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The Long Arm of Xenu: Scientology & Hollywood's Celebrity Centre

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The allure of the Celebrity Scientology Centre was too much for the New Yorker to resist. The history of the gothic castle at the corner of Bronson and Franklin leads to an interesting discussion of the religion and fits nicely into the build-up to the release of Andrew Morton's gravestone tell-all on Tom Cruise - now #2 Scientologist in the world! In a lonnng article, Dana Goodyear digs into the history of the former Chateau Élysée (it cost under a million dollars to build), looks into the spreading tentacles of Scientology's architectural interests, quotes a terrified Eric Garcetti, and highlights Kirstie Alley's Asian-infused interior design ethos.

Throughout the thirties and forties, the château was an industry hangout. Luminaries who stayed there include Errol Flynn, Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn, and Cary Grant, and the Church invokes its Hollywood lore proudly. In the reception area of the Renaissance hangs a framed menu from 1937 (creamed turnips, gooseberry cobbler, a filet-mignon dinner for a dollar-fifty), discovered in the attic by the building manager, Art Medeiros. “This was the dining room when Humphrey Bogart would’ve eaten here,” Medeiros told me. “This was the primo place in town.” It’s as if Falun Gong bought the Algonquin and advertised the gin Martinis that Dorothy Parker used to drink, but the Church’s emphasis on the entertainment industry has made the building’s transition to its current use seem almost logical. Ken Bernstein, the head of the city’s Office for Historic Resources, put it this way: “Celebrities equivalent to today’s Scientology celebrities—people who had that level of glamour and prestige—were significantly associated with that building.” · Chateau Scientology [The New Yorker]