preston have always been paraded as a model couple for Scientology.
However, there is also a good side to the grandiose flop. Nobody will become a Scientologists because of "Battlefield Earth." Just the opposite. The whole thing will not help Scientology at all.
approx. May 23, 2000
Spiegel 21/2000, page 272
Hollywood's leading Scientologist John Travolta fulfilled his life's dream by filming a space thriller from his sect guru - and made a terrible fool of himself.
Though it is clear that life is risky, and that applies to movies, too. Movies can cause husbands to leave their wives because they do not look like Julia Roberts in "Notting Hill"; they can lead teenagers astray when they go out and obtain fully automatic weapons and run amok like "Natural Born Killers"; they can give people the idea of jumping off the roof of a skyscrapers believing that they are capable of flying like Superman.
This spring, the early warning systems of culture criticism found a new reason to sound the alarm: a science fiction film by the name of "Battlefield Earth" was coming to the screen. The novel on which it is based originated from a man by the name of L. Ron Hubbard, who became known in his lifetime for the founding of the Scientology Church.
That alone would have been suspicious enough to send the the readers and guardians of the entertainment sections of the newspapers to their word processing computers with typing fingers at the ready. But things got better still: the leading actor and co-producer of the film is named John Travolta - a Hollywood star, no less, who at $20 million a film is one of the surest and best-paid public magnets, and a member of Hubbard's Club besides.
Before the earth turned into a battlefield on the movie screen, the sirens of the American media were wailing. There was talk of "subtly manipulated messages" and even the otherwise prudent New York Times asked with concern, "Could this be an insidious attempt to lure unsuspecting moviegoers into Scientology?" In other words, the conspiracy theorists rumbled almost as loudly as in the 1970s and '80s when it was said that Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" could lead people to Satan worship, which allegedly could be proved by playing the song backwards.
Except for a few wild professors, of course, nobody ever tried that; generations of Led Zeppelin listeners have been spared the clutches of Lucifer, and neither will Battlefield Earth seduce the public with refined sect propaganda, because the film does not carry messages nor does it raise questions outside of why "Battlefield" ever made it to film without someone crying "Stop! This film will turn into our own battlefield and we will all be buried by it!"
With the exception of the nearly senseless, with or without Scientology, John Travolta who dreamt of filming this science fiction story for 15 years: a novel in which a few remaining surviving people combat their oppressors from outer space. A book which only has one connection to the cosmos of the aliens: it is extraterrestrially bad.
He had help from a man by the name of Elie Samaha, a Lebanese who immigrated to America 20 years ago to earn his fortune by cleaning fabrics for people who wanted to be celebrities and then risked a social promotion: he became a film producer.
His idea: he sought out material of which stars had dreamt for years and offered them a fast production - provided that the millionaires would work for far less money. On top of that, the Lebanese had another trick to save money: he filmed in Canada.
In that manner Samaha managed to hammer down the budget for Battlefield Earth from 90 to 64 million dollars - whoever sees the film, however, will ask himself where the money was spent. Okay, John Travolta, the leader of the bad guys, has poisonous green teeth and a haircut that looks like he listens to Reggae all day: $750; okay, he drinks poisonous yellow cocktails out of test tubes: $18; and okay, the script of the entire movie apparently got lost on which account there was a crisis and probably monkeys had to be caught and given many cans of beer so they could put something together: $960.
As a member of the audience, one soon gives up looking for meaning in this chaos of cadaverous dialogue and clinically dead sequences and asks just one last question: "Show me the money," where is the money? It looks here as if a blind man tried to stage a futuristic version of the Karl May festival. In a trash dumpster in Toronto. With a 40 watt bulb for lighting.
The film catastrophe had only one redeeming value: hardly had the movie started in the USA than the hysterics in the editorial department were called off and the annihilation writers took the command. A "planetary disaster" judged Time, "probably the worst film of the century," wrote the New York Times.
In vain one waited for just one statement from Scientology. Probably for a good reason. Until now the psycho-association enjoyed the fact that it was feared by many people who would not break out in derisive laughter as soon as its name was heard.
There are two alternatives in saving the ugly mug of the soul sect: either they hold Travolta responsible for this battlefield of a movie, as any other company would do when one of its image bearers fail, and throw him out.
Or they grit their teeth and stand through the catastrophe. The film can always be used as an instrument of torture. Whoever is a voluntary member of Hubbard's shop has to be a masochist and is surely enthused by this new punishment: "Scientology has the pleasure of sharing with you that you have the honor of watching Battlefield Earth - 50 times."
Los Angeles - John Travolta filmed a book by sect leader Ron L. Hubbard, founder of "Scientology," for 150 million marks - but the work turned into a fiasco. The "Sunday Times" reported that after hordes of criticism about "Battlefield Earth," tickets are being given away now, soon after the movie's start.
Conspirators are among us
The Universe as Delusion and Science:
Scientology in the Movies
Los Angeles, USA
May 20, 2000
by Andrian Kreye
John Travolta is an Operating Thetan of the highest level of clearing, which means, according to the teachings of the Church of Scientology, that Travolta is capable of controlling material, energy, space, time, form and life on the planet earth. Not only that but, as a member of the sect since 1975, the actor has worked had to liberate himself from all negative influences of extraterrestrial powers and reach the stated goal of all Scientology adherents.
But John Travolta is also a superstar of the highest income level, and, according to the teachings of Hollywood, that means that he is capable of controlling budgets, producers, studios and audience. And only on that account was he able to fulfill a dream: "Battlefield Earth," which was written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, was filmed with Travolta in the lead role
The action can be related quickly. In the year 3000, the Earth is dominated by extraterrestrial monsters called Psychlos who keep people on earth as beasts of burden, until a young hero instigates an uprising of the slaves and liberates humanity from servitude.
For years, no studio dared risk this project. The association to the sect was regarded as too precarious, and the book, in spite of 12 million copies sold, as unfilmable junk. Until Elie Samaha approached Travolta. The former nightclub owner had established Franchise Pictures, a B movie production company, in Hollywood with a concept of genius. He took on the dream projects of the stars which nobody else wanted to produce, obtained the rights at a cheap price and talked the stars into decreasing their wage to a minimum. That is how he produced "The Big Kahuna" for Kevin Spacey and "The Whole Nine Yards" for Bruce Willis; in "The Pledge" with Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn directed the production. Such names guaranteed not only prestige in the field, but also a practically unlimited amount of credit, a distributorship and a fat profit.
Psychiatrists are Extraterrestrials
Nevertheless, "Battlefield Earth" was still a delicate matter. It is no secret that John Travolta had had no previous special interest in the genre of science fiction or that he viewed the film as paying homage to sect founder Hubbard, who died in 1986. On the other hand, Travolta is also an especially hot star, and Elie Samaha was not concerned with contextual trivialities. He wanted to make money and play in the big leagues. Neither did it bother him that the conspiracy theories were making their rounds even before the filming began: Scientology was said to be financing the film, coauthoring the script and supervising the production. Accusations which the producers could credibly deny. The high point of the conspiracy theories was that the film contained so-called subliminal messages which could drive moviegoers into the arms of the sect.
That is improbable. In order for subliminal messages, that means suggestive video and sound clips, to have a direct, intended effect upon the unconscious, a person would have to see "Battlefield Earth" for several weeks at least once a day. And that would not drive a person into the arms of the sect, but into desperation, because "Battlefield Earth" is such a painfully stupid work that the New York Times wrote, "It may be somewhat premature, but this is probably the worst film of the century."
John Travolta and his Psychlos - seven foot high creatures with greasy dreadlocks and rotten teeth - stumble around through the film on their platform shoes as elegantly as a crowed of drunken transvestites in ski boots. Even the special effects look like a video game designer programmed them at home on his iMac; and the landscapes of the future are reminiscent of the clumsily drawn cover pictures of the old Perry Rhodan books.
Of course elements of Hubbard's worldview show up in the film script. One does not need special linguistic knowledge to recognize that the name of the "Psychlo" monsters are rooted in the Scientology teachings. They are based, for the most part, on Hubbard's fanatic hatred of psychiatry. An extraterrestrial population, it is written in the scriptures of the sect founder, had conspired to stop the spiritual development of humanity by use of implants. These extraterrestrial criminals were called "Psychs." Their method was called "psychiatry." Only Scientology can save the world from this.
If the teachings of the Master remind one of simple pulp fiction, that is not completely wrong. In the 1930s and 1940s, Hubbard made a name for himself as an author of pulp and futuristic fiction. He accumulated his first experiences with spiritism in Pasadena with the Ordo Templi Orientis, a sect of adherents of the English Satanist, Aleister Crowley, whom Hubbard ran into in 1945. In the years following, Hubbard developed the pseudo-science of "Dianetics," a combination of science fiction babble, popular psychology and Satanism, which he published in 1950 as a book. In 1954, he founded the Church of Scientology.
Hubbard recognized the effect which Hollywood stars had upon publicity early on. In 1955, he started "Project Celebrity." The first attempt to win celebrities like Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Walt Disney and Groucho Marx for the sect failed. It was not until Hubbard's successor, David Miscavige, established the "Celebrity Center," that a department of the church dedicated exclusively to the task succeeded in tending to and recruiting stars - besides John Travolta, actors like Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Kirstie Alley, and musicians like Chick Corea, Isaac Hayes and Al Jarreau belong to Scientology.
The "Celebrity Center developed into an extremely effective technique. First the recruiters research the psychological and emotional weak points, the circle of acquaintances and the past of the target person. Then non-obligatory contacts are made. A discussion does not even occur until the "Admiration bombing" phase begins - the complete overwhelm of the star's fragile ego with admiration and attention. The perfect bait for a race of people who are plagued by permanent self-doubt and are on a search for meaning in life. Once the prominent members are won, they are held with therapies, professional counseling and luxurious care. The Church of Scientology has created a position of power with these stars in Hollywood which is to be taken seriously. When the German state attorney's office and Constitutional Security began to investigate Scientology, the sect launched a human rights campaign and wrote a letter to Chancellor Kohl which was even signed by non-members Dustin Hoffman, Goldie Hawn and Oliver Stone.
According to L. Ron Hubbard's plan to gain key positions in society with Scientologists, "Battlefield Earth" is a success. Even if it can be doubted that the film so moved someone that they would seek spiritual salvation in the teachings of Hubbard, John Travolta still provided a $65 million dollar testimony to faith. There he stood in the MTV studio and the moderator boldly asked him about the book's circumstances. Travolta responded briefly with something about Hubbard, the best seller author and spiritual prophet; that was followed by a change of subject, film clips, commercial break and his appearance was over. That is marketing: it is not about praising the message or the product. As long as the Coca-Cola signs are posted along the street, the trademarks will lodge in peoples' minds.
Perhaps John Travolta will even become a martyr of the Church of Scientology. Nobody has accomplished such a formidable comeback as the fallen "Saturday Night Fever" star who had to keep his head above water for years with silly clothes. "Pulp Fiction," "Operation Broken Arrow" and "In the Body of the Enemy" [not sure of English title - trans.] established him as the most sovereign bad guy in Hollywood. All his embarrassing flops were forgiven.
The mood of the theater-going public, though, is unfathomable. One's image can be quickly ruined. And who would take a sect member in a Halloween costume seriously.
How his new Scientology film, "Battlefield Earth," has been shot out of the air
Insults and Mockery for John Travolta
May 16, 2000
Hollywood - All America is cursing derisively and slapping its thighs with laughter. The target of the biting mockery: actor John Travolta (45) in his new film "Battlefield Earth," based on a science fiction novel by Scientology founder Ron Hobbard [sic]. Travolta, a professed Scientologist for 21 years, risked portraying material from the controversial sect in this film for the second time since the movie debacle "Phenomenon." Not only that, but he is both co-producer and main actor. The American enemies of Scientology have been rubbing their hands ever since the premiere of "Battlefield Earth" six days ago in Hollywood. The tenor: calling for a boycott of the film would be completely superfluous. The Washington Post wrote, "Even a million monkeys with a million paintbrushes could not create in a million years anything nearly as weak-minded as Battlefield Earth." Media journal "Variety" ridiculed, "Against all presumptions, it is still possible to make an entertainment film which is too silly for this metier. The dialogue reeks to high heaven, the figures are made out of cardboard and logic is not at hand." Newsweek wrote that the film "is religious propaganda disguised as science fiction humor. If it would have at least been humorous ..." Here is what it is about: aliens have made a wasteland out of earth and enslaved humanity. John Travolta is an alien security chief. Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper) battles for a better life. And lo and behold: all ends well. Opens in Germany on October 5.
John Travolta's vanity gets him a gigantic flop
Critics regard his new film "Battlefield Earth" as the worst of the century
May 16, 2000
At $25 million a film, he is indeed one of the highest paid film actors in history, but now John Travolta, 46, has also provided us with one of the greatest film flops in history: his "Battlefield Earth" has been shredded as hardly any film before, and on its premier weekend - although it ran in over 3,300 U.S. movie theaters - it took in on $12.3 million.
"Battlefield Earth," is based on the science fiction novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. John Travolta, professed member of Scientology, does not only play the lead role, but he also co-produced the $80 million film. After a catastrophic start, experts estimate that the film will not return even a fraction of its production costs.
The film is set in the year 3000, when the earth will be ruled by extraterrestrials called "Psychlos." With the help of platform boots and dreadlocks, Travolta plays the 8 foot tall security chief of the Psychlos called Terl. Barry Pepper ("Saving Private Ryan") is his human opponent.
On Sunday, America's most well-known TV critic, Roger Ebert, described the work by Travolta as "one of the most gruesome films I have ever seen." The Los Angeles Time made fun of the "ridiculous dialogue" and described the film as a "totally awful experience."
John Travolta, who was once became famous with "Saturday Night Fever", was not greatly upset. "The film," he said, "symbolizes the power I have. I can start things which a studio would not normally take on. If I cannot use my power today, what is it all for?" This is also what America's Scientology opponents are asking. They accuse Travolta and the Warner Brothers distribution company of subliminally advertising in the film for the sect. Internet pages like Cultwatch and Factnet even assert that the film had been secretly financed by the Scientology sect and that the sect intends to recruit new adherents with the film. That could backfire however, if, as the New York Times writes, Battlefield Earth "turns out to be the worst film of the century."
For one film producer who does not want to reveal his name, the film is simply "an $80 million shell for John Travolta's vanity."
Daughter for John Travolta and Kelly Preston
Los Angeles, USA
April 4, 2000
AFP Agence France-Presse GmbH 2000
U.S. husband-wife acting couple John Travolta and Kelly Preston had a daughter on Monday. The four kilogram, 80 gram daughter, who came into the world in a Los Angeles hospital, is to be called Ella Bleu. Mother and child, according to statements by a spokesman for the family, are doing well. The couple already has an eight-year-old boy. Travolta is presently to be seen on the silver screen in the film "Battlefield Earth" ("Schlachtfeld Erde"). The film script is based upon a novel by the founder of the Scientology movement, Ron Hubbard. The Hollywood star, who celebrated his first world hit in the late 1970s with "Saturday Night Fever," is himself an adherent of the organization.
Travolta shooting second Science Fiction film
Los Angeles, USA
January 12, 2000
Los Angeles (dpa) - Even before the first part of the science fiction film "Battlefield Earth" has been shown in the theaters, lead actor John Travolta is already engaged in making a sequel. According to the "Hollywood Reporter," production of a second part with a budget of around $50 million has already begun. Both the films are based on works authored by Ron Hubbard in 1982. The author is the founder of the controversial Scientology community, to which Travolta belongs.
From: "Stern" 4/99, Germany
approx. January 22, 1999
If Ron Hubbard were still alive, the founder of the Scientology sect would certainly be happy: John Travolta, one of his most famous adherents has rearranged his calendar in order to be able to play in the film "Battlefield Earth." Hubbard wrote the science fiction epic in 1982. Travolta will take the role of Terl, an extraterrestrial who has enslaved mankind and has them digging away underground in the mines. As producer he also will assume a portion of the cost of the $80 million project. A bold investment. Before him, no studio found Hubbard's books good enough to make into a film.
Travolta realizes SF material from Scientology Founder Hubbard
January 14, 1999
Los Angeles - Two of John Travolta's long-term projects, "Battlefield Earth" and a biographical picture about Jimmy Roselli, are closer to being realized. The SF action story by Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, is now supposed to be produced by an independent firm for $70 million, and will be distributed by Warner. MGM, Fox and other studios passed because they could not budget the film for under $100 million. Now, Franchise Entertainment has been engaged and plans filming to begin in July under the direction of Roger Christian. Travolta will take the role of a leader of extraterrestrials who have subjugated earth's inhabitants. Elie Samah, Travolta's manager, Jonathan Krane, and Travolta will produce. In March, Travolta plans to play (and sing) Roselli, a singer competitor of Frank Sinatra, in "Standing Room Only." Gus Van Sant is to stage the production for Disney. Krane, Beverly Cahme and Van Sant will produce when the deal is finalized. Both scripts are written by Corey Mandel.
Scientology conquers Hollywood
From: "DIE WELT"
December 11, 1998
John Travolta, the actor who is an admitted adherent of the organization, wants to film the science fiction novel "Battleship Earth" by Ron Hubbard, the Founder of Scientology. The sect of the stars is reaching, for the first time, for the control of a large film production.
by Hanns-Georg Rodek and Eggert Schröder
The auditor is sitting on the left. The E-meter is set in the middle. John Travolta sits to the right. The auditor asks questions in order to find a charged area in Travolta's reactive mind (translated: to release unresolved conflicts from his subconscious). Travolta talks about his humiliation in having been played, on the screen, in "Look Who's talking now" by a baby with Thomas Gottschalk's voice. The needle of the E-meter goes off the scale; apparently this is a charged area. The auditor searches some more. Travolta admits that he hated disco music as a child. The E-meter reacts strongly.
That is a possible "auditing" scenario that Travolta or any other active Scientologist has to subject themselves to. Freud called it a "session," most think of it as brainwashing, however the Scientologists use it to try to reach a higher degree of consciousness. Retrieving "unknown data" from the "reactive mind" and "restoring analytical awareness" are some descriptions of the procedure by which the sects makes a good living and which provides them with a good insight into the psyche of their clients. Expenses for the "removal of negative thoughts" could soon, according to an agreement between Scientology and the Internal Revenue Service, even be deducted as a donation from taxes.
There is no better place than Hollywood for sect Founder L. Ron Hubbard's combined creed of self-improvement and "make money, make more money." Stars spoiled by material success find themselves in a constant search for meaning in life. Barbra Streisand, Madonna and Courtney Love have been seen in recent times with red bands about their wrists - a recognition symbol of the Adepts of the Kabbala, followers of an ancient Jewish secret doctrine.
Reincarnation believers include Shirley MacLaine ("I have lived in France in the Middle Ages"), Cher ("high priestess of a Pharaoh") and Sean Connery ("tribal prince in the African jungle"). Richard Gere, Tina Turner, Oliver Stone and star of screen violence Steven Seagal swear by the non-violence of Buddhism.
Then there is the famous El Capitan movie theater on Hollywood Boulevard. In its immediate vicinity Scientology operates a center for personality tests, where stars such as Tom Cruise or Al Jarreau unhesitantly lay $5,000 down on the table for an E-meter. Catercornered to this is the museum of the deceased L. Ron Hubbard. The California headquarters of the self-named church lies a few blocks down the road in a concrete building.
The "Celebrity Center," where well-known Scientologists including Nicole Kidman and Chick Corea (often) like to be seen as guests, is also in the north of Los Angeles. Conservative estimates put the number of staff employed by the organization in Hollywood at about 2,000 - many more not on the pay roll are standing by the large studios such as Paramount or Universal.
Now Scientology is finally moving into the movie business. John Travolta announced on Thursday that he wants to film "Battleship Earth," a science fiction novel by Hubbard. He wants to produce the film financed by MGM, and play an extraterrestrial. It would be the first novel by Hubbard to make it to the silver screen.
Hubbard is said to have written "Battleship Earth" in 1982, four years before his death. The setting: in the year 3000 the Psychlos, extraterrestrial beings who live off gas, rule the earth. The E.T. monsters are 12 feet high, have glowing amber eyes, and have the humans working by day as slaves in the mines. The good earthling, Johnnie Goodboy Tyler, leads a revolt against the evil Psychlos and their leader, Terl (played by Travolta). The film is supposed to have a budget of $80 million. Filming could begin any time, as the next film planned with Travolta, "The Shipping News," based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Annie Proulx, slipped into a production hole because of budget disputes between producer Fred Schepisi and Columbia Tristar. The script for "Battleship Earth" was written two years ago, and now moves to number one on Travolta's priority list.
"Not the extraterrestrials, but their superstition, keeps humanity in chains, until Johnnie Goodboy Tyler breaks free," explained Hubbard in his novel, which has been translated into twelve languages and has reached worldwide distribution of twelve million copies. "We are not bringing Scientology concepts into the theater with 'Battlefield Earth'. This is a matter of a science fiction novel and a really good story," MGM speaker Randy Greenberg defended himself.
Opponents of the Scientologists have criticized Travolta films "Primary Colors" and "Phenomenon." Two disk jockeys from Michigan, Mitch Gill and Tommy Walker, have asserted that the music from "Phenomenon" played backwards sounds like "Do you miss Ron?" While this sounds like the MacCartney death theory (supposedly the sentence "Paul is dead" appears in a Beatles song played backwards), the setting of the film shows similarities to the Scientology teaching of enlightenment through mental exercises.
"George" magazine asserted that President Bill Clinton and John Travolta came to a sort of agreement in April, 1996, shortly before the filming of "Primary Colors" began. Clinton was said to have wanted to make an effort to have Scientology acknowledged as a church in Germany. In return, Travolta was to portray a friendlier picture of the fictitious president, who strongly resembled the real Bill Clinton.
In the 1930's Hubbard worked as a script writer and as a reader for film scripts for Hollywood studios, and has always promoted the recruitment of celebrities for his community. John Travolta, his wife Kelly Preston, Tom Cruise, TV stars Kirstie Alley and Jenna Elfman, Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley are the most prominent Hollywood Scientologists.
MGM is not disturbed that followers of the Youth Union in Germany tried to boycott the Cruise film, "Mission Impossible" or Travolta's "Phenomenon": "The boycott had no impact upon the income of 'Mission Impossible'," asserted company speaker Greenberg. "The film ran very well in Germany."
The US actor and Scientologist, John Travolta has, together with several members of congress, again demanded the recognition of Scientology in Germany. The USA must have the courage "to point the finger at Germany," even if it is an allied country, said Travolta on Thursday at a press conference in Washington. If an important country such as Germany could not be held to the context of human rights, then critics in Iraq, China and Sudan could hardly be held to account, the movie star continued. Furthermore, the US Congress should draw up a bill which demanded that Germany respect religious freedom. A proposal similar to this has already been defeated in the US House of Representatives. Unlike the USA, Germany does not recognize Scientology as a church.
Frankfurt New Press
April 4, 1998
by Helmut Rather
Producer Allan Carr knows today that John Travolta is a bigger attraction than ever. That was his main argument for initiating the re-release of the 20 year old hit "Grease" last year. And he was right. The first weekend the nostalgic flick came close on the heels of the unstoppable "Titanic", second place at the US box offices.
One week earlier, Travolta's latest film had taken second place: "Primary Colors," the satire about the sexual and peculiar adventures of a Southern governor, who fits President Bill Clinton to a tee. Shortly before, the part Italian movie star had appeared on the screen as a hostage taker. In "Mad City" he played an unemployed museum guard who threatened a school class in order to get his lost job back. The socially critical film by Constantin Costa-Gavras even impressed the critics, but was not a big public success. Nevertheless, there is no question: the 44-year-old Travolta belongs, for the time being, to the quite small group of Hollywood superstars.
After several artistic and commercial flops in the 80's, this leads the man back to his firm belief in the principles of the Scientology sect, which is under surveillance by the Office of Constitutional Protection in Germany. When he received a "Golden Globe" several years ago for his roll in "Get Shorty", he did not thank his mother or his producer, as did other recipients. Instead he quoted the Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, "No man can be happy without a goal, and no man can be happy without believing in his ability to reach this goal."
Backstage he announced his interest in filming Hubbard's science fiction book, "Battlefield Earth." That has not yet happened. But critics believe that other Travolta films in the past years contain secret messages from the sect. Such as in "Phenomenon", about a man with supernatural abilities, or in "Michael", an abstruse archangel film. In the meantime, Travolta gives many interviews at the Scientology Celebrity Center in Hollywood. In case Hollywood decides to also re-release "Saturday Night Fever" from 1977, the star, who was then thin with beaming blue eyes, will surely make the Scientology Church more attractive. Love, music and religion are an extremely attractive combination for millions.
Scientology Critic in custody for usenet posting
June 1, 2001
Visit http://www.heise.de and search their archive for the original article in German. Here is a review in English of the Heise article on Keith Henson:
Keith Henson was sentenced to 200 days in jail for allegedly publishing a threat against Scientologists.
As noted by Heise Online, "What sealed his fate was a short sentence he typed in as an reply to a post in the alt.religion.scientology news group under the heading 'Re: Gold Base French-German ICBM/Tom Cruise Missile Coordinates': "Modern weapons are accurate to a matter of a few tens of yards.'"
According to the court, the above was the threat. Henson was also held accountible for demonstrating in front of Scientology secret underground headquarters in the California desert, called "GOLD." That is near the town of Hemet. Henson's wife said that he regarded Scientology as a crime syndicate.
The court regarded Henson's "interference with a religion" as a hate crime and a violation of California Penal Code, Section 422.6. Henson traveled to Canada, where he is currently residing.
Tom Cruise files for divorce
Does Nicole Kidman intend to deprive the Scientology Church of her adopted children?
New York, USA<
February 9, 2001
ddp/SAD New York - It's finally over between Tom Cruise (38) and Nicole Kidman (33). On Wednesday, two days after the dream couple from Hollywood announced their separation, Tom Cruise filed for divorce. That was reported by British BBC. As grounds for the shattered marriage Cruise listed irreconcilable differences. Besides that he wants custody of both of the adopted children, Isabella and Connor Anthony. Cruise and Kidman married in 1990.
Blow by blow it's coming out why they are really separating. It was not anything like an outside romance. It involved the Scientology sect, which both belong to. Nicole doesn't want the adoptive children, Isabella and Connor, to be raised in the teachings of sect founder L. Ron Hubbard. She wants them to be raised Catholic. "Nicole has let her friends know that she is not as convinced of Scientology as her husband is, and was with them only halfheartedly," reported Jeanette Walls, moderator of professional news broadcaster MSNBC. "The raising of the children in the sect's environment has become a point of contention in their marriage." [Note: these are non-literal quotes, i.e., translated from English to German back to English.]
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman going their separate ways
Dream pair broken up by careers
February 6, 2001
Hollywood has one dream couple less: after more than ten years of marriage US film stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman let it be known on Monday that they were separated. It was said that their careers are simply no longer compatible with life together, explained their PR agent Pat Kingsley in Los Angeles. Therefore, she said, it was for the best that both of them separate but still be friends.
But two years ago Kidman said in an interview that she absolutely could conceive of staying with Cruise forever: "I see myself as an old woman and him as an old man, and we are married." The actress is 33 years old, five years younger than Cruise.
The two stars became acquainted with each other in 1990 in filming the "Days of Thunder" [not sure of English movie titles]. They married shortly thereafter and adopted two children, Isabella and Connor. Cruise appeared successfully in movies like "Rain Main," "The Company," "Mission Impossible," "Jerry Maguire - Game of Life" and "Magnolia." Kidman played in "Batman Forever," "Malice," and "To Die For." They stood together for the camera in "In a distant Country" and last in "Eyes Wide Shut" by Stanley Kubrick.
The 38-year-old Cruise made appearances for a time as a celebrity supporter for the Scientology organization. For that reason, opponents of the group tried with little success to organize a boycott of his movie in Germany.
July 6, 2000
Neue Ruhr Zeitung
So Tom Cruise is still at it. Climbing, running, sailing down from dizzying heights at lightening speed, driving car and motorcycle like the devil and doing it the day long with an impish smile, he has not forgotten how to do any of that. One would almost forget that he was once capable of doing all that. At that time, four years ago, in the first nearly impossible Mission under the production of Brian De Palma. Cruise became a hero, a box office hit and a mega-star with the highest pay in the business and the most flattering choice of roles.
He used that for a project to which everyone paid due respects although nobody knew how it happened to him, but it sounded bad after an impossible fusion: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur Schnitzler and Tom Cruise. Then it was quiet as a church mouse for two years, so much so that his fame escaped him like a vacation tan in winter and even his membership in Scientology was forgotten. Then at the end of it all, after much ballyhoo and grief about Kubrick, "Eyes Wide Shut," a grandiose, honorable - flop.
So one cannot not accuse Tom Cruise of wanting to go back to the top. That is what he is advertising for. Surely the preview for "Mission: Impossible-2," "M:I-2" for short, was postponed for longer than usual. But one also has to see the product in action. Better, faster, bigger and stronger than ever. For this purpose Cruise, the provider of the product and producer of the film, sought out John Woo, conceivably the best choreographer for a martial background. Known as the duke of choreographers among action producers, he let Cruise hang agilely from cliffs, swing from ropes and deftly drive motorcycles like James Bond, effortlessly smiling the whole time.
These physical feats are loosely strung together with a simple story: a deadly virus, including the antidote, has fallen into the wrong hands and now must be put into the right hands. The hero is helped by Anthony Hopkins, whose charisma Cruise can build on, and by Thandie Newton, the sweetly and fragile girl who lays open the soft core in the hard man. Yes, ladies, Tom Cruise cries. But only to afterwards be able to proceed even more wildly determined against the villains, who, however, are being attacked more strongly by the film script.
But can one really be accused of putting his product in the possible light in a preview. Really no. But one just should not get "M:I-2" mixed up with a good film.
Tom Cruise makes headlines with "Eyes Wide Shut"
July 17/18, 1999
The real luxury is the risk.
by Claus Philipp
When this man gets a stomach ache, the upper management of the large U.S. film studios call for the highest level security alert.
Namely, as Tom Cruise woke up one night in 1998 with a terrible stomach ache, the announcement of his illness brought only risky discredit for the Cruise fans in the Eyes Wide Shut project which was already surrounded by wild rumors: "Stanley Kubrick made his star sick!" This kind of headline could have been a nightmare in view of the filming which had gone from 18 planned weeks to just about a year in duration. In the meantime Cruise and his wife, Nicole Kidman, passed up lucrative offers and engagements totalling to triple-digit millions.
The Tyrone Power of the present time will now see whether the risk has really paid off. He and Kidman have already written film scripts, if one may believe U.S. critics, with a nakedness unique among superstars. Now there is only the question of whether the erotic thriller "Eyes Wide Shut," inspired by an Arthur Schnitzler dream novel, will become an acknowledged work of art as the last masterpiece of the recently deceased Kubrick, as well as a summer hit in the theaters, with the help of his stars.
The chances of that are not bad: Cruise infiltrated his Sunny-Boy image as an atypical bloodsucker (in Interview with a Vampire) just as successfully as he burst into the top of the movie charts afterwards as producer and leading actor of the complex thriller, "Mission Impossible." "His genius is founded in good part in his diligence and his joy of experimentation," believe industry insiders: in contrast to many of his highly gifted colleagues, Cruise has never taken the obvious path to success. Great producers are more important to him as collaborators than fabric of the mainstream.
For the future it appears as thought the recently turn 37 year old can do nothing definitively wrong with this tactic: with John Woo he risked at the time letting Mission Impossible 2 turning into a ballistic ballet. With Steven Spielberg again he wants to film a sinister future vision by Philip K. Dick: "Working with such people is the only true luxury which my position in the film business allows," believes the declared Kubrick fan.
When criticism about his membership in Scientology comes up, that does not particularly bother him any more: even speculations about his presumed intentions with Kidman have been silenced - in part by mild complaints against the media. Three adopted children relate a different reality, believes Cruise, and "Eyes Wide Shut has brought us closer together." Despite stomach aches.
Jazz veteran Chick Corea turns 60
Unbridled desire to play continues
In Vienna on July 3
New York, USA
June 9, 2001
Tirol Online Kultur
New York (APA) - Music puts the American jazz pianist Chick Corea in such a trance that after a successful concert he often has his keyboard brought to his hotel room. Then he plays and composes the whole night through. Or he stays on the stage long after everybody else has gone home and enjoys playing a few Mozart concertos on the piano. On Tuesday (12 June) the jazz veteran turns 60.
The New York Times recently wrote, "Mr. Corea is a restless spirit similar to Duke Ellington. He has such a craving to compose and play new music that everything else comes in second." Corea is indeed at home with jazz, but he also gave duo-concerts with Friederich Gulda, who died last year - also a border-crosser, but from classical music. Corea's "Children's Songs" were reminiscent of the children's scenes from Schumann.
Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1941 as Armando Anthony Corea, Chick grew up listening to records from Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan. His father was also a jazz musician. Later he received piano lessons in classical music from Salvatore Sullo, a Boston concert pianist. At 18 the young Chick went to New York and was soon standing on the stage with greats like Blue Mitchell.
In the course of his 40 year career he then practiced with Miles Davis in Free Jazz, and played Bebop and alongside the idols of his childhood, Vaughan, Gillespie and Roy Haynes. Besides that he took a leading part in several of the most sensational Latino jazz recordings in the 1960s. Recently he has been practicing a new instrument, the marimba, experimenting with Hossam Ramzy, the Egyptian drummer, or writing music for his new sextet, Origin.
Corea can be seen on July 3rd in Austria at the Jazz Festival in the Vienna State Opera.
Elvis's daughter, Lisa Marie, wants to marry in Scientology
Her future husband, rock star John Oszajca, plans a "quick course" in the controversial sect
New York, New York
March 28, 2000
by Michael Remke
Lisa Marie next to rocker John Oszajca. Their marriage is planned for August. Photo: Bulls Press
SAD New York - Elvis Presley would probably turn over in his grave. His daughter Lisa Marie, who has been a Scientology adherent for years, appears to have finally given way completely to the controversial sect. As the American tabloid "Star" wrote in its latest edition, the 32-year-old now even wants to marry in the self-proclaimed church.
She obviously could not just convince him of Scientology's teachings. The renowned rocker will even subject himself to a "quick course."
According to the newspaper report, the marriage planned in August is supposed to occur in Clearwater, Florida, one of Scientology's headquarters in the USA besides Los Angeles. The locale has been making headlines in the past few years because of alleged abuse of apostate members by the sect. One woman, who had wanted to free herself from the clutches of the organization founded by Ron Hubbard but was re-captured, passed away in a mysterious manner after receiving "Scientology treatment." A court is currently reviewing whether charges will be filed against the sect.
Lisa Marie Presley, who also has been living in Clearwater for years and who is said to have made a million dollars for Scientology, seems not to be affected by such events. On the contrary. As the "Star" wrote, she hopes that her third marriage will last forever through the blessings of Scientology.
Elvis' daughter, who has two children, was previously married to musician Danny Keough and superstar Michael Jackson. It is said that Keough has been chosen to lead his ex-wife to her groom in their marriage.
The guest list, which is said to include 110 names, lacks that of Michael Jackson. A friend of Lisa Marie's said, "The two hate each other."
As a "source from Presley's most intimate circles" told the "Star," 25-year-old John Oszajca first had to be convinced of the idea. "But Lisa Marie is now enthused that he wants to accept the teachings of Scientology." He, reportedly, even said he was prepared to take a course (in Scientology that is called auditing and is described by critics as a kind of brainwashing) in order to prepare himself for the wedding. A Scientology disciple will then be at the pair's disposal 24 hours a day until the ceremony.
The sect has not yet made mention of Lisa Marie Presley's wedding plans. Even her mother, Priscilla, who is said to be thrilled with her future son-in-law, has been silent about plans. According to "Star," she is busy finding a suitable wedding dress for her daughter - one which nobody is supposed to see until the big day.