For 13 years, actor Larry Anderson was the face of Scientology as star of the hilarious 40-minute conversion pic Orientation. Then he got out of the church. But what about the $150,000 he spent on E-meters and Scientology cruises?
We already know that a Scientology escapee will receive creepy, hand-written "come back" letters for decades. Which is annoying. But not as annoying as throwing away as much as the RNC paid for Sarah Palin's wardrobe and not even getting a Valentino jacket out of the deal.
Larry Anderson is probably best known to non-Scientologists as the guy who starred in the Knight Rider pilot before David Hasselhoff took over the role. (or maybe as a "Tarlac Officer" in Star Trek: Insurrection.) As a D- (F?) level actor, Anderson was perfect fodder for everyone's favorite celebrity-obsessed pricey pseudo-religion. He joined the Church in 1976, and in 1996 starred in the 40-minute conversion opus Orientation. He was also on the cover of Celebrity!
But Anderson lent more than his handsome face to the cause. Over 33 years, he estimates he spent as much as $150,000 on Scientology. Here is how he accomplished such a dumb thing, as reported by the St. Petersburg Times:
- Communications Course, $30: In 1976, Anderson visited the Church of Scientology's Celebrity Centre in Hollywood and signed up for a communications course, which was his gateway drug to Scientology.
- "Auditing" and course work, $100,000: Scientology of course revolves around sessions of "auditing" wherein students' emotions are measured with a fake device known as an "E-meter". Anderson put $100,000 on account at the Celebrity Centre, of which he spent about a third.
- Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization Account, $36,947: Scientology's spiritual headquarters is located in Clearwater, FL, and all adherents must receive training there if they hope to advance to "OT VI and OT VII" levels. Anderson says he never spent any of this money, because he never got his juju in the right shape to reach those levels, or whatever.
- Cruise Ship Freewinds, $11,400: Turns out that the only place to receive the highest level of Scientology training is on a conveniently expensive cruise ship. And Anderson put up the money—which he never used—in the expectation that he would reach the "OT VIII" level of Scientological glory.
- 18-volume set of Ron L. Hubbard's teachings, $3,000: It was the constant re-releasing of these books (due to 'stenographer errors') which appeared to push Anderson over the edge: ("These books were published 20 years before LRH died. How is it we're just discovering that stenographers made mistakes?") On the upside, they probably look great on the bookshelf next to your 31-volume Time-Life "Classics of the Old West" Series.
(Anderson actually made a bit of money off the Church as well—they paid him $35,000 for narrating Orientation.)
Now that he's out of the Church, Anderson wants to get his money back. And would you be surprised to learn the Church is more than a little reluctant to do this? Last February, Anderson met with Church spokesman Tom Davis and Katie Holmes' BFF Jessica Feshbach (Rodriguez)to try to get the $120,000 still remaining in his various Scientology accounts. Here's what they told him, according to excerpts of the recorded conversation Anderson provided to the St. Petersburg Times:
Look, here's the thing, Larry: You want your money back. We're willing to give you your money back—to a degree. But we also don't have to give you the money back, and you seem to have forgotten that. So we're just trying to work through some of these issues so we can help you get what you want and get what we want and everybody's fucking happy—excuse my language—everybody's happy, everybody's fine and you can go your separate way and do your thing. But the bottom line is, we don't have to give your money back.
11 months later and Anderson's still waiting for his money. (The Church claims that the money in the accounts was a "donation," so they have no obligation to pay it back.) At least he can take comfort in the fact that some of the cash is likely being used by John Travolta to give Haitians much-needed "purification rundowns".