Alex Gibney Prepares Scientology Documentary Going Clear For HBO


Scientology has suffered some pretty bad PR in the past few years, and it’s likely to get worse. With everything from abuse scandals to tell-all memoirs from former members, the Church of Scientology has looked increasingly bad. Now we hear that HBO is preparing to air documentary Going Clear by Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), focusing on Scientology’s powerful grasp on Hollywood.

Going Clear is based on Lawrence Wright’s book of the same name that detailed the history of Scientology, its founder L. Ron Hubbard, and the highly influential and highly suspect organization that has such powerful grounding in Hollywood. Like the book, the film is supposed to contain more revelations, some from formerly high-ranking members of the Church.

The Church of Scientology is a rather litigious organization, so HBO has prepared itself accordingly. According to HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins, 160 lawyers have looked over the film and HBO is braced for protests. Given the backlash that other Scientology documentaries have faced, it’s no wonder. Even the book Going Clear was pulled by its U.K. publisher on advice from lawyers.

HBO has also tussled with Scientology before, when the religion staged a protest against the documentary Dead Blue: Surviving Depression. Despite not having anything to do with Scientology itself, the 1998 film apparently angered followers enough that they protested in front of HBO’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

HBO is right to be worried, but it sounds like they are set for anything that Scientology can throw at them. The religion has been so discredited in the public eye that by this point there’s not much they can do to make themselves look worse.

Going Clear is set for 2015 airdate, though no specific date has yet been announced. There’s also word that it may be set for next year’s Sundance Film Festival, if finished in time.