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Posts Tagged ‘Scientology’

John Oliver on Banner Ads

There are many memorable sound bytes in John Oliver‘s 11-minute rant about native advertising from this weekend’s Last Week Tonight.

FishbowlNY particularly enjoyed Oliver’s take on the waning effectiveness of Web banner ads:

“One study found we only intentionally click on banner ads less than two-tenths of one percent of the time.”

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And Now for Something Completely Different: Eric Idle Tweets About Scientology

The posts at The Underground Bunker no longer come quite as fast and furiously as they once did, now that gatekeeper Tony Ortega has a day job. Still, when they do, they’re as fun and informative to read as ever.

Today, Ortega recaps a typically surreal Twitter trail. This one involved, earlier in the week, Monty Python member Eric Idle, a Scientologist, Kirstie Alley and more.

KirsteyAlleyReplytoIdle

From Ortega’s summary:

On Tuesday, as we noted earlier, Idle posted a tweet referring to a man named John Wood who has been recognized in the press as Python’s most dedicated fan. But he’s also one of the UK’s most ardent Scientologists, and after some help exposing Wood by Bunker reader Media Lush, Idle publicly distanced himself from Wood and his latest endeavor, a dating site…

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Actress Who Auditioned to Be Tom Cruise’s ‘Wife’ Speaks Publicly for the First Time

Here’s another PR nightmare for the Church of Scientology, to be denied in short order, no doubt. It comes courtesy of Australian magazine Woman’s Day, which published the scoop in print over the weekend and has allowed U.S. side media partner Tony Ortega to post online at his end. (Ortega’s item includes additional, separate material; he worked alongside Woman’s Day U.S. reporter Henry Meller on this latest sensational story.)

In the articles, Norwegian born actress Anette Iren Johansen picks up on that infamous October 2012 Vanity Fair feature by Maureen Orth. She says she was one of the other actresses “auditioned” by the Church in the mid-2000s to be Tom Cruise‘s next, post-Nicole Kidman girlfriend-wife:

Until that time [Copenhagen, January 2005], she had made some appearances in Scientology magazines and training films, and she assumed this was something similar. She noticed right away that there was something unusual about this project. There was a makeup team, for example, which she’d never seen before. She wanted to keep it light, but the woman in makeup told her it was important for this audition to be made up with eye shadow and glossy lips…

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Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes Send-Up Rolls into New York

It was a smash in Chicago. Now, August 20-24 at the Players Theatre as part of the New York International Fringe Festival, TheTomKat Project is set to wow fans in the very city where Katie Holmes pulled the plug on her marriage to Tom Cruise one year ago.

The play, featuring just a few odd props and the narration of writer Brandon Ogborn, skewers celebrity, the media and the Church of Scientology. There is no pretense at conventional celebrity impressions; lead actors Walt Delaney and Julie Dahlinger don’t much look like Cruise or Holmes. But that’s half the fun, with the support of a  versatile group of co-stars:

Based on actual interviews and completely imagined scenes, seven actors portray 54 characters including Oprah Winfrey, David Miscavige, Matt Lauer, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Hartnett, Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone, Cruise/Wagner partner Paula Wagner, Steven Spielberg, Nicole Kidman and Suri.

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Leah Remini Hits Church of Scientology with Missing-Person Report [Update]

Where is Shelly? This question is a rallying cry for many of those questioning the operational side of the Church of Scientology and was also at the causal center of actress Leah Remini‘s recent defection from the ranks.

Although Church spokespersons vehemently deny the wife of David Miscavige is “missing” in any way, shape or form, they are about to face a whole new level of public curiosity. From Tony Ortega‘s Underground Bunker:

After speaking with the Los Angeles Police Department, we have confirmed that on Wednesday Remini filed a missing-person report for Scientology leader David Miscavige’s wife, Shelly Miscavige, who has not been seen in public in six years.

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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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A Radio Call-In Interview for the Ages: Nicole Remini Sticks Up for Her ‘Brooklyn’ Younger Sister

Wow. We’ve watched, listened to and read a ton of media coverage over the years about the Church of Scientology. From our perspective, there’s no doubt an interview given this week to Minneapolis-St. Paul radio station myTalk 107.1 FM by Leah Remini‘s older sister Nicole belongs at the top of that crowded list.

For a whole bunch of different reasons, it’s very rare when a story like this breaks to hear from an immediate relative of the celebrity in the middle of it. Let alone this quickly.

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The Atlantic Posts Sponsored Article on Scientology, Then Pulls It [Update]

Last night The Atlantic posted a sponsored article on Scientology titled “David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year.” It was exactly what it sounds like — an celebratory ad for Scientology, complete with overwhelmingly positive comments from readers.

The article was also formatted exactly like any other Atlantic piece — save “sponsor content” written at the top — so people started questioning the ethics of it. And just as soon as people started criticizing the article, the Atlantic yanked the piece (here is a Google cache version of it).

As Poynter notes, Jay Lauf, publisher of The Atlantic, recently spoke in a positive way about sponsored content. “A lot of people worry about crossing editorial and advertising lines, but I think it respects readers more… It’s saying, ‘You know what you’re interested in.’ It’s more respectful of the reader that way.”

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Scientology Defector Paul Haggis Tells All in Upcoming Book

Hollywood’s favorite cult isn’t going to be happy about this. Scientology‘s most famous defector, Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Paul Haggis, is breaking his silence in an upcoming book. The Heretic of Hollywood: Paul Haggis vs. The Church of Scientology is being written by the well-respected Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright, and according to his agency is, “The most profound reckoning to date with this powerful and secretive organization.”

Haggis publicly renounced the Church of Scientology in 2009, after thirty five years as a member, but has stayed largely mum on the subject since. Not for much longer. The book will serve as both a chronicle of Haggis’ personal experiences and an in-depth investigation of the cult — including the human rights abuses of its members, which the authors allege includes violence, conditions approaching enslavement, and forced abortions.

Full description of the book from the Wylie Agency catalog after the jump.
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