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Photos: Inside Scientology's Insane New Movie Studio
In 2011, KCET sold its Silver Lake production studio to the Church of Scientology for a reported sum of $45 million, Current reported. There were speculations as to what Tom Cruise and co. were going to do with the space. Now, we know that the space will be used as a sort of massive communications hive mind, or Scientology Media Productions (SMP), according to The Daily Mail.
The giant complex finally opened on May 28 after five years of renovations that set back the church $50 million. At the opening ceremony, replete with set design seemingly done by the people who styled The Power Rangers, a ton of people showed up to see church leader David Miscavige outline the goals of the production complex. According to The Daily Mail, Miscavige said that the complex will be a "global media center" that will send its "uncorrupted communication line to the billions" and reach "virtually every person on earth," which is a totally fine and not-scary thing to say. He also said that efforts to reach out to a younger generation via social media will be among the studio's top priorities.
In a statement, the church said that "now Scientology Media Productions IS the media." Again, a totally not-scary thing to say.
Likewise, SMP is expected to produce content for every platform under the sun, from film, to TV news, to print magazines. According to the Daily Mail, the church claims that the space has bigger studios and sound stages than Paramount Pictures, and Tom Cruise is expected to film parts of his summer blockbusters at the premises (am I hearing rumors of a Cocktail sequel?). SMP will also be rolling out 24/7 news coverage, and will serve as base of operations for the church's magazine, Freedom, which makes a point of bashing every other publication and media outlet in existence (we're still waiting for their exposé on LAist).
Critics of the church didn't take long to rain on Scientology's parade. Mike Rinder, a former Scientologist who grew disillusioned with Miscavige, and who featured prominently in the HBO doc Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, told the The Daily Mail that SMP is "just a fundraising ploy, to buy real estate, to persuade people to give them money." Well, looks like you won't find Rinder on the studio tram ride!
You may have passed by the big (but unassuming) building countless times. It's right behind Tiki Ti on the block by Sunset Boulevard and N. Virgil Avenue. As to when, exactly, content will start rolling out, that remains to be seen. When inquired on Facebook about its news channel, the church's social media handlers said "...putting together 24/7 content for broadcast is a formidable task, but one that is now underway! Follow us here for updates."