"We have probably 160 lawyers": HBO readies documentary on Church of Scientology

Lawrence Wright's book "Going Clear" is being turned into a documentary for HBO

By Sarah Gray
November 25, 2014 3:39AM (UTC)
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The Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International is seen in Hollywood April 8, 2006. REUTERS/Phil McCarten (© Phil Mccarten / Reuters)

HBO is planning to release a documentary on the Church of Scientology, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright's controversial book "Going Clear." HBO collaborated with Oscar winner Alex Gibney on the film, and it will be released in 2015, according to the Hollywood Reporter -- and HBO is already preparing for pushback and a barrage of litigation. "And this time," Nevins told THR, "We'll be ready."

From the Hollywood Reporter:


"HBO long has championed documentary filmmaking. It commissioned the Scientology project nearly two years ago, right after the book's January 2013 publication, when frequent collaborator Gibney brought it to the network. The film, which is expected to feature new revelations about the controversial religion and its famous followers Tom Cruise and John Travolta, almost certainly will draw an aggressive response from the notoriously litigious church."

"'We have probably 160 lawyers [looking at the film],' says HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins, who is bracing for protests as well. If the doc is finished in time, it likely will be submitted to the Sundance Film Festival in January."

Wright's book, which was met with a strong rebuttal from the Church of Scientology and "threatening letters from lawyers," grew out of a profile on former Scientologist, director Paul Haggis, for the New Yorker.

h/t Gawker

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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Alex Gibney Documentary Hbo Lawrence Wright Religion Scientology Sheila Nevins