After his seven year absence from the acting game, many assumed that Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson had officially retired from movies. But turns out the Academy Award winner isn’t done yet as he’s gearing up to return in an English-language remake of comedy Toni Erdmann, opposite Ghostbusters’ Kristen Wiig.
HBO’s investigation into the Church of Scientology has been racking up so many views since it debuted just two weeks ago that it’s likely to trail only the 2013 movie Beyonce as the network’s most-watched documentary of the past decade, the Associated Press reported.
To date, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief has been seen by over 5.5 million people, with Beyonce having been viewed by over 9 million people. Before the film premiered,
The Church of Scientology ran a full-page ad in The New York Times denouncing the film, even pointing out its similarity to the since-retracted story in Rolling Stone regarding an alleged rape at the University of Virginia.
“I didn’t think we expected this kind of noise and this kind of energy, but we’ll take it,” Sheila Nevins, the chief of HBO’s documentary unit told the AP. “I didn’t think it would be this controversial.”
Nevins said she’s already worrying about what HBO can do next to continue their current success.
“How do you match people taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times and it’s not your obituary?,” she said. “The real problem for anxiety-prone people like me is what comes next.”
Buzz has surrounded HBO’s new documentary “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” but Scientologist John Travolta is not a fan.
Travolta told the Tampa Bay Times that he has not seen the documentary, “and I don’t really care to.”
“I’ve been so happy with my (Scientology) experience in the last 40 years that I really don’t have anything to say that would shed light on (a documentary) so decidedly negative,” Travolta said.
The actor, one of the Church of Scientology’s most high-profile members along with stars like Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley, is premiering his new film, “The Forger,” in Clearwater, Florida.
The HBO documentary is based on the book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright and is critical of the organization, which has close ties to the showbiz industry.
Travolta said he believed the doc was a result of “people who were disgruntled with their experiences” with the Church of Scientology, which he touted as a positive experience for him.
“I haven’t experienced anything that the hearsay has (claimed), so why would I communicate something that wasn’t true for me?” Travolta asked. “It wouldn’t make sense, nor would it for Tom (Cruise), I imagine.”
He called Scientology “brilliant” and credited the church with helping him to survive the death of his teen son, Jett, after a seizure while the family was on vacation in the Bahamas in 2009.
“Oh, my God, I wouldn’t have made it,” said Travolta, whose wife, Kelly Preston, is also a member. “Honestly.”
James Horner, the Hollywood composer who wrote the score for the Oscar-winning film hit Titanic, has died in a California plane crash aged 61.
A trained pilot, he is reported to have been alone aboard a small private plane which crashed north of Santa Barbara on Monday morning.
The two-time Oscar winner worked on three James Cameron films, as well as A Beautiful Mind, Troy and Apollo 13.
He won one Oscar for the Titanic film score and another for its theme song.
The musican shared his second Oscar with lyricist Will Jennings for best original song, My Heart Will Go On, sung by Celine Dion.
Horner was nominated for a further eight Oscars, for scores and songs for the films Avatar, House of Sand and Fog, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Braveheart, Field of Dreams, An American Tail and Aliens.
The plane crash left an impact crater and sparked a brush fire that had to be put out by firefighters, local fire authorities said.
Horner’s personal assistant, Sylvia Patrycja, wrote on Facebook on Monday:
“We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart, and unbelievable talent. He died doing what he loved. Thank you for all your support and love and see you down the road.”
Actor and director Ron Howard tweeted:
“Brilliant Composer James Horner, friend & collaborator on 7 movies has tragically died in a plane crash. My heart aches for his loved ones.”
Russell Crowe, who starred in Howard’s Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind, added:
“My sincere condolences to the family, loved ones and friends of James Horner.”
American composer Steve Jablonsky, writer of the music for the Transformers movie series, tweeted about the influence the composer had on him, saying:
“James Horner, thank you for inspiring a young me to pursue a career in film music. Thank you for your music. Rest in peace.”
The Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb added:
“Last time I spoke to JH he was scoring for a kid at AFI. 2 Oscars and he agreed to score a student film! What generosity. #RIPJamesHorner.”
When L. Ron Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology in February 1954 in Los Angeles, one of his main pillars in building its membership was courting celebrities.
A year after the church was founded, it created a long list of celebrities to recruit, according to Lawrence Wright’s best-selling book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & The Prison of Belief.”
The list reportedly included Hollywood royalty like Marlene Dietrich, Walt Disney, Jackie Gleason, John Ford, Bob Hope, and Howard Hughes. It’s hard to find evidence of these legends ever entertaining the idea of joining the church, but it appears that Hubbard saw movie stars as a way of legitimizing Scientology.
Six decades later, Hubbard’s premonition proved to be correct. Scientology, which today has only about 50,000 members, is worth over $1.2 billion, and much of its financial success is in part thanks to famous people who have fundraised, recruited, and given the church access to the upper echelon of society.
For years, two of the church’s most prized endorsers have been John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
But director Alex Gibney suggests in his latest documentary for HBO, an adaptation of Wright’s book called “Going Clear,” that it is time for Travolta and Cruise to reassess their involvement with the church, in part because of the abuse their fellow members have allegedly endured.
The film highlights numerous instances in which church members have allegedly been abused. Members have allegedly been segregated from their families and the rest of the church to do physical labor like cleaning toilets with only a toothbrush.
In the documentary, Gibney speaks with one of Travolta’s closest confidants at the church, Spanky Taylor, who says she was part of a group that was punished by the church.
Taylor says she was forced to work 30-hour shifts with little food and slept on the roof of the church’s Los Angeles building. She says she was pregnant at the time and away from her infant daughter, who was placed in the church’s nursery in a urine-soaked crib surrounded by fruit flies. In the movie, Taylor says she reached out to Travolta for help but never heard from him.
According to the film, Cruise has also turned a blind eye to the harassment suffered by Sea Organization members, the clergy of Scientology who reportedly show their loyalty by signing billion-year contracts but get paid only about 40 cents an hour for their services. The film alleges that the presents Cruise receives on behalf of the church — like a beautiful airplane hangar or luxury limousine — are delivered on the sweat of Sea Org members.
So why are Cruise and Travolta still in Scientology?
The film alleges that the church would disclose the celebrities’ deepest, darkest confessions to the tabloids if they ever tried to leave the church.
That’s because the pair have reportedly spent hours and hours of their lives submitting to Scientology audits, the church’s form of spiritual counseling.
When Business Insider talked to Gibney last week at HBO’s New York offices, the director said he felt it was the duty of Cruise and Travolta to speak out, and he hoped the attention of “Going Clear” would make it easier for them to do so.
“I think one of the reasons we’re trying to turn the spotlight on them is not to victimize them but to say you really have a responsibility,” Gibney told us. “You’re given an enormous amount of wealth as a movie star and with that comes a certain amount of responsibility, particularly when people are joining an organization because of you. If the popular opinion begins to swing that way, I think you can see a sea change with them.”
For Cruise it may be harder to get out. The film reveals just how important he is to the church, suggesting Scientology went as far as breaking up Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s marriage to bring him closer to the church after he began distancing himself around the time he and Kidman filmed Stanley Kubrick’s final film, “Eye’s Wide Shut,” in 1998.
Orchestrated by Scientology’s leader, David Miscavige, the church turned the two adoptive children of Cruise and Kidman’s against Kidman,according to former Scientology executives who speak in the film.
The church allegedly told the children that Kidman was a “Suppressive Person,” Scientology talk for someone who’s not a believer of the church, and persuaded them to completely disconnect themselves from her.
The church also allegedly tapped Kidman’s phones in an effort to convince Cruise that he needed to end the relationship.
Gibney and Wright, along with former Scientology members Mike Rinder and Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis, talked more about these issues in the film recently at a New York Times “Times Talk.”
“Going Clear” opens theatrically in limited release March 13 and on HBO on March 29.
“Going Clear,” HBO’s explosive new documentary on Scientology, just premiered on Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival, but it’s already causing a lot of controversy.
The film, directed by Alex Gibney based on Lawrence Wright’s best selling book of the same name, alleges that the religion enforces physical and psychological abuse, among other bombshell reports.
According to Variety’s Brent Lang, who saw the film at Sundance, the documentary also “points the finger of blame squarely at two of Scientology’s most famous practitioners, John Travolta and Tom Cruise, and shames them for turning a blind eye to the alleged mistreatments.”
Lang spoke to filmmaker Alex Gibney, who also did the 2005 Enron documentary “The Smartest Guys in the Room,” and “Going Clear” author and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Lawrence Wright, about why Scientology relies so heavily on its celebrity members, like Tom Cruise.
“He’s vital to the church, because he is the most famous Scientologist,” Gibney told Variety of Cruise. “He is their key guy and he is a magnet for people. Very often you’ll ask people what’s Scientology and they’ll say, ‘isn’t that the religion with Tom Cruise’? So he’s their poster boy.”
But both Gibney and Wright accuse Cruise of turning a blind eye to mistreatment in the church.
Wright tells Variety that the actor “has spent countless hours out on the Sea Org base,” where especially harsh punishments are inflicted like “sleeping on the floor on bedrolls with ants crawling around, [people] abused physically, and made to lick the floor or the toilet with their tongue.”
“It’s just unbelievable degradation,” Wright continues. “If he’s [Cruise] ignorant of that then it’s willful on his part.”
Adds Gibney: “The other thing about Cruise is that he’s been the beneficiary of this unbelievably low-paid Sea Org labor. These people are being paid forty cents an hour and they’re tricking out Cruise’s cars.”
Wright bluntly states: “We hold people like Tom Cruise and John Travolta and others responsible for not demanding change inside that church.”
“By not speaking out,” argues Gibney, “it’s a kind of an endorsement and I think that’s why we’re [the documentary] right and properly critical.”
But Scientology’s involvement with celebrities goes beyond just Tom Cruise and John Travolta. The church’s headquarters is based in Hollywood, and actively recruits people in the entertainment industry.
Wright explains to Variety:
This goes back to the founding; when L. Ron Hubbard created the Church of Scientology, he decided to make its headquarters in Hollywood, because he had a very perceptive notion that there is something that all Americans do worship and it’s celebrity and the capital of celebrity is Hollywood. He set out very early to make it a Scientology town.
They always wanted celebrities who could sell Scientology just like the people on the front of the Wheaties box.
Read Wright and Gibney’s full interview with Variety here.
“Going Clear,” which has 160 lawyers preparing for the litigious Church of Scientology’s response, premieres March 16 on HBO.
Earlier this month, the church published a full-page ad in The New York Times accusing the film of reporting false claims about the controversial religion.
The Scientology ad calls out “Going Clear” director Alex Gibney for supposedly not allowing the organization to respond to claims made in the film.
Specifically, the ad asks whether the documentary is “a Rolling Stone/UVA Redux” — a reference to a now notorious article in the magazine about rape at the University of Virginia.
Former Scientology members hope this film will have the power to force major shifts within the church.
“I hope this movie increases public pressure for the church to change its abusive practices,” one former Scientology member told The Times.
From Kim Kardashian West’s full frontal #breaktheinternet stunt to the leaked iCloud celebrity nude pictures, it is safe to say that 2014 gave us more celebrity nudity than we could throw an awkward sex tape at.
While stars selling sex isn’t a new phenomenon, it seems like these last 12 months you couldn’t move for the breasts, bottoms and lady gardens being thrust in your face at every turn.
Thanks to the internet, and some hackers, mere mortals were given unprecedented access and the once fantastical private parts of the rich and famous became trending topics on social media.
Gone were the days we needed a PETA advert or a sex tape conveniently leaked ahead of an album release, for our minds to wonder. The Hollywood crowd gave all the smutty material we needed–wrapped up in (self) promotion – for free.
Rihanna’s pieced nipples on the cover of Lui magazine, Beyonce performing Partition in a thong suit, and Miley Cyrus going topless for no reason, it was actually harder to name a female entertainer who didn’t go down the X-rated route.
That’s not even taking into consideration the celebrity nude leak.
Was it right? No. Were millions entertained, shocked, appealed? Sadly, yes.
Here we look at back at the year that had every Tom, Dick and Harry from tinsel town shedding their clothes.
Celebrity nude leaks
Without a doubt, the biggest celebrity scandal of the year, was the leak of hundreds of explicit images of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton and Arianna Grande in August.
Not only did the hack, dubbed the Fappening, feature epic proportions of nudity, it forced Apple to defend the security of its iCloud network.
Lawrence, who had scores of intimate images of her in various states of undress first posted on 4chan and Reddit, said she felt sexually exploited those responsible.
“It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change,” she told Vanity Fair magazine.
“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory.”
Clearly your celebrity status doesn’t safeguard you from the revenge porn culture.
It has been a memorable year for reality queen Kim Kardashian.
She got married to rapper Kanye West, she covered Vogue and, oh yeah, her risqué spread for Paper Magazine single-handedly sent fans into a frenzy and broke the internet.
Although it was not the first time the mum-of-one had stripped down to her birthday suit, she managed to outdo herself with the help of her million dollar smile and lashings of baby oil.
The image of Kardashian, 34, full frontal with her oiled-up booty on display will be etched unto the minds of millions way into the new year.
Bums, bottoms and a whole lot of arse
When drake dropped the lyrics “started from the bottom, now we’re here” he could have easily been describing the cultural obsession with bums that has seemingly imploded in the last 12 months.
Fresh of the twerking train, celeb high flyers including Nicki Minaj, Khloe Kardashian and Beyonce had the world talking about their bootylicious behinds.
Jennifer Lopez, who basically started the fad with her famous green plunging, derriere-hugging Versace gown at the 2000 Grammys, got fans reminiscing with her sexually-charged video for her track, Booty.
The 45-year-old singer and rapper Iggy azalea can be seen shaking their behinds suggestively. It’s like the video’s director said “All we need is lots of close-ups, twerking and baby oil.” Enough said.
Rapper Nicki Minaj sent pulses racing with the controversial cover art for her banger Anaconda.
The explicit photo, which shows the rapper in a squat position with her butt and G-string exposed to the cameras, was not for the fainted hearted. It inspired spoofs and provoked backlash. Let’s not even get into the video!
In 2014, orange became the new black and topless became the bra.
Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Anne Hathaway are just a few of the celeb high fliers that threw caution, and their bra, to the wind to pose topless.
Famously conservative Keira knightley even flew the flag for small-breasted women everywhere with her spread in the September issue of Interview magazine.
She decided to go nude from the waist up with just a pair of dark trousers and long lace gloves, completing the look with wet hair.
“Anyone calling these shots ‘sexy’ is horribly, horribly misguided. To me, it’s clear that Keira hasn’t got her tits out for the purpose of male titillation,” the Telegraph’s Claire Cohen said of the striking editorial captured by renowned fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier.
“Powerful, yes. Strong, yes. Feminist, absolutely. X-rated? Not even close”
A form of protest or simply an excuse to get her kit off? Only she really knows.
Madonna, aged 56, got her breasts too. But the less said about that the better.