With lots of buzz around today about Tom Cruise and Scientology, various sources emailed to remind me of some seminal local reporting in addition to the 1990 Sappell-Welkos series in the LAT. The late Ron Curran got inside the church for the LA Weekly in 1986, and the LAT's Robert Gillette and Robert Rawitch also had done a 20,000-word, five-part series in 1978 that was a Pulitzer finalist. The main local police reporter at the Times then, Nieson Himmel, had been a Pasadena roommate of L. Ron Hubbard in the pre-Dianetics days and always said that Hubbard used to boast the best way to get rich was to form a religion. "He was a guy on the make," Himmel was quoted saying. "I couldn't stand him." Himmel died in 1999.
* And of course: Mark Ebner joined the church for Spy magazine in 1996. 1:50 pm