Paul Haggis Claims a Scientology Spy Posed as a Time Magazine Reporter Requesting an Interview
The email was supposedly sent from a building owned by the Church of Scientology.
Paul Haggis is alleging that a Church of Scientology spy posed as a Time magazine reporter in an effort to get a one-on-one interview with him.
On April 7, Haggis received an email requesting an interview from Mark Webber, who claimed to be writing an article for Time magazine. In the email, reprinted below. Webber said he was speaking with numerous directors for a "golden age of film" article and referenced Crash, Haggis' Oscar-winning film.
Dear Mr. Haggis,
I am writing a piece for Time Magazine on the 'golden age' of film. - I would very much like to interview you for the piece and include "Crash" as a example of recent film that has that beautiful cinematic 'touch'.
Other directors participating in the film include David Lynch, Jean-Luc Godard, Francis-Ford Coppola, Sam Mendes, Darren Arronofsky and David Fincher.
This can be done over the phone or via email. My deadline for the piece is April 15th, 4pm EST.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.
The director forwarded the interview request to his staff and asked them to set up a phone interview with Webber. After reading the email, Haggis' team did some research on Webber, but were unable to find any Time articles by someone with that name. The writer-director's team followed up with Time's entertainment editors, who said they didn't assign that piece and that Webber doesn't work for them.
After investigating where the email originated, Haggis' team discovered that the email was sent from a computer at 5165 Fountain Avenue in Los Angeles. The structure, known as the Anthony Building, is supposedly owned by the Church of Scientology and the Yahoo email account was created on April 1, just days before the interview request was sent.
Haggis' staff reached out to Webber again to try to verify that he was writing a piece for Time magazine but never heard back.
Haggis believes that the person who reached out to him was a Scientology spy. TonyOrtega.org first reported on this incident.
A rep for the Church says it "knows nothing about this."
"There is no one with that name at that address, there is no such IP address at the Anthony Building on Fountain Avenue, it does not exist," the rep added. "The entire story is fabricated."
The Crash director told Ortega that Webber's pitch isn't the first time the Church of Scientology has reached out to him. In an email he sent to the former Village Voice editor, Haggis recalled when Scientology previously posed an interview:
The last time this happened to me was when I was told (only after I arrived) that I had offended Tom Cruise by telling a joke to Steven Spielberg — and it was Greg Wilhere, second in charge of the church, who had me in that small room, with his back to the door, and wouldn’t let me leave until I wrote a suitably contrite letter to Tom. And Tommy Davis and staff were outside waiting. After that incident I never again agreed to an interview — unless they came to me, which they did in 2009. Nine senior executives showed up to try and persuade me to tear up my letter of resignation and leave quietly, or face the consequences.
So given that background, what could they gain by “interviewing me” under this pretense?
Several years ago I was contacted by Scientology’s Freedom magazine. They were enraged by the New Yorker article and demanded that I agree to be interviewed by them. I asked them to send me their questions; they did. While some of the questions were quite ludicrous, I answered them all — and said I would gladly return it to them. I only had one condition, they had to publish the interview unedited. They would not agree to that, so it ended there.
I stipulated this because Scientology is infamous for taking and using quotes out of context — as you have no doubt seen in all the of the various attack pieces they have produced on everyone involved with Going Clear. They even do this with photographs, wildly doctoring them to change the intent or circumstances. By way of example, they constantly use a photo of me in an orange prison jump suit, and refer to me as the “hypocrite of Hollywood.”
They fail to mention that this is extracted from a photograph taken by Amnesty International, in which actors Mark Ruffalo, Martin Sheen, and I were asked to don the suits in order to protest endless incarceration without due process of law at Guantanamo. Mark and Martin mysteriously disappeared from the photo — I’m sure an unintended oversight by Mr. Miscavige — and the impression given is that, at one time or another, I was a long-time guest of the federal prison system.
So is that what this was? An attempt to press me for some “quote” that they could twist to fit the needs of their prestigious magazine? Or just general fishing. I don’t honestly know what they thought they could gain. But try they did.
April 18, 7:06 a.m. This story has been updated with the Church of Scientology's response.