The Church of Scientology may be mulling whether to cancel its HBO subscription. The pay cable network debuts the controversial new documentary "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" this Sunday (March 29) at 8pm. The film is contoversial-- well, because anything associated with Scientology is controversial. Rest assured, it does not paint a flattering portrait of the church, founder L. Ron Hubbard or current Scientology leader David Miscavige.
"Going Clear" is the latest film from Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney (or does that honor belong to Gibney's "Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine," which just premiered at SXSW? He's extraordinarily prolific). It's based on the book of the same title by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright, whose works include "The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" and the recently-published "Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David."
The documentary hews closely to Wright's book, although it does contain greater detail about the church's alleged attempts to sabotage the marriage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The church dismisses the film as a "bigoted propaganda piece." Church spokeswoman Karin Pouw wrote a lengthy rebuttal to "Going Clear," in response to a request for comment from The Hollywood Reporter.
I feel compelled to note that Gibney's movie contains an interview I booked for CNN in 2008 with Tommy Davis, former spokesman for the Church of Scientology (and son of actress and Scientologist Anne Archer). Among other things, Davis addressed the question of whether the church practices "disconnection," whereby church members are required to cut off all contact with anyone not in the good graces of Scientology (be it a spouse, parent, friend, anyone). Wright's book, and Gibney's film, says "disconnection" is indeed church policy. To see what Tommy Davis had to say on that topic, click on the YouTube link below (the full interview runs 9:36).
A selection of relevant Tweets about "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief":