We noted last week how insane was the attack by Scientology’s propaganda organ, Freedom magazine, in its parody of issue of The New Yorker and writer Lawrence Wright. We also pointed out how, in a related video, Scientology’s slander-mongers took their best shot at director Paul Haggis, subject of Wright’s epic 24,000-word article, which described Haggis’s disaffection with Scientology and his high-profile defection in 2009.
Earlier this evening, screenwriter Skip Press offered his own thoughts about Haggis’s career and the stupidity of Scientology’s attack. It’s a fascinating read, and contains several key nuggets of pure gold.
Press describes how he and Haggis, in the late 1970s, were part of a Scientology writers’ group. Press says he watched as his talented friend paid his dues, writing for shows like Welcome Back, Kotter and The Facts of Life — a path Press himself was wary of.
But eventually, Haggis’s hard work in the trenches paid off as he began to write award-winning movies like Million-Dollar Baby and Crash.
“It was astonishing – the aspiring screenwriter I’d once been asked to help was completely at the top of the game,” Press writes.
By then, Press himself was out of Scientology, and he admits that while he was thrilled for the success of his old friend, he was also concerned that Scientology would try to make hay from Haggis’s success.
I knew Scientology would use his Oscar win to tout the glories of Hubbard thought. The only other person who had ever won an Oscar while in Scientology was Bert Salzman for the short Angel and Big Joe in 1975.
But he points out that Scientology never got that chance — just as Haggis was winning his big awards, he was becoming disillusioned with Scientology.
And, when Haggis spilled his guts to Wright for the New Yorker article, Press says he knew what would happen: Scientology would go on the attack…
I would have been amazed that they tried to denigrate his Best Picture Oscar win, or his amazing track record in Hollywood, even the fact that he’s been spending a lot of time and money building a hospital in Haiti lately but then, I know Scientology all too well — they’re capable of any lunacy.
What Scientology didn’t point out, Press says, was Haggis’s long track record of humanitarianism, including his contributions to help build a hospital and cholera clinic in Haiti and a free high school there. Instead, the Freedom attack included making it sound like some critical whining over Haggis’s Crash Best Picture somehow invalidated everything the writer and director has ever done.
As Scientology did its best to degrade Haggis’ career, citing the disappointing box office of his latest movie, they failed to note how the rest of the world views Paul Haggis. For example, he’s to receive the Golden Eye Award, a lifetime achievement honor, from the Zurich Film Festival, which will also present a retrospective of Haggis’ career as a director and screenwriter, screening several of his films.
Press’s article has many more details about his background with Haggis, and it’s a fine read. Please go look at the entire article.
Last week, as the inane horror of the Freedom propaganda was being digested by various media outlets, we noticed quite a few ‘net pundits predicting that Scientology had made a huge mistake denigrating a director of Haggis’s stature with its slimy attacks — and that Hollywood, which has for so long put up with Scientology and its celebrities, might finally begin to reconsider its relationship with such a vindictive organization. Press’s broadside might be a first salvo in that battle.
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church’s HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church’s other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord
See all of our recent Scientology coverage at the Voice
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin’ Scared
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he’s been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard’s organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga — Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story — How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection — A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Robert Cipriano Case — A Hellacious Example of Fair Game
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum — The ‘Crash’ Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape — ‘Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle’
The Aaron Saxton Accusation — Australia turns up the heat on Scientology
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation — Scientology’s former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross — Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
A Church Myth Debunked — Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back — Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack — The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
A Scientologist Excommunicated — The Michael Fairman SP Declaration
The Richard Leiby Operation — Investigating a reporter’s divorce to shut him up
The Hugh Urban Investigation — An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology’s past
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh — A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link
Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology — A masterful telling of Scientology’s history
The Western Spy Network Revealed? — Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige
Scientology’s Enemies List — Are You On It?
Inside Inside Scientology — An interview with author Janet Reitman
Scientology and the Nation of Islam — Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman!
Scientologists — How Many of Them Are There, Anyway?
Roger Weller’s Wild Ride — Scientology When it was Hip
The Marc Headley Infiltration — A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed
Placido Domingo Jr: Scientology’s Retaliation is “Scary and Pathetic”
An Interview with Nancy Many, Former Scientology Spy
The Paulien Lombard Confession — A Scientology Spy Comes Clean
The Deputy Benjamin Ring Hard Sell — Scientology wants your 401K
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology — the whole series!
The Squirrel Busters Busted — Unmasking the Scientology PI in Charge
Tommy Davis, Scientology spokesman, secretly recorded discussing ‘disconnection’
Scientology internal document says its Office of Special Affairs will ‘handle’ the Village Voice