About two years ago, Lawrence Wright dropped a 26-page journalism bomb about Paul Haggis's departure from the Church of Scientology. It appears that was just the tip of the iceberg, as he has a new book on the religion, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, coming out later this month. The Hollywood Reporter excerpted a portion about Tom Cruise, Scientology leader David Miscavige, and Sea Orgs (the church's "elite clergy"). Here's what we learned:
1. Cruise modeled his A Few Good Men character on Miscavige, "a fact that the Church leader liked to brag about."
2. One time when Cruise audited former Sea Org Marc Headley, Kirstie Alley was there. Headley decribed her as a "celebrity prop" because she mostly just read.
3. Between 2000 and 2004, the food costs for the Miscaviges and his guests would range between $3,000 to as much as $20,000 a week.
4. Miscavige would have his light bulbs polished once a month.
5. "Miscavige keeps a number of dogs, including five beagles. He had blue vests made up for each of them, with four stripes on the shoulder epaulets, indicating the rank of Sea Org Captain. He insists that people salute the dogs as they parade by. The dogs have a treadmill where they work out. A full-time staff member feeds, walks and trains the dogs and enters one of them, Jelly, into contests, where he has attained championship status."
6. In comparison, other Sea Orgs ate for about "75 cents a head" and make $50 a week ("it's not unusual [for Sea Org's] to be paid as little as $13 or $14" after fines for infractions). They are also often shut out from the outside world: "Many Sea Org members have not left the base for a decade."
7. Cruise would consult with President Clinton about how to get Prime Minister Tony Blair to declare the Church of Scientology a tax-deductible charitable organization.
8. Cruise met with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Vice-President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby over the church's treatment in Germany.
9. Cruise tried to convince President George W. Bush's Secretary of Education Rod Paige to include Hubbard's "study tech" educational methods into No Child Left Behind.
10. Which lead to this interaction between Cruise and Miscavige:
"Bush may be an idiot," Miscavige observed, "but I wouldn't mind his being our Constantine," referring to the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity.
Cruise agreed. "If f--ing Arnold can be governor, I could be president."
Miscavige responded, "Well, absolutely, Tom."
11. Marty Rathbun, former inspector general of Scientology's Religious Technology Center: "Miscavige convinced Cruise that he and Tom were two of only a handful of truly 'big beings' on the planet. He instructed Cruise that LRH was relying upon them to unite with the few others of their ilk on earth to make it onto 'Target Two' — some unspecified galactic locale where they would meet up with Hubbard in the afterlife."