'Semi-Tough' Battle for Enlightenment


'Do Tom's (Cruise) fellow Scientologists lust after Nichole (Kidman)?'

by the 'Enlightened' "Crazy" Ed Savitt, c 2001

The West Coast capitals of 'hip' (San Francisco & L.A.) have spawned many disciples to L. Ron Hubbard and Werner Erhard, the enlightened 'semi-gurus' who founded Scientology and EST, respectively.

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For years, Scientology advertised for converts pitching 'the Gospel according to Hubbard', Dianetics. "Have you ever wondered about your reactive mind?"

The Hollywood "A" list has two highly visible Scientologists: John Travolta & Tom Cruise.

John Travolta produced Hubbard's classic sci-fi thriller, dubbed "the Scientology flick" (Premiere, Feb.'99). A box-office dud, cable viewers wearied through endless runs of Travolta as a 12 foot alien (battling humanity & poor Barry Pepper).
Rarely does anyone directly 'take on' EST & Scientology. Here, we provide all "you assholes" a chance to 'experience enlightenment' with no expensive donations, bulky pamphlets or weekend long seminars.

Convy, Clayburgh, Kristofferson

Semi-Tough ('77): Burt Reynolds & Kris Kristofferson are football players & enlightenment wannabes. The late Bert Convy (TV Match Game) does the definitive parody of EST's founder Werner Erhard.

Erhard (a Hubbard disciple?) gave EST (latin for 'it is') an Eastern/Hindu twist. EST was the more public forum for personal transformation. Scientology retained a private mystique.

click for a "Semi-Tough experience" (note: PG-13 profanity)

Listen carefully for the enraged Team Owner: it's Robert Preston (The Music Man, Victor Victoria). Daughter Jill Clayburgh is left at the alter. Preston threatens to trade Kristofferson to a losing expansion team. As mayhem erupts, Preston attacks Bert Convy.

To the unenlightened populace, these movement/ 'religions' trigger rumors & stereotypes ("mind control" techniques, pressure to convert, excessive donation demands, questionable non-profit status, etc.).

For those now truly enlightened, my sense is that it all gets down to "doing business" in one form or another.

The Business of Self-Improvement

The experience of an "in-your-face" recruitment pitch by a recent EST convert is unequaled to anything--short of a surprise Amway marketing recruitment seminar (hosted by your former best friend).

The late John Candy tells his Stripes platoon he "swallowed aggression along with a lot of pizzas." He wanted "to take an anger management course, like EST, only I didn't have the 400 bucks, so to get in shape, I joined the army..." Bill Murray and Harold Ramis had joined the Army for similar reasons-their lives weren't working!

Stripes, 1981

Choosing therapy is like asking for a shot, but 20 years ago, at my Mom's urging, I participated in the grueling 2 weekend seminar, the EST "basic training." Ok, so my mother also signed on for Amway…she meant well!

I rationalized my participation as affordable group therapy (average cost: just under $8 an hr). My immediate return on the $450 tuition: the will power to quit smoking 'cold turkey' (I kicked a 2-pack-daily habit & haven't smoked cigarettes since Aug '82). I also met some interesting folks.

EST Theory One: Sharing

I befriended Larry, a contemporary Yuppie (Chiropractor). Larry's motivator for the EST training was his mentor & (soon former) business partner. Sharing is a very big part of the EST culture. I was amazed when Larry and his buxom, blue-eyed (new) wife shared the tale of how they got together. Seems Larry took over both the business and his (ex-partner's) girlfriend, now Larry's wife!

Speaking of sharing bed-partners, click for Ed's article 'Adultery & Ted Danson'

Next: a study in another basic EST premise: 'business & friends do not mix.'


Ed? on a rope? Yep!

EST Theory Two: Teamwork

Jed & I were Big Chill-era '80's yuppy aggressive 'type A's.' We boot-camped a brutal week through (COVERT, as I christened COmbat Variety Est Radical Training) the California "6 day."

The rigorous diet/exercise, mountain climbing & teamwork inspired years of yuppy 'professional success.'

Jed moved from Wisconsin to Florida, trying to find the right business opportunity. It was amusing at first--he brokered mail order 'portable' office equipment, vitamins & (useless?) health supplements like 'hard water.'

Friendships die if they get involved in M.L.M. (MLM = multi-level marketing). Jed wasn't the kind to hear "no."

Like my mother before me, I became a puppet (distributor); over-supplied with safe natural household cleaners & silly homeopathic supplements.

The Over-Reactive Mind: If the EST convert is openly enthusiastic, Scientologists generally are private about the religion.

I presume Tom converted Nichole as I presume John Travolta introduced spouse Kelly Preston (Twins, 52 Pick-Up)& his gal pal Kirstie Alley (Cheers, Look Who's Talking).

'The unbearable enlightenment of being...'

In Bowfinger (Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin), Terence Stamp (The Limey, General Zod in Superman) ran 'Mindhead' (a parody to Scientology). Eddie Murphy is a high strung, paranoid 'A list' actor (the unknowing star of Martin's low budget sci-fi flick). When approached by alien bodysnatchers, Murphy retreats to Mindhead for safety & sanity.

click here for Bowfinger mix

The Scientology therapeutic repartee is empowered by sensitive electronics & a Jedi-type 'Mental Influence'

Pre-1977 we called it a Vulcan mind-meld

I met a practitioner therapist; working with her husband, a state licensed psychoanalyst. Her training, she claimed, was "directly with the L. Ron Hubbard."

A Scientology 'therapy session' involves the 'patient' holding metallic sensors wired to a small monitor; she monitored the unit & measured changes. Quiet talk/meditation & the patient would trigger polygraph-type modulations, allegedly energy released from a past life--the patient is encouraged to recall & confront the experience.

Aha! It is soo simple--



Nichol Williamson (from Excalibur)


Notice a resemblence?
The attractive concept of reincarnation or life after death explains the attraction to Scientology wizard L. Ron Hubbard; a combination of John Edward "life-goes-on-after-death" (Crossing Over) & Merlin the magician; faith & magic phrases can influence heaven & earth!

She referred me to "business consultants", purportedly with a like background. A non-refundable fee of $50 thousand would both manage & expand my professional practice (primary technique: growth through personal encouragement).

I passed: do you remember an early Bruce Willis/Samuel Jackson exchange in Unbreakable? Jackson's spin on the unnatural assaults Willis' common sense; we are warned of the weak being taken advantage of. "Now all I need is your credit card number…"

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Travolta (with Pulp Fiction super-cool costars Samuel Jackson and Bruce Willis) seems natural, outfitted with a swaggering confidence borne of success (Battlefield Earth notwithstanding).


click for cool Travolta soundbite from Ed's Archives

Travolta is a commercially airline trained jet pilot. In an interview, he told of handling a "black cabin" (an electrical mishap where all interior lighting fails). This is one together Scientologist!
How was Tom turned onto Scientology? (I don't think it was his mother!)
Maybe ex-girlfriend Rebecca DeMornay (Risky Business), or perhaps 1st wife Mimi Rogers (Austin Powers, Lost in Space)
a 'Far & Away' Look

Does Tom have past lives?
    So, as this essay title inquires: What reaction does a Nichole arrival have on Tom's Scientology associates? Respectful, with averted 'Eyes Wide Shut?' Or do they openly display of Malice & a lust To Die For?
Where did his zealous Magnolia persona spring from?
With Nichole in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, Cruise is a 'confused success.' Near the top of his game, but, as doctor, lawyer or "A" list Superstar, you wonder…if his life…works. Yet, his 'Star' persona survives each setback.

I can't swear that he is enlightened, but his always-tough grin & camera-ready eye contact never let on that he is anything but at the top of his game.


Cruise and Cameron Diaz, his co-star in Vanilla Sky
Are you listening, Penelope?