HBO and BBC battling to get full-length films about Scientology out first

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HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins told the Hollywood Reporter she has about 160 lawyers working on the project, and she expects to be ready for a legal onslaught from the church’s legendarily pugnacious lawyers. We don’t see Scientology stopping this film, however.

But what HBO does have to pay attention to is some competition from the BBC. More than two years ago, we first heard from producer Simon Chinn, who told us he wanted to make a full-length feature film for theater release. He put the project on the shelf for a while (and won an Oscar in the meantime), but then got things going again this year by hiring a director — the excellent John Dower — and, to star in the film, BBC broadcaster Louis Theroux. In the months since, Karen de la Carriere has posted numerous photographs of Theroux as he has come over to interview her at her Los Feliz home (turns out he’s a neighbor).

We think both films will be going over some similar territory (the Marty Rathbun story, for example, which has already been given the documentary treatment in Scientologists at War) but using very different techniques.