Copyright 1997 The Time Inc. Magazine Company

February 10, 1997



The names adorning the full-page letter in the
International Herald Tribune guaranteed attention: Dustin
Hoffman, Goldie Hawn, Larry King, Gore Vidal. Others, like
Michael Marcus, Terry Semel, Sherry Lansing, Casey Silver and
John Calley, may be less familiar, but in Hollywood they are
just as famous and considerably more powerful as top
executives at five of the major studios--MGM, Warner,
Paramount, Universal and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

None are adherents of Scientology. Many are Jewish,
provoking lots of buzz over why they endorsed a high-decibel
comparison with the Holocaust. Marcus and others say they
oppose any religious persecution. Several say they signed out
of respect for the letter's author, entertainment attorney
Bertram Fields, whose client list happens to include
Scientology's most prominent celebrities, Tom Cruise and John

Fields says he was aroused when some members of Germany's
Christian Democratic Union Party called for a boycott of
Cruise's Mission: Impossible. The boycott failed, but it
prompted Fields to write and pay for the $ 56,700 ad. He
insists he was not retained by any Scientology organization
and never discussed the ad with anyone affiliated with
Scientology. Both Cruise and Travolta, he says, have since
thanked him for his initiative.

All the executives involved are in business with one or the
other of the two stars. Sony is profiting from Cruise's Jerry
Maguire. Universal has signed Travolta for Primary Colors.
Paramount released Cruise's Mission: Impossible. MGM
distributed the Travolta hit Get Shorty. Warner has a project
with Cruise and his wife Nicole Kidman.

One studio boss acknowledges being "mindful" of a desire to
do a film with Travolta when Fields' request crossed his desk.
"When I get a letter from Bert Fields, right or wrong, I give
it more credence," he says. "Should I have spent more time on
it? Maybe. But if there is persecution in the world, isn't
that a bad thing?" Several others maintain they signed to pose
the same question. "If you asked me, do I know a great deal
about Scientology, I do not," acknowledges former MCA
president Sid Sheinberg. "But I don't think I have a burden to
know." His concern is governmental persecution of any
religious group, particularly in Germany. "The world should be
cautious looking at anything that goes on there, given their
rather blemished past," he says.

An executive who declined to participate is Joe Roth,
chairman of the Disney studios, which did well with the
Travolta film Phenomenon. "Bert made it less about [
Scientology] and more about connecting to feelings about the
Holocaust," says Roth. "Either that, or they're all whores for
Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and they wanted to be on the
right list."

--By Kim Masters/Los Angeles

GRAPHIC: COLOR PHOTO, [Letter in International Herald Tribune


LOAD-DATE: February 3, 1997

[ this last paragraph makes it look like Mickey Mouse is on the side of

the Critics of $cientology ]