Since Scientologists are so famously cagey, leave it to a big-mouthed Jew from New York to produce a major motion picture about Scientology. I’m speaking of Harvey Weinstein, of course, who last month in Cannes picked up the rights to an as yet untitled project helmed by “Magnolia” director Paul Thomas Anderson. The film, which begins shooting next month is about an L. Ron Hubbard-inspired character who after completing Navy service, starts a religion. The film will star Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams.
At least in Hollywood, Jews and Scientologists seem to like each other. Just last month, some of the industry’s biggest names—Jerry Bruckheimer, Les Moonves, J.J. Abrams, to name a few—gathered to honor Scientology spokesman Tom Cruise with a Simon Wiesenthal Center humanitarian award. Despite the surrounding controversy, no one who attended seemed to mind sleeping with strange bedfellows. Tom Cruise even talked some Torah.
If it seems odd that Weinstein would put his stamp on a movie about another religion, remember how well Quentin Tarantino fared with “Inglourious Basterds.” Sometimes it takes a critical distance to tell a story the way it needs to be told. Paul Thomas Anderson, the auteur filmmaker who will likely determine much of the film’s content, has said that he is interested in “why people turn to religion in times of trouble,” according to a reference on Wikipedia. Well, what else should you do when the sky starts raining frogs? Have a cup of tea?