HBO are Developing a Documentary Film about Scientology.
Based on Lawrence Wright's controversial book 'Going Clear,' the documentary from Alex Gibney is likely to draw an aggressive response from the notoriously litigious churchhttp://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/hbo-prepping-bombshell-scientology-film-751497
THR has learned that Oscar winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) is putting the finishing touches on a film that tackles the Church of Scientology and its Tinseltown tentacles. HBO, no stranger to controversy, having ushered such hot-button docs as The Case Against 8 and the Paradise Lost trilogy to the screen, is eyeing a 2015 airdate for Going Clear, which is based on Lawrence Wright's controversial book that was also exclusively excerpted in THR.
HBO long has championed documentary filmmaking. It commissioned the Scientology project two years ago, before the book's 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.
HBO and Gibney (UTA, Cowan DeBaets) aren't inclined to back down, having taken on other powerful organizations in the past including the Catholic Church (Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God) and the U.S. military (Taxi to the Dark Side). And though Wright says he has received threatening letters from lawyers representing Hollywood Scientologists, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author is prevailing in the battle of wills. Thanks to HBO, his story of physical abuse and imprisonment within the church now will reach a much wider audience.
Says Nevins, "And this time, we'll be ready."