Title: Travolta begs Channel 4 not to attack Scientology
Author: Sister Clara
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 1997 11:34:30 +0000
Independent on Sunday - 9th November 1997
Travolta begs Channel 4 not to attack Scientology
By Chris Blackhurst
JOHN Travolta, the actor, has written to Michael Jackson, Channel 4's
controller, imploring him not to allow the showing of a documentary on the
life of L Ron Hubbard, founder of the controversial Churcch of Scientology.
A committed Scientologist, Mr Travolta accuses Mr Jackson and Alan Hayling,
the programme's commissioning editor, of being prepared to slander him and
all the members of the church. He claims they seem intent on inciting hatred
of the sect, as had been happening in Germany, where the authorities are
suppressing its activities. The actor mysteriously asks whether the
persecution of Scientologists willl stop only when someone like himself
becomes a victim.
The star of Saturday Fight Fever and Pulp Fiction implores the television
executives to let true friends of Mr Hubbard, who died in 1986, to be
interviewed for the Secret Lives edition scheduled for 19 November. The
programme, which has been completed, pulls apart the Hubbard legend, accusing
him of being a fraud. Several of those interviewed were among his inner
The sect has reacted with fury to the programme and has fought hard to have
it cancelled. Channel 4 has been bombarded with letters and phone calls from
members around the world. Senior sect officials hhave twice had to be asked
to leave the channel's London headquarters after turning up and demanding to
meet Mr Jackson.
The crew from the independent company making the programme were followed
across America and have been visited by private detectives acting for the
church at their homes in England. They even visited thee stables where the
director, Jill Robinson, keeps her horse. She found the visit threatening. "I
was not there at the time and I cannot see what they were trying to do except
make it clear to me that tthey knew where I kept my horse," she said. "I
regard it as intimidating."
In the past few days, the campaign against the programme has taken on a
surreal aspect, with a camera crew from "Freedom Films", thought to be a
Scientology production unit, arriving unannounced and fillming the programme
makers at their homes.
Mr Hayling said there was no question of the programme being changed or
stopped. It was based on factual material and interviews with people who had
known Mr Hubbard well. When first asked to co-operatee, the church had not
responded. Only later did it offer access, but on condition that it had
editorial control. Mr Hayling described as "deplorable" the visiting of
members of the film crew at their hoomes.
The Church of Scientology said it was "absolutely untrue" that it had
initially refused to co-operate. The private detectives were justified, a
spokesman said, because the organisation was making its owwn inquiry into
whether those involved in the making of the programme were linked to people
in America who had been trying to extort cash from it.
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