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."

German Scientology News