HBO is working on a documentary on the Church of Scientology and promises to dig deep into the controversial religion. But, considering the sensitivity of the matter, HBO has hired legal backup for the probable litigations from the Church.
"We have probably 160 lawyers [looking at the film]," said Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films. The premium cable channel is also preparing to face massive protests from the community.
The documentary, "Going Clear", is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright's controversial book on the topic, named "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief". The book is based on the life of the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, and the influence of his church on the believers, CNN reports.
Initially, the book was criticized openly by the litigious Church of Scientology. Wright received "threatening letters from lawyers" when the book was released in 2013. The church went ahead and published a lengthy takedown of the book upon its release in the United States. The church's statement read: "Mr. Wright's book is so ludicrous it belongs in a supermarket tabloid. The claims are nothing more than a stale rehash of allegations disproven long ago."
The book's publishers in the United Kingdom did not publish the book on the advice of lawyers.
Many famous Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Will Smith are members of the church and have defended it often.
It has been learnt that Oscar-winner Documentary film director and producer Alex Gibney is giving the finishing touches to the film that deals with decoding the secrets of the Church of Scientology and its connection with tinseltown personalities.
If the documentary is finished in time, it likely will be submitted to the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2015.
This will not be the first time that HBO will have a clash with the Church of Scientology. In 1998, when the network aired the documentary "Dead Blue: Surviving Depression", many scientologist protesters gathered in front of HBO's Manhattan headquarters lashing out at Nevins and the company for showing the positive effects of antidepressant drugs. Scientologists are against psychiatry and the documentary was opposed to their beliefs.
"I didn't see what [antidepressants] had to do with Scientology until I worked on that film, until I saw these people outside the building. I thought they must be a union protest. But it was our film they were protesting. They're so anti-psychiatry, anti-medicine and anti-Freud. It was really quite interesting," Nevins said in an interview, The Hollywood Reporter reports.