Feb. 16, 2000
An L. Ron Hubbub Over Flick
Somewhere, L. Ron Hubbard must be smiling. The Church of Scientology, which he founded, could make millions from toys tied to John Travolta's new flick, based on Hubbard's sci-fi novel "Battlefield Earth."
Warner Bros. execs and church officials say the controversial sect had no hand in the making of the film.
But the church possibly has a stake in the film's merchandising. Any spinoff deal benefits Author Services, the agency that handles all of the late Hubbard's novels and stories, according to one Church of Scientology spokesman, Mike Rinder.
But another church spokesman, Aron Mason, insists: "The church has no financial interest in 'Battlefield Earth.' Author Services is not part of the Church of Scientology. They are a literary agency without any connection to the church." Mason says he doesn't know where profits from Author Services go.
Travolta, who is a Scientologist, pushed to get "Battlefield" made, but he insists the $80 million epic was not inspired by the church's teachings. Yet the "Battlefield" story does seem to echo reported aspects of the church's tenets. Both deal in intergalactic travel, space battles and evil aliens.
"There's no way that this movie would be happening without Scientology's backing," Stacey Brooks, a former member of the sect and current president of the Scientology-watchdog group Lisa McPherson Trust, tells us. "This is one example of how Scientology insinuates itself in various aspects of the culture."
Mason doesn't think that the plot of the movie is based on the church's teachings. "That's a pretty crude parallel. You'd have to make some serious leaps of logic to make that comparison."