Is Harvey Using Scientology to Market 'Master'?

Paul Thomas Anderson might be playing down the connection between Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Philip Seymour Hoffman's character in The Master, but Harvey Weinstein certainly doesn't appear to be backing away from the claims. On Sept. 11, the day of the film's New York premiere, a wave of headlines revealed that The Weinstein Co. beefed up security after its offices had been flooded by calls from angry Scientologists. Sources tell THR the threats were indeed real, but the volume of reports prompted chuckles from several rival studio execs, skeptical that Weinstein is using the curiosity to fuel the marketing campaign for the character-driven drama. Some have even speculated that the movie's release date was moved up a month to Sept. 14 because Weinstein -- who has an illustrious track record of working controversy to his favor -- wanted to ride the latest wave of Scientology press that accompanied Katie Holmes' divorce from devout Scientologist Tom Cruise, whom Anderson directed in 1999's Magnolia. "We are still friends," the director assured reporters at the Venice Film Festival. The Weinstein Co. president of distribution Erik Lomis insists that Scientology had nothing to do with the scheduling change. "We feel that the film is great," he told the Los Angeles Times. "It plays great, and we wanted to get it out in front of everyone else."

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