Idol Chatter

John Travolta and Tom Cruise aren’t the only Scientology fans in Tinsel Town. In an article titled “Why Scientology is Good For Hollywood,” design writer Alissa Walker praises the organization for sustaining architectural landmarks in the area’s seedy downtown. “With seemingly little self-awareness, Scientology has become the unofficial pioneer of Hollywood’s gentrification movement,” Walker writes. The old Guaranty Building, above, a 1920s Beaux Arts gem where gossip columnist Hedda Hopper had her office, houses Scientology’s headquarters, while nearby the historic Hotel Christie sports a half-block-long SC-I-E-N-T-O-L-O-G-Y sign. But, says Walker, ” The crown jewel of Scientology’s heirlooms is the Chateau Elysee, a 1929 replica of a 17th century French chateau now known as the Celebrity Centre International.

To get a glimpse of the chateau’s interior, Walker hazards a tour of the Celebrity Centre, even allowing her e-meter readings to be taken for a chance to see the building’s fabled garden. “Maybe, I thought, in Scientology speak, architectural renovation serves as a stirring metaphor for spiritual rebirth. As students of Scientology ascend the Bridge towards total self-determinism, maybe they also climb the architectural ranks,” she says, “the penthouse of the Chateau Elysee tantalizing them along with their dreams of becoming level-seven Operating Thetans.”

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