Actress Diana Canova was once deeply hooked in Scientology. She was one of many recruited to the cult in the years before the Internet. Here she speaks about an incident in which a single negative line in a film drove Scientology wild.
“The Poorer and Famous Hollywood Scientologists, Catch a Rising Star,” by John H. Richardson. From “Premiere,” September 1993.
Hubbard left little doubt about how suppressives were to be treated. Consider rule number twelve in Scientology’s official code of honor: “Never fear to hurt another in a just cause.”
And Scientologists take their code of honor very seriously. “I remember having a choking anger against anyone who ever said anything against Scientology,” says actress Diana Canova (Soap), a former member. “I would get crazy, I was just so angry. I would have done anything for them.”
SOME OF SCIENTOLOGY’S MOST FERVENT EFFORTS seem to go toward preventing–or quashing–bad publicity. In 1990 Universal Pictures made a film with John Candy called Delirious, directed by Tom Mankiewicz and produced by Richard Donner, director of the Lethal Weapon series. In it, Emma Samms mused to her screen brother about Candy’s “strange power” over her. “It’s like I don’t have a will of my own,” she said. “Do you think he’s a Scientologist?” the brother asked.
“After the first rough cut Tom and I started getting letters and phone calls,” Donner says. “They were saccharine, but there was an underlying threat.”
“It was clearly orchestrated,” Mankiewicz recalls. “One letter to Dick, cc: Tom Mankiewicz. Then the next day, one to Tom Mankiewicz, cc: Dick Donner. Then two a day. They never stopped; they got worse. The tone got angrier, to the point of ‘How would you feel if he was a Jew?'”
Donner has a few of the letters still in his files. “You may be aware of some of my books on films and the film industry,” one begins, “including Directing the Film and Selling Your Film. Also, I have
been directing my own pictures for twenty years, including the upcoming PBS twelve-part series Futures featuring Jaime Escalante. I’m writing to you because I’ve heard that in your new production, there is a reference to Scientology, my religion, which is derogatory.” The letter ends by invoking the names of Scientology celebrities: “I’m sure my colleagues–Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, Milton Katselas, Floyd Mutrux, Anne Archer, Chick Corea, and others–will join me in thanking you for taking this step on behalf of intellectual honesty. Sincerely, Eric Sherman.” The other letters are strikingly similar. One from Moe Howard’s grandson Jeffrey Scott (who helped develop Jim
Henson’s Muppet Babies) begins with this introduction: “You do not know me directly, but indirectly I am responsible for approving the use of Three Stooges clips in your Lethal Weapon series….”
“It finally got to be something really strange–they just wouldn’t stop,” Mankiewicz says. And when he and Donner ignored the letters, there was concern about a lawsuit. “The lawyer said, ‘They have no case, but the chances are fifty-fifty they’ll take you to court. How important is this to you?'”
Donner and Mankiewicz still stalled, testing the film, feeling “First Amendment outrage.” But gradually things began to escalate, initially with threatening, anonymous phone calls–“then Tom’s house was broken into,” Donner recalls. “Nothing was taken, but things were moved around, drawers turned upside down. It was, like, ‘We can get into your house.’ He went to the police,
told them about the threats, but there was no way of pinning it down.” Mankiewicz refuses to comment about either the threatening phone calls or the break-in, saying there was no evidence to link them to Scientology. But Donner and Mankiewicz decided to lose the gag. . .
“There was always pressure to get other celebrities in,” agrees Canova. “Once I got a call from this guy at Celebrity Centre at 6 in the morning. He says, ‘Diana, you’ve got to get over here to the hospital, Freddie Prinze has just shot himself.’ I used to date Freddie. This guy is freaking out.
‘You got to come over, and you got to get me in to see Freddie. If I can get in to see Freddie, I can save his life. I’ll tell him to get back into his body.’ That was such a weird thing to me, the ultimate dissemination. Wouldn’t it have been a coup–Scientology saves Freddie Prinze?”
“When I was a student at the Celebrity Centre,” says Lisa Halverson, a former Scientologist who was with the Los Angeles church for fifteen years, “sometimes uniformed personnel would come into the course room and ask us to write down names of what they call in Scientology ‘opinion leaders,’ heavy hitters of some sort in whatever their sphere of activity might be–in business, politics, and arts and entertainment.” It was common knowledge, she said, that the names would be put on a recruitment list.
Canova found the Scientologists straightforward in their desire for lucre. “The first time I walked in those doors, they said, ‘Just give us all the money in your bank account. You’ll get it back tenfold.'” When she joined, auditing prices were about $25. “It went up to about $175 in the early ’80s,”
she recalls. “That was shocking to me. I was beginning to wonder, Is it really worth it? They’re telling you, ‘Don’t spend $100 an hour on a shrink’s couch, it’ll ruin your mind.’ Auditing is so much better?”
For the entire article go here: http://www.bible.ca/scientology-poor-famous-members.htm
For the Wikipedia article on Diana Canova go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_Canova