New York Times Runs Scientology Ad Targeting Upcoming HBO Documentary

Alex Gibney - H 2013
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Alex Gibney - H 2013

The print ad compares director Alex Gibney’s documentary to the recent Rolling Stone and UVA controversy stating, “HBO is not confirming facts central to the film.”

The Church of Scientology took to the New York Times to publicly denounce director Alex Gibney’s upcoming HBO documentary, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, on Friday. In a full-page advertisement, the Church makes claims that the doc, based on the book Going Clear by Lawrence Wright, is grounded in false information.

Headlined “Is Alex Gibney’s Upcoming HBO ‘Documentary’ a Rolling Stone/UVA Redux?” the ad makes a comparison between Gibney’s work and Rolling Stone’s recent report on campus rape at the University of Virginia that sparked controversy when it was found to be riddled with false claims.

The ad singles out Gibney and HBO documentary chief Sheila Nevins for refusing to meet with executives of the Church who made requests to “comment on the ‘facts’” made about the religion.

It also states, “Mr. Gibney’s film has been in the works in secret for two years. He and HBO never bothered to tell the Church it was even being made until recently.”

The Church of Scientology is declaring its entitlement to free speech by “taking a resolute stand against” the publishing of improper facts. In response, Gibney recently fired back on Twitter stating that the Scientology ad is a “chosen device of a business protecting market share, not church protecting belief.”

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, recently acquired by Content Media, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25 and make its way to HBO on March 16.

HBO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.