Paul Thomas Anderson’s allegorical Scientology exposé may have been done in by “budget concerns,” but another Hollywood Paul is reportedly stepping in to fill the void: Director Paul Haggis—a former Scientologist who famously renounced his membership last year via an angry, very public letter, taking Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis to task for implicitly endorsing Prop 8—is teaming with New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright for The Heretic Of Hollywood: Paul Haggis Vs. The Church Of Scientology, a book that will explore the roots of L. Ron Hubbard’s doctrine and its founder’s “flashes of brilliance and insanity” for “the most profound reckoning to date.” According to a synopsis, Heretic will detail Haggis’ personal investigation of Scientology, including “the wanton physical abuse on the part of its current leader, David Miscavige, of senior members of the organization,” and stories of how the “young volunteers in the Scientology clergy, called the Sea Org, are subjected to conditions approaching slavery or imprisonment, and that many female members have been forced to have abortions.” Oh, is that all?
It’s certainly not the first screed condemning Scientology —books like The Scandal Of Scientology by Paulette Cooper, The Complex by ex-Sea Org member John Duignan, and Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story Of L. Ron Hubbard by British journalist Russell Miller have offered plenty of dirt, to say nothing of devastating takedowns like this St. Petersburg Times profile—but it’s certainly the first by such a high-profile ex-member. The response to those previous authors’ work was expectedly harsh: Miller not only received numerous threats and accusations of libel, but claims that there were even attempts to frame him for murder. Duignan said that Scientology officials harassed his parents and believes that Tom Cruise was responsible for Amazon UK dropping his book from its catalog (something Cruise obviously denied). Perhaps most ominous of all is Cooper’s harrowing tale of being terrorized, which included her phones being tapped, visitations from assassins disguised as deliverymen, and a man whom she says befriended her specifically to spy on her and then drive her to suicide.
Of course, given that Haggis has such a visible presence, it should make things much more difficult for his former OT overlords to intimidate him, meaning the book could be, as Gawker terms it, “the Scientology exposé we’ve been waiting for.” Which is true: Not that anyone necessarily needs further evidence that Scientology is crazy, but the exposure this will surely receive should definitely get the organization all flustered, and possibly force it to contend with these charges on a more public stage than it ever has before. That doesn’t mean that Paul Haggis shouldn’t maybe give Randy Quaid a call.