The Church of Scientology has been besieged by more negative publicity than usual this week: First there was the publication of Lawrence Wright’s “The Apostate,” a lengthy exposé of the organization as seen through the eyes of high-profile defector Paul Haggis, and containing fascinating allegations of abuse and cover-ups, disappeared wives, and John Travolta magically healing Marlon Brando’s leg.
Then there’s RadarOnline’s recent uncovering of what it claims to be internal e-mails and insider accounts of the Church essentially conscripting members into slave labor to build Tom Cruise an airport hangar, a luxury SUV, and a trailer-style bus where Katie Holmes could undergo purification rituals—all “for the betterment of mankind.” But while revelations of the various facets of Scientology’s far-reaching plan to install Suri Cruise as our future-and-eternal despot have already forced its leaders to fight back, perhaps its one abiding victory has been that Paul Thomas Anderson’s thinly fictionalized Scientology film The Master had more or less been abandoned after Universal supposedly balked at the $35 million price, even though it gladly spends twice that making The Dilemma.
However, Vulture reports that all of that may soon change thanks to Megan Ellison, the 25-year-old daughter of billionaire Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who’s close to signing a deal to co-finance both The Master and Anderson’s other recently rumored project, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. It’s not clear yet which one could be developed first: The Master has a completed script, but onetime star Jeremy Renner has moved on—although Phillip Seymour Hoffman is said to still be interested in playing the spiritual leader of the group known as The Cause. Meanwhile, Inherent Vice has the blessing of Pynchon himself, who has been consulting with Anderson as he finishes the second draft of his screenplay, and possible lead Robert Downey Jr. just created a big hole in his schedule by dropping out of Oz, The Great And Powerful. Either film could reportedly begin shooting as early as this year.
For Megan Ellison, this move is yet more indication that the erstwhile socialite has unusually good taste: Before these latest ventures, she proved herself by co-financing both True Grit and John Hillcoat/Nick Cave’s upcoming The Wettest County In The World—a far cry from her brother David Ellison, who’s mostly used his bankroll to finance self-serving projects like playing a pilot in Flyboys and trying to make a Top Gun sequel. Anyway, either P.T. Anderson film would obviously be something to look forward to, but only The Master has the potential to finally spark the great Scientology-Suppressive Persons War that will pave the way for Suri’s ascension.