Damage Control Or Proper Planning? HBO Reportedly Hires 160 Lawyers For Documentary On Scientology

HBO is reportedly preparing to bring the world of Scientology to the small screen yet again. The premium cable and satellite television network will delve into the beliefs of the religious practice and its influence on Hollywood.

According to CNN, the controversial documentary is a film adaptation of the book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, which delves into the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The highly-lauded literary work was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lawrence Wright. The book reportedly discloses a number of harsh unknown facts about the controversial religion based on personal accounts from Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis, who reportedly separated from the church back in 2009. So of course, all viewers won’t be pleased with the details that will be discussed in the film. As a matter of fact some of Wright’s discoveries, such as claims of abuse, have already ruffled feathers.

The group’s spokeswoman, Karin Pouw, spoke on behalf of the group back in 2013 about Wright’s alleged findings.

“The stories of alleged physical abuse are lies concocted by a small group of self-corroborating confessed liars. The hard evidence clearly shows that no such conduct ever occurred and that in fact there is evidence that shows it did NOT occur.”

So, in an effort to combat some of the blowback expected from the controversial film, HBO has reportedly hired 160 lawyers. The network’s Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins recently spoke with the Hollywood Reporter about the plans put in place for the backlash they’re sure to receive from the film.

“We have probably 160 lawyers [looking at the film],” Nevins said.

Although the network is already facing opposition for the upcoming documentary, this actually isn’t the first time HBO has dealt with backlash from a controversial documentary. Back in 1998, the network received less-than-favorable reviews for its documentary, Dead Blue: Surviving Depression.

“I didn’t see what [antidepressants] had to do with Scientology until I worked on that film, until I saw these people outside the building,” recalls Nevins in an interview. “I thought they must be a union protest. But it was our film they were protesting. They’re so anti-psychiatry, anti-medicine and anti-Freud. It was really quite interesting.”

If the documentary is completed in time, it will be submitted for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. HBO hopes to air the documentary some time in 2015.

[Image via Salon.com]