Jenn Hoffman: hired to sing in a Scientology holiday choir

Discussion in 'Media' started by The Wrong Guy, Oct 23, 2015.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    The Time I Sang in a Scientology Holiday Choir

    By Jenn Hoffman, Motherboard, October 23, 2015


    It’s December 2009. I receive a text message from my friend Jesse, an actor I had just finished filming a television pilot with.

    Jesse: Hey wanna get paid to sing in a choir tonight

    Me: Where/when

    Jesse: Scientology holiday celebration


    An hour later I was in a basement in downtown Los Angeles. The holding area for about 50 singers was huge and served as our green room before the performance. I was given a robe and a few pages of printed lyrics to two different songs. I asked if we needed to hear the music cues before performing but was told to just mouth the words the best I can. We would be lip-syncing. They may have rehearsed the songs before I arrived but I was the last person in the door so things happened quickly.

    I had just joined the Scientology gospel choir for its annual holiday concert.

    The mood in the green room was energetic and friendly. We were paid actors playing a role in a pageant at a church we only heard mysterious rumors about. This struck me as odd, because most choirs are comprised of active members who identify with that particular religion. I wanted to be respectful and non-judgmental, so I never addressed the fact that we were being paid to pretend we were part of something we were not. This was also because I love to pretend I am part of things I am not so I can take an unfettered look inside.

    The holiday itself was ambiguous: Scientology doesn't have a traditional Christmas because the church doesn't celebrate the birth of Jesus. Scientology does allow members to have dual religious beliefs, however, so many Scientologists still celebrate Christmas, just not in an official capacity with that church.

    When we took the stage we were met with a crowd much larger than I expected. It was like a megachurch. A megachurch with Tom Cruise seated up front and center.

    Actually, a megachurch with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Cruise and Suri seated up front and center, looking right at me.

    I encountered celebrities a lot while at work. My day job was a being a red carpet and special events reporter for a tabloid magazine. I got excited wondering if I could actually get paid twice for this gig. A story about what Suri Cruise wore to the Scientology Christmas party could pay my rent for months.

    My fantasies were interrupted when David Miscavige took the stage and talked about the future of Scientology. He said the future was going to be very good. The strength of the church and the success of its members was central to his speech. He sounded a lot like a CEO or motivational speaker. I later found a partial transcript of his speech.

    "Our battles of yesterday were to stay alive. Our battles of tomorrow are to overcome the obstacles to eternity itself. Because we have never taken our eye off the ultimate prize, we stand where we are today. Twenty-five years of magnificent accomplishment and a future more glorious than we could have ever imagined."

    The congregation cheered and Tom Cruise smiled hugely and clapped wildly. I felt simultaneously excited and guilty for staring at this famous person during a private religious ceremony he was attending with his family.

    Shortly after singing we were escorted off stage and back down to the green room to fill out paperwork. We were released from duty. Instead of leaving I went upstairs and checked out the party. I don’t know what I expected to see. A secret ceremony involving a volcano? The ghost of L. Ron Hubbard? A room full of people cooler and more famous than me? I hoped for all three.

    The party was lined with informational booths and tables containing Scientology literature—more like a trade show than a party. There was nothing weird or even particularly cool going on. It was basically the same coffee and cake hour that follows a typical church service, but there were a few more books and a lot more Beck. No one tried to indoctrinate me.

    I decided to audition for more Scientology productions.

    The Church of Scientology creates a lot of informational videos, made by its in-house production company Golden Era Productions. It’s not uncommon for non-Scientologist actors to appear in these videos. Most actors I knew in LA submitted a headshot and resume to Golden Era at some point early on in their career. This is because GE accepts direct submissions from actors who don't have representation. When you finally do sign with an agent, most advise against doing these videos. I don't understand why this is a problem. Actors appear in ads for pharmaceutical drugs they don’t use and model clothing they don’t wear, so why is it scandalous to appear in a Scientology video? There's a Hollywood rumor that Robert Duvall did a Dianetics commercial. I’ve been trying to find it online forever. If you unearth this footage, please let me know.

    The casting process for Golden Era Productions is just like any other audition scenario in Los Angeles, only much better and way less creepy. The point of contact for casting was a woman named Valerie Light who was responsive and kind. She gave feedback at auditions and answered emails. She was probably the nicest casting associate I dealt with in LA.

    The first time I auditioned for a Scientology production was at the Celebrity Centre, a massive mixed-use building that sits near the bottom of Bronson Canyon. There were dozens of attractive young people hanging out at tables talking and reading. A 14-year-old Connor Cruise was casually standing at the security desk when I arrived. When I signed in he said “hi” and ran off with a gaggle of friends. He was clearly the cool kid on campus.

    I filled out paperwork, including a non-disclosure form about the script and exact nature of the video. I don’t remember any of my lines or what the video was specifically about, but I do remember I was playing a character with some sort of moral dilemma about her place in Hollywood. A casting couch type of situation.

    Continued here:
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  3. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology’s casting calls get nuttier all the time. Who would you hire to fill them?

    By Tony Ortega, May 13, 2017


    From time to time, our tipsters send us casting notices for Scientology films and commercials, which never fail to make us chuckle.

    Marc Headley has explained to us that in the past, it was more common for Scientology to use its own people to star in its many audiovisual presentations. Headley could look at a goofy instructional film produced in the 1990s and tell you the names and backgrounds of everyone you see on screen.

    But then a mass exodus of church members included a lot of Sea Org employees, and that caused a problem for many of the films Scientology had on the shelf. What can you do when Larry Anderson, the star of “Orientation,” walks out and then demands a refund? And what a pain it must have been to reshoot the “Book One” film after losing its narrator, Michael Fairman.

    (We happened to see the reshoot on that movie — with Andreas Heldal-Lund, of all people — and they had replaced Fairman with a guy who only appeared to be in his 50s. When he talked about what it was like to hang out with L. Ron Hubbard in the 1940s, it just did not compute.)

    The obvious solution to the problem of reshooting films because they were filled with escapees was to start hiring non-Scientologists for the roles. And that’s how Scientology began putting out constant casting calls. One of our tipsters sent us over all of the current ones, just for fun:


    So hey, it’s Saturday. Let’s have some fun. Provide us some head shots for the poor beleaguered Scientology casting agent to get these roles filled. Who would you like to see crying on camera or being a “friendly investigator?”

    Source, and open comments:
  4. The Wrong Guy Member

    Bonus items from our tipsters

    By Tony Ortega, July 16, 2018


    Says our correspondent: “Golden Era Productions sends out these casting notices almost every day. It looks like some of the Scientology Channel programming is being translated to other languages: ‘Narrate 50 hours of programming’? The notices are a look into where the church is looking to expand. Evidently, these countries are on the list to be cleared first.”



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