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Posts Tagged ‘Tony Ortega’

Birthday Boy Tom Cruise Doing Better Than Newsweek

ShutterstockTomCruiseNMUnintentionally, D.B. Hebbard over at Talking New Media may wind up with today’s most original Tom Cruise born-on-the-third-of-July reference. Leading off a piece about Newsweek, the journalist writes:

The newsweekly is like Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire, it may still be alive, but it is not looking very good. At least that is what users of the digital edition are telling the publisher.

Well done. But what of the more conventional coverage today of an A-lister who belies the fact that he is on the Edge of Early Bird Specials?

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Twenty-Seven Years Later, L. Ron Hubbard Biography Finally Gets a U.S. Release

BareFacedMessiahIt’s great to see the byline of Tony Ortega in the New York Post. The founder of The Underground Bunker and executive editor of The Raw Story lays out the rich details framing the very belated arrival in the U.S. of Bare-Faced Messiah, a 1987 biography by British journalist Russell Miller of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The Church successfully derailed U.S. publication with two years of litigation. However, thanks to independent publisher Silvertail Books, Bare-Faced Messiah was finally released stateside on March 18.

A portion of the book covers the same territory as Paul Thomas Anderson‘s acclaimed drama The Master. Amazingly, Miller says he was never consulted for the project:

I spoke to Miller recently and asked him if Anderson had ever reached out to him, since it seemed obvious that his book had been mined for that material. “I didn’t know about this until the bloody film was out. Had I known this was in the pipeline, I would have got my agent to ask to see the script.”

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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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Former Village Voice EIC Tony Ortega Joins Raw Story

TonyOrtegaHeadshotThe Raw Story publisher Roxanne Cooper has shared some major news this morning. Former Village Voice editor-in-chief Tony Ortega, who has been focused since leaving the alt-weekly on his blog The Underground Bunker and a related book project about the Church of Scientology, has joined the site as executive editor.

From Cooper’s announcement:

Ortega will take the reins of Raw Story next week, where he plans to bring more reporting to a website that is experiencing record growth. “Raw is really tearing up its competition, and I’m fortunate to be asked to help it get to the next level with an increased emphasis on original stories,” Ortega said.

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Leah Remini Aims Another Dart at the Church of Scientology

ShutterstockLeahReminiLeah Remini‘s LAPD missing-person report may have been quickly dissipated. But the former Scientologist and current Dancing with the Stars contestant still has a lot of fight left in her.

Per some eagle-eyed monitoring of the Comal County, Texas District Court docket by blogger Tony Ortega, Remini has agreed to provide a deposition later this month in connection with a harassment lawsuit brought against the Church and leader David Miscavige by Monique Rathbun. The deposition is scheduled to be taken October 15 in Los Angeles. From Ortega’s post:

While watching the docket in Monique’s lawsuit, we noticed today a reference to a transaction fee for a subpoena that listed Remini’s name. We then called [her attorney Ray] Jeffrey, who confirmed that he had talked to the actress and that she had agreed to give the deposition — which is happening one day after Jeffrey is scheduled to depose former Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis in Austin.

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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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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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