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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Haggis’

Paul Haggis Writes Open Letter to Leah Remini

The words of support appear in this week’s Hollywood Reporter magazine and comes via Europe, where Haggis has been working on a project for the past year and a half.

There are a number of interesting tidbits here, including a Church spokesman denying to THR that they recently registered the website domain whoisleahremini.com. Meanwhile, in his letter, Haggis states that Leah Remini was the only high-profile Church of Scientology member to remain in contact with him after he left the religion in 2009. She was also, he recalls, very friendly to him at a school function a few months after his exit.

Haggis argues that Remini deserves our full admiration for her courageous questioning of CoS higher-ups. The writer-director also shares an absolute howler of an anecdote:

When I was leaving [Scientology] and was visited by waves of angry friends and a phalange of top Scientology executives, trying to convince me to tear up my letter and resign quietly, I made a similar mistake by insisting they look into the charges of abuse detailed by the Tampa Bay Times. I was working on a film about Martin Luther King Jr. at that moment and made the polite suggestion that even great leaders like Dr. King were human and fallible.

Two of the senior church leaders leaped to their feet and shouted at me, “How dare you compare a great man like David Miscavige to Martin Luther King!” I ended the meeting at that point, thanking them for coming.

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Nicole Remini Fact-Checks the Chicago Sun-Times

First, there was Paul Haggis; then, no doubt, the fear that Katie Holmes would speak out if wrongly handled. One summer later, after the Cruise-Holmes divorce, the Church of Scientology’s media relations folks (and outside crisis PR firm) must now deal with the media pit stops of Leah Remini‘s feisty older sister Nicole.

It started, as we reported, with a Minneapolis-St.Paul FM radio station (Remini lives in the area). Today, it continues – and oh, how it continues – with The Underground Bunker’s Tony Ortega.

One detail that jumped out for us is Nicole’s allegation that a portion of Bill Zwecker‘s Sun-Times column is completely erroneous. Here’s what Zwecker wrote:

Since then I’ve learned the two actresses [Leah Remini, Kirstie Alley] have chatted and there is no loss of friendship.

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Paul Haggis Crashes Church of Scientology’s New Year

In the media this week, there’s something going on in reaction to the release of Lawrence Wright‘s book about Scientology that also occurred last year when Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorced, and separately when a Vanity Fair cover story outlined that whole business with Nazanin Boniadi.

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Our good friend Tony Ortega sums it up this way:

For those of us who watch Scientology closely, and have for many years, most of the [Lawrence Wright book-related] articles that have popped up in recent days seem to be gasping over things that have been known or written about for many years…

We would argue that for much of the public, the word [about Scientology] was already out long before today’s publication of Wright’s book. (Look at the reaction, for example, when on Monday The Atlantic magazine ran a paid church advertorial at its website extolling the virtues of Scientology leader David Miscavige. Even though there was nothing really wrong with The Atlantic taking the church’s money for an ad, the public denunciation of the magazine was so swift and loud, The Atlantic caved and took it down.)

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Latest Church of Scientology PR Crisis Heats Up

As we reported earlier this week, Paul Haggis’ comments about the shocking Vanity Fair October cover story involving Tom Cruise, the Church of Scientology and an alleged 2004 audition process was met with an almost equally disturbing response from the church. The CoS pointed to Googled proof of a prior Haggis “relationship” with the woman at the center of Maureen Orth’s article, Nazanin Boniadi (pictured).

Today, there is more of what will be much more as the Vanity Fair October issue begins to circulate. Over at Tony Ortega’s Village Voice CoS blog, Haggis has chimed in with a few more thoughts. He clarifies that although his emails to Showbiz 411 columnist Roger Friedman were taken as confirmation of the VF report, “Like everyone else, I have not even read their story.”

But Haggis stands firm on the central point of his reaching out. Vouching for Boniadi’s character:

“I am simply coming to the defense of a woman who has been publicly called a liar… Perhaps it’s just me, but I have never found Scientology’s blanket denials equally credible… It is my understanding that Naz is the subject of this article, not the source of it. Scientology has a long and well-documented history of attempting to bully its critics into silence. Here they are bullying a woman who has yet to even speak. I guess I just don’t like bullies.”

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Paul Haggis Corroborates Vanity Fair Scientology Cover Story*

Labor Day weekend is turning into another massive PR nightmare for Hollywood’s top-earning actor. One that not even his once formidable protector Pat Kingsley could have likely circumvented.

First came the Saturday online tease for Vanity Fair’s Maureen Orth October issue cover story “What Katie Didn’t Know.” The article details how Iranian-born actress Nazanin Boniadi was unwittingly auditioned in late 2004 by the Church of Scientology to be Tom Cruise’s girlfriend and slotted into that role for what turned out to be a tumultuous few months. CoS watcher Tony Ortega commented Sunday that Orth deserves extra credit for figuring out a way to expose this latest bit of sordid CoS history (officially denied by the church):

Boniadi has wanted to tell her story for years, we’d heard, but she’s bound by multiple non-disclosure agreements from doing so. We hear that Orth managed to do a classic “write-around,” putting together Boniadi’s story without help from Boniadi herself.

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Renegade Scientologist Turns Down the National Enquirer

Guy Adams, LA-based correspondent for UK’s The Independent, recently traveled to Texas to interview Marty Rathbun. The resulting article made it clear why this former high-ranking (and now self-proclaimed “independent”) Scientologist has become such a thorn in the side of the Church since publicly resurfacing in 2009:

His blog, Moving on Up a Little Higher, gets around 10,000 hits a day. It has been visited a total of six million times, is credited with encouraging scores of former Scientologists to quit, and has broken a string of sensational news stories about the Church, including film director Paul Haggis‘ resignation, in 2010, and January’s decision by Debbie Cook, a senior member of Church clergy, to quit in protest at what she called its “extreme” fundraising. Almost every former Scientologist I have spoken with checks it daily.

True to form, Rathbun has shared another dramatic post today. He reveals a recent email exchange with Belinda Robinson, a reporter for the National Enquirer, during which he was offered $20,000 to spill his Tom Cruise auditing-session secrets. Rathbun had zero interest in the payola journalism pitch, but he does use it as an opportunity to link to some older pieces and warn the actor:

As the recent email cycle between a National Enquirer “journalist” and myself clearly demonstrates, you have nothing to fear from me or the independent Scientologist community. As a matter of well-demonstrated fact, we have your back. As the referenced posts above clearly demonstrate you have every reason to continue to distance yourself from [David] Miscavige (any perceived “leadership” abilities notwithstanding) and corporate Scientology…

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Witness: 2010 John Edwards Statement Got a Hollywood Proofread

This is just bizarre. At the criminal trial of John Edwards today in Greensboro, North Carolina, his former speech writer Wendy Button testified that the politician ran his January 2010 admission of extramarital guilt through some surprising Tinseltown channels.

Per a report by WRAL-TV5, Button says the text of her boss’s eventual admission of fathering a child with Rielle Hunter was circulated as follows:

As the draft statement went through more than a dozen revisions, Button testified, Edwards sent copies to actor Sean Penn and actress Madeleine Stowe and to writer-director Paul Haggis… No reason was mentioned for circulating the draft.

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Mark Lisanti Bypasses Predictable Oscar Buzz, Live-Blogs Previous Winner Instead

Ha ha. Former Defamer and Yahoo! movie blogs overseer Mark Lisanti has got a typically subversive take on Sunday’s 84th Academy Awards, at his new Grantland home. In light of the fact that this year’s ceremony “is throwing off roughly as much heat as an ice-fishing Yeti snacking on a Creamsicle,” he chose – instead of some last-minute buzz-o-meter readings – to cue up and live-blog the upset winner for Best Picture of 2005.

Here for example is the second entry in his retro, Crash Angeles extravaganza, which assesses the kinder-gentler aura now given off by the opening credits:

1:12 — “A Film by Paul Haggis.” There was a time, namely a good four years after seeing this movie, when those words would instill fear/dread/rage, but now that’s gone. He did the good James Bond! He’s fighting Scientology! He was on Entourage! Pretty big turnaround there. (Well, not the Entourage thing.) I’m kind of into him now.

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Paul Haggis Still Unclear About Possible Scientology Split Fallout

Proud Canadian Paul Haggis returned to his native Ontario this week to teach a master class at Norman Jewison‘s Canadian Film Center. As the newly named chairman of the institute’s film programs, Haggis will be following up his Monday November 7 session with at least one similar event every year.

Haggis, who is now based in New York, fielded a number of questions from the Canadian media about his recent very public split from the Church of Scientology. Specifically, reporters for wire service The Canadian Press and others wondered if his most recent rebuke of the Cruise-Travolta altar had caused any Hollywood fallout. Answered Haggis:

“It’s impossible to tell, isn’t it?” he said. “Everything is a struggle in this business so getting your film financed, getting the next project going is always a struggle. No one’s going to ride up and say, ‘Listen I didn’t like what you wrote, or I didn’t like what you said and therefore I’m not going to do blankity blank.’ But I’m not worried. There’s a lot of people who have spoken out about different things in this world and they do just fine.”

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Fashion Photog Could Be Staring at Second Straight Hollywood Remake

Remember the 2010 Paul Haggis-Russell Crowe collaboration The Next Three Days? Turns out it was a remake of a much better reviewed 2008 French film, Pour Elle.

Now, Gallic director Fred Cavayé (pictured), a fashion photographer who embraced the movie end of the lens when he hit 40, says Hollywood is sniffing around his sophomore effort Point Blank. The $13 million thriller, which features manic Paris-shot chase scenes, opens Friday in LA. He tells LA Times writer Susan King that he took the failure of the English language version of his debut with a grain of “sel”:

“It was very flattering that my first film, which I wrote in my little apartment in Paris and two years later the man who is Clint Eastwood‘s scriptwriter is writing it and Crowe is starring in it,” said Cavayé. “I think the success of films is a very fragile thing. Every week you have very good films that come out that don’t really have much success at the box office. Then you have middling and not-so-good films that are enormously successful. It all depends on what viewers want to see.”

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