I figure with a title like that somebody might read the thread. What, it has nothing to do with the subject? No shit, huh?
Inside the Churchâ€™s Celebrity Centre.
by Dana Goodyear
JANUARY 14, 2008
Franklin Avenue, skimming past the mouths of Hollywoodâ€™s eastern canyons, at the disappearing far-north edge of city maps, forms a halfhearted high street for the apartment dwellers clustered on its banks. Public life happens in the Mayfair grocery store, and in a block-long stretch of sidewalk cafĂ©s and used-book stores. The apartment buildings are old, and in some cases beautiful, like the Villa Carlotta, a late-nineteen-twenties Mediterranean-style structure designed by Arthur Harvey, where the architect Wallace Neff lived for many years.
Across from the Villa Carlotta is the avenueâ€™s defining anomaly: a monumental turreted castle, also designed by Harvey, on a three-acre site, with formal gardens, a bubbling stream, a tennis court, and a pair of rubber trees that are more than a hundred years old. Seven stories tall, the castle is an overgrown folly the color of farm cream, with swaying long-necked palms that seem to graze its roofs. â€śYou want to circle the block and look at it,â€ť Richardson Robertson III, a local architect, says. â€śItâ€™s unusual in the modern-box world we live in to see so many nooks and crannies and little windows and interesting roof lines.â€ť Built as the ChĂ˘teau Ă‰lysĂ©e, a long-term residential hotel for movie stars, it is considered by preservationists to be one of the cityâ€™s grandest Norman-revival buildings. (The ChĂ˘teau Marmont is smaller and sits on considerably less land.) Since 1973, the ChĂ˘teau Ă‰lysĂ©e has been owned by the Church of Scientology, which calls it Celebrity Centre.
Scientology, the religion that grew out of L. Ron Hubbardâ€™s popular self-help manual â€śDianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health,â€ť incorporates aspects of Eastern philosophy, management theory, and science fictionâ€”a genre in which Hubbard was prolific. The first Scientology church was established in downtown Los Angeles, in 1954. Although the Churchâ€™s spiritual headquarters are in Clearwater, Florida, and it has facilities around the world, Scientology is most deeply associated with Los Angeles and its entertainment industry. The dozens of local buildings owned by the Church, many of them historically significant and now prominently marked with posters advertising â€śDianeticsâ€ť or with the eight-pointed cross that serves as one of Scientologyâ€™s symbols, have entered the landscape of iconic L.A. architecture as a visually stimulating mash of old Hollywood and seventies-style art direction and signage. At Celebrity Centre, where a large yellow sign affixed to a south-facing roof overlooking the 101 Freeway announces the building and its owner, this juxtaposition is especially acute. Diane Kanner, an architectural historian who specializes in twentieth-century Los Angeles, calls the building ChĂ˘teau Scientology.
From the outset, the conversion of celebrities was important to Scientology. An internal newsletter produced by the Hubbard Communications Office, probably in the mid-fifties, asserts, â€śThere are many to whom America and the world listens. On the backs of these are carried most of the enthusiasms on which the society runs.â€ť It goes on, â€śIt is obvious what would happen to America if we helped its leaders to help others. Project Celebrity is part of that program. It is obvious what would happen to Scientology if prime communicators benefitting from it would mention it now and then.â€ť The piece concludes with a list of the dayâ€™s starsâ€”Orson Welles, Howard Hughes, Walt Disney, and Greta Garbo among themâ€”referring to them as â€śgameâ€ť and â€śquarryâ€ť for Scientologists to â€śhunt.â€ť Though Scientology is not known to have had success with this early group, the movement now counts Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, and many other celebrities as members.
more at: drewprof.com Oops, my mistake. I meant: Letter from California: Château Scientology: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker