TV Series 'Based' on Scientology:
Must Be a Sitcom, Right? Christopher Lloyd As Xenu?
Is CBS' Cult Pilot Cruising for Trouble?
from Channel Island
Could a CBS pilot be the next flashpoint in Hollywood's growing conflict with Scientology?
With Comedy Central's South Park in a major fracas involving celebrity Scientologists Tom Cruise and Isaac Hayes, CBS is scheduled to wrap shooting in Vancouver late this week on Orpheus, a dramatic pilot by writer and executive producer Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) about an organization that bears a striking resemblance to L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology.
According to a copy of the script obtained by Channel Island, Orpheus concerns Guy (Nicholas D'Agosto), a young would-be lawyer whose whirlwind romance with small-town siren Sue Ellen (Mena Suvari) sidetracks him into a shadowy, menacing group called "Grand Design," or GD. GD attracts new believers with a bestselling quasi-philosophical book akin to Hubbard's Dianetics and, like Scientology, uses a complicated ranking system for followers. To describe spiritual beings who haven't ascended to a higher plane, GD uses the word "Galatean," a barely disguised echo of the Scientology term "thetan." GD-ers even boast of their exploits on behalf of victims of Hurricane Katrina, recalling similar missions publicized by Scientologists.
"If 12 people believe something, they're a cult," Suvari's Sue Ellen says, "but if a hundred million believe it, they're a religion."
Asked about the similarities with Scientology, Lauri Metrose, a spokeswoman for CBS Paramount Network Television, replied in an email, "You are reading an early draft and there have been (as with any pilot) many changes big and small. The cult is an amalgamation of all cults throughout history." The draft that Channel Island obtained is dated Jan. 20, 2006.