I’ve been diving into the Hollywood Reporter site this week and discovered a small story about Paul Haggis. Who? I didn’t know either until I looked him up and he has an impressive resume. He began his career writing for several well known sitcoms and TV dramas in the eighties and nineties including Facts of Life, Diff’rent Strokes, The Love Boat, L.A. Law, and The Tracey Ullman Show. Then he helped to create well known TV series such as Walker, Texas Ranger–BTW, did you know iTunes is afraid of being sued by Chuck Norris? I had to remove a parody cartoon about him for an APP or they wouldn’t publish it.
Recognition came to Paul Haggis when he wrote the screenplay for the Clint Eastwood directed Million Dollar Baby (2004). Finally Haggis started directing and received two Academy Awards for Crash (2005).
During much of his career Haggis was involved with The Church of Scientology, but finally decided to leave the religion when the church leadership would not officially condemn support for Proposition 8, the Gay Marriage ban in California. The San Diego branch of the church came out in favor of the ban. Haggis had other issues with Scientology on his list, but this was the breaking point.
The article from The Hollywood Reporter is a sidenote that simply clarifies Haggis is not collaborating with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright. Wright is currently writing a book about Scientology and Haggis called The Heretic of Hollywood: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology. While Lawrence Wright is doing his own investigation, it appears this book could serve as a source of embarrassment for the Church of Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Scientology has strategically buddied up to Hollywood for several reasons including financial support and as a way of preventing creative types from exposing it as the whacko cult that it is. Haggis certainly doesn’t have high name recognition but he does have prestige and respect within the industry. If we see more directors/actors defecting from the church there could be an unraveling of Scientology’s stranglehold on preventing bad publicity. After all, South Park did some major damage with only a few cartoon episodes.