HBO is planning to release a documentary next year, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright‘s best selling book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. (You can read the New Yorker article that spawned it here.)
CNN reports that the film
… digs into the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and the influence his church has had on its believers, many of whom have close ties to Hollywood.
Since Going Clear explores, among other things, allegations of abuse, controlling tactics, and other unsavory conduct, the Church of Scientology has been none too keen on it. The church roundly denounced the claims in the book, calling them “lies concocted by a small group of self-corroborating confessed liars,” and upon the book’s publication in the United States, the New York Times wrote, Wright reportedly received multiple threats of legal action from both famous Scientologists as well as the church itself.
His UK publisher, Transworld, subsequently canceled a planned release of the book in Britain, “though a spokeswoman insisted that the decision was not made in response to threats [of litigation] from the church.”
Whatever the cause, HBO is taking the prudent approach and hiring legal counsel in advance of what will likely be inevitable backlash from the infamously litigious church. Quite a bit of counsel, as it happens.
“We have probably 160 lawyers” looking at the film, HBO Documentary Films President Sheila Nevins told The Hollywood Reporter.
This way, Nevin says, when the church’s response comes, “we’ll be ready.”