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All Scientologists Look Alike, Right? -- And More in our Weekly Stats Roundup!

Is that a famous Scientologist we spy?
Is that a famous Scientologist we spy?

Every Thursday at 2 pm, Scientology staff members race to turn in their weekly statistics. We like to do the same by rounding up the week's Scientology news from around the world and weigh how the church is doing.

We're going to start this week with a nice journalistic screwup by X17online.com, a gossipy website that just loves to capture celebrities for candid photos.

And yesterday, they got a big scoop! Tom Cruise on a super-dope motorcycle zipping around Beverly Hills!

Er, um, sorry guys. Wrong dude. After the jump, we show you how X17online fucked up.

Here's an image from X17online.com's big story yesterday:

All Scientologists Look Alike, Right? -- And More in our Weekly Stats Roundup!

Look, they even have a close-up of Tom Cruise's face -- it's got to be him!

Well, the guy on the bike is, indeed, a Scientologist -- or at least he was. But truth be told, Tiziano Lugli, a musician from Italy, has been on the outs from the church for a while. (He was declared a suppressive person two years ago.)

He tells us that he was the one zipping around on his Ducati 1098 near Scientology's Hollywood Celebrity Centre ("I like to have the security guards there freak," he says) when he noticed a cameraman.

"I looked around and saw the guy photographing me."

His photo was snapped Tuesday afternoon and showed up on the website yesterday.

Tiziano sent over this photo of himself on the bike. As you can see, he is not, in fact, Tom Cruise...

All Scientologists Look Alike, Right? -- And More in our Weekly Stats Roundup!

Well, it should be fun to see if X17online now owns up to its mistake!

Thursday's Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Let's give the church a little upstat on this one. After all, it did get a little free publicity of Mr. Scientology seemingly zipping around on a bitchin' bike through LA, even if it turned out to be in error. And the church needs a little upstat considering our next item...


Story #2: Debbie Does Damage*

This week, the Scientology world was almost all about Debbie Cook, wherever you looked. Stories about her showed up all over the place -- European newspapers in particular were fascinated with her rebellious e-mail. And we want to thank Huffington Post for the shout-out in the video you see here. And just a few weeks after we exposed a HuffPo blogger as a shill for Scientology!

Ooh, here's another one...

That's "miss-CAV-idj," dear.

Thursday's Stats: Upstat or Downstat? This one is off the charts. It's such a downstat, we really won't know for weeks or months just how much it has hurt Scientology. Keep an eye on Marty Rathbun's blog, because I have a feeling that starting in a few weeks we're going to see a larger than average number of old time church members declaring their independence from Miscavige's fundraising insanity.

Our own stories about Debbie Cook... Sunday: We break the news about her rebellious e-mail. Tuesday: Jason Beghe explains why her e-mail is having such a devastating effect. Wednesday: Debbie Cook's transformation from enforcer to whistleblower.

*I blatantly stole the headline for this item from one of our brilliant commenters.


Story #3: My Old Philly Home

Philadelphia Daily News reporter Jason Nark chose an interesting angle for a story this week: he looked into Scientology leader David Miscavige's South Jersey roots, talking to old neighbors who remembered the Miscavige family.

We learned that young Davey was an asthmatic kid remembered apparently by no one he went to high school with (he dropped out), and what drew him to Scientology was a search by his father for a cure to Davey's wheezing.

This quote from his niece, Jenna Miscavige Hill, is a classic:

"I feel that there is a good possibility that the Miscavige family would be better off if my grandpa had not found Dianetics," she told Nark.

Thursday's Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Nark did an excellent job, in particular with the way he handled a 1985 sex crime charge against Miscavige's father, Ronnie Sr. (it amounted not to a whole lot, essentially). If the purpose here was to give us a better understanding of David Miscavige by examining his background, it succeeded. But despite some criticism of the church leader (which we've heard before), this wasn't really a big upstat or downstat for the church itself -- a sign that it was a balanced piece by a skillful journalist.

Overall, this first week of 2012 has been a major problem for the church, and we are starting to hear about some repercussions of the Debbie Cook e-mail which should yield even more stories a few weeks from now. (Can't say more just yet, but check back often!)


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

[All recent stories] | [What is Scientology?] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology] [Commenters of the Week] | [Thursday 2pm Stats!] | [Scientology vs. South Park] [This Week Aboard the Apollo] | [Sunday Funnies]

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"] [Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology] [Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?] [Scientology hates clean ice: The "Fair Game" operation that should turn your stomach] [Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon] [Paulette Cooper, Scientology's original and worst nightmare: a Thanksgiving tribute]

THE TOP 25 PEOPLE CRIPPLING SCIENTOLOGY

1. L. Ron Hubbard | 2. David Miscavige | 3. Marty Rathbun | 4. Tom Cruise | 5. Joe Childs and Tom Tobin | 6. Anonymous | 7. Mark Bunker | 8. Mike Rinder | 9. Jason Beghe | 10. Lisa McPherson | 11. Nick Xenophon | 12. Tommy Davis | 13. Janet Reitman | 14. Tory Christman | 15. Andreas Heldal-Lund | 16. Marc and Claire Headley | 17. Jefferson Hawkins | 18. Amy Scobee | 19. The Squirrel Busters | 20. Trey Parker and Matt Stone | 21. Kendrick Moxon | 22. Jamie DeWolf | 23. Ken Dandar | 24. Dave Touretzky | 25. Xenu

HELD ABOARD THE FREEWINDS: TALES OF THE SEA ORG

[Valeska Paris, held against her will from 1996 to 2007 on Scientology's cruise ship] [Ramana Dienes-Browning, marriage at 16, sexual interrogation, life in the engine room] [Melissa Paris, Valeska's sister: forced to marry at 16]

SCIENTOLOGY VS. SOUTH PARK: INVESTIGATION AS RETALIATION

[Scientology targeted South Park's Parker and Stone in an investigation] [More documents in the South Park probe: instructions to send in a young mole] [Scientology responds in typical fashion] | [Lloyd Kaufman confirms the probe] [Mark Ebner also investigated after South Park involvement] [Mark Chauppetta, private eye, explains what Scientology operatives look for]

MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS

[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties] In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview] The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]

SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"

[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley] [Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?] Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2] [A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession] [Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine] [Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice] [Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: "No one's going to take my eternity away"]

SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES

[Hey, Scientology Celebrity, Here's Your Media Training Checksheet!] [Tom Cruise and X Factor's Stacy Francis singing together on the Freewinds] [X Factor's Stacy Francis: Her first husband, Michael Sandlofer, answers abuse claims] [Tom Cruise and Baby Suri embarrassed by news item, so someone must pay] ["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise] [Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church] [Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice] [Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense] [Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis] [Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"] Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo] [Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips "the business that is Scientology"]

JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY

[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid] [Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post] [A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]

HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY

[A review of Urban's scholarly history of the church] | [An interview with Hugh Urban]

EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT

["The Money Machine": another blockbuster St. Pete Times investigation] [Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview] [Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams] [86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]

OVERSEAS NEWS

[Scientology in Israel: Arson, attempted murder, paranoia -- and a visit by the Voice!] [Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested] [All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots] [Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"] [Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails] [Australian farmer blamed for giving Tom Cruise a bad shrimp, loses her friends, family]

ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS

[Scientology chillin' with hip hop!] | [The curious career of Scientology rapper Chill EB] [Chill EB and me: the Voice interviews Scientology's in-house rapper] [Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"] [Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!] [Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam] [When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers] [Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.] [Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]

THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE

[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth] [Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family] [Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle] [Desperate Scientology fundraising caught on video]


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