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Paul Haggis Talks Scientology to The New Yorker, ABC Videos Cruise

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood February 9, 2011 at 8:56AM

We've been waiting for Lawrence Wright's New Yorker Scientology expose ever since Canadian writer-director Paul Haggis (Crash) denied involvement in writing a tell-all book. That may not be necessary now that The New Yorker has published the 26-page story about the director and his many years spent in league with the religion. Lawrence has said: “I will expand on that material for the book. Both the article and the eventual book will explore the Haggis family’s experience inside the church and their decision to leave it. Haggis has been extremely helpful and candid, but he is certainly not a collaborator."
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Thompson on Hollywood

We've been waiting for Lawrence Wright's New Yorker Scientology expose ever since Canadian writer-director Paul Haggis (Crash) denied involvement in writing a tell-all book. That may not be necessary now that The New Yorker has published the 26-page story about the director and his many years spent in league with the religion. Lawrence has said:

“I will expand on that material for the book. Both the article and the eventual book will explore the Haggis family’s experience inside the church and their decision to leave it. Haggis has been extremely helpful and candid, but he is certainly not a collaborator."

The LAT answers the question--What will be the fallout--with three takeaways from the heavily vetted New Yorker piece:

1. Current church head David Miscavige has physically abused adherents.

2. The church engages in human trafficking and under-or-unpaid labor, primarily through its Sea Org program at its Gold Base facility in Southern California.

3. That the FBI is investigating the organization for alleged trafficking and child-labor violations

Of his attraction and involvement to the celeb-friendly religion, Haggis told Wright: "I was in a cult for 34 years,…Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't." It wasn't until August 2009 that he felt compelled to leave. He wrote a letter to the church, stating his disgust with their support of Prop 8:

“For ten months now I have been writing to ask you to make a public statement denouncing the actions of the Church of Scientology of San Diego…[The Church's] public sponsorship of Proposition 8, which succeeded in taking away the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens of California—rights that were granted them by the Supreme Court of our state—is a stain on the integrity of our organization and a stain on us personally. Our public association with that hate-filled legislation shames us…Silence is consent, Tommy [Davis, the Church's spokesperson]. I refuse to consent…I hereby resign my membership in the Church of Scientology."

Here is ABCNews's video on the issue, featuring a cackling Tom Cruise:
ABC News

This article is related to: Directors, Headliners, Hollywood, Stuck In Love, Politics, Media, Will Smith, John Travolta, Tom Cruise


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.