Yesterday's LAT audited FX series Nip/Tuck's attention-grabbing decision to have two of its characters respond to emotional enturbulation by seeking solace in the welcoming bosom of L. Ron Hubbard*, an instantly controversial storyline that creator/provocateur Ryan Murphy and network executives insist is rooted in a genuine curiosity about the religion, not a cynical attempt to court publicity or for e-meter-related gag potential. (Accordingly, their choice to cast Tom Cruise nemesis and postpartum antidepressant street-drug prescribee Brooke Shields as a psychiatrist was purely coincidental, based solely on the fact that the actress had always "felt psychiatristy" to Murphy.) But for someone who's obviously taking great public pains to present Scientology in a non-judgmental, unbiased light, FX's president still sounds a little spooked by the Church's possible overreaction to their ecumenical explorations:
So far, no one from the church has contacted FX or Murphy. Repeated phone calls to the church by the Los Angeles Times were not returned.
"I think I would have serious questions about whether we want to essentially go to battle against any religion. I don't think that's where any business ought to be," [FX president and general manager John ] Landgraf said. "The flip side of that is that if Ryan's writing something that's creatively valid and it's creatively balanced, I don't think it serves the interests of the religion to somehow personally attack Ryan, or me, or one of the actors. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I guess time will tell."
It's a shrewd strategy for Landgraf to warn the notoriously touchy Church that nothing would be accomplished by attacking their valid and balanced portrayal, hoping that such a challenge will almost certainly catch the attention Scientology's Truth In Media Technicians** and prompt a response; he'll laugh quietly to himself when a bullhorn-wielding Jenna Elfman, waiting for him by the entrance of the Fox Tower parking garage, launches into the litany of accusations in her Baby Rape Inventory***, knowing that this week's episode of Nip/Tuck is going to virtually promote itself.
[*This is exactly the kind of gratuitous punchline that FX will strenuously avoid.]
[** This one too.]
[*** At this point, there's no way we could avoid the too-easy Jenna Elfman joke. We are so weak.]