Because even they fear the wrath of David Miscavige, the New York Times' piece on Paul Thomas Anderson's mysterious follow-up to There Will Be Blood, The Master, has the subhead "Paul Thomas Anderson Film May Be About Scientology," when of course what they mean to say is "Paul Thomas Anderson Film Is Totally About Scientology." The Master stars Philip Seymour Hoffman.
As The Master took shape, Mr. Anderson, its writer and director, delved into the personalities behind cults and religious and pop psychology movements with roots in California. Those have included Aimee Semple McPherson, who used radio to evangelize in the 1920s; Werner Erhard, whose est movement swept California in the 1970s; and Jim Jones of San Francisco, whose followers drank the cyanide-laced Flavor Aid (not Kool-Aid) in 1978.
But a glance through the many photographs of Hubbard in the early ’50s—perched in western wear on a fence in Palm Springs, demonstrating his Electro-psychometer to a prone, high-heeled woman—reveals a telling likeness to Mr. Hoffman, who shares the same soft features, light hair and innate theatricality.
In a version of the script that circulated as Mr. Anderson sought financing, Lancaster Dodd is described as being in his mid-40s; Hubbard was in his early 40s during the matching years. Both share a love of boats, and a near-paranoid suspicion of the American Medical Association. Hubbard’s followers hope to become “clear”; the Master’s followers work toward “optimum.” Psychological exploration by and with either involves ruthless interrogation. Both wrote their ultimate secrets in a book that is said to kill its readers or drive them mad. They are obsessed with motorcycles. Their tantrums are monumental. Each has a wife named Mary Sue.
I can't wait to see this thing. Read the whole piece here.