television movies media

Charles Duhigg’s New York Times Podcast: “Change Agent”

2018-12-16T20:52:18-04:00March 8th, 2018|Blog, Media Reviews|

The "Change Agent" podcast is a five-episode series by The New York Times. It is hosted by Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author of "The Power of Habit" and "Smarter Faster Better." It uses real-life problems to try and solve a surprising story. (When we worked on the podcast last year, Duhigg was a senior editor, but since then he is no longer there.) The New York Times describes it "as a new five-part podcast series that turns obstacles into opportunities. Each episode unearths surprising stories from science and business to offer answers to people’s problems. [They] [...]

The Radicalization of Patty Hearst: Mind Control by the SLA, a Political Cult

2018-12-16T19:56:55-04:00February 14th, 2018|Blog|

The Radicalization of Patty Hearst: Mind Control by the SLA, a Political Cult CNN describes an alternative narrative to the radicalization of Patricia Hearst CNN has produced a special on the radicalization of Patricia Hearst, based on Jeffrey Toobin's 2016 book, American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst (See my 2016 blog). I watched the first two hours of the CNN special (Next Sunday is the next part). Unfortunately, my critical thoughts about the interview I heard and Toobin's book continue with this program. The show features SLA kidnapper of Patty, [...]

Former leader of white supremacy group and docuseries exposing hate needs to be aired!

2018-12-16T19:57:06-04:00August 14th, 2017|Blog|

Meet my friend, Arno Michaelis. He founded a hate band and was responsible for recruiting people into the cult of white supremacists. Like me, he has left that, and dedicated himself to educating people and helping people exit terrorist hate groups. Check out this Youtube video: Arno Michaelis · My Life After Hate: From There to Here After you watch this, here he is being interviewed on The View. In the second part of the View, Sikh Pardeep Kaleka and Arno talk about their work together. Pardeep's father, the President of a Sikh Temple in Minnesota was [...]

Undue Influence, The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu, and Current Events

2018-12-16T19:57:17-04:00May 16th, 2017|Blog, Current Events, Media Reviews|

Hulu has created a television series based on Margaret Atwood’s book, The Handmaid’s Tale, and it is highly recommended viewing*. Last year, Hulu produced The Path and I was interviewed by Vanity Fair for my perspective. This time, I am blogging about The Handmaid’s Tale as I believe this is a very upsetting but well made dramatic series that is worthwhile watching. It is especially disquieting for me as it is set in New England. A political cult takes over the U.S. after a staged terrorist attack and martial law is declared. When the book and the 1990 movie [...]

My Appearance on Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, and Other Updates

2018-12-16T21:11:33-04:00January 20th, 2017|Blog, News and Updates|

2017 is off to an exciting start! This Tuesday, January 17th, A&E’s Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath aired a special Reddit AMA show that I taped the week before along with Mike Rinder, Lawrence Wright (who wrote the book Going Clear that became an HBO documentary) and attorney Ray Jeffrey. Ray successfully represented former top FLAG executive Debbie Cook and her husband in a lawsuit brought by Scientology. After Ray put Debbie Cook on the stand in open court and she started recounting the horrific abuse, Scientology wisely dropped the suit and settled for an undisclosed amount of [...]

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

2019-02-13T10:52:45-04:00December 2nd, 2016|Blog, Media Reviews|

When I first heard that Leah Remini planned to make a show about Scientology, I was cautiously optimistic. Not that many celebrities have been brave enough to share their stories, much less want to really go further than the HBO Going Clear documentary. After watching the first episode, I am happy to say that Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath is professionally done and extremely thoughtful. It presents a lot of useful information in a short time. Please watch it and tell everyone on your social network to watch it too. I highly recommend it not just for those [...]

Holy Hell Documentary Shows How Cult Leader Raped Followers for Years

2018-12-16T19:57:48-04:00September 29th, 2016|Blog, Media Reviews|

Imagine spending over twenty-two years of your life believing you are one of the select few who knows the secrets of the universe-- only to discover the world that you live in is really a brainwashing cult. This is the story behind Holy Hell. Will Allen, the filmmaker who made this documentary from 20 years of recording cult activities, woke up and decided to expose his former guru. How did this happen? Jaime Gomez is the real name of founder and leader of Buddhafield. He started as a wannabe Hollywood actor and small-time gay porn star. After [...]

Roger Ailes, FOX News, Right-Wing Talk Shows, and Undue Influence Techniques

2018-12-16T19:58:04-04:00August 19th, 2016|Blog, Media Reviews|

Fox News channel boss Roger Ailes was recently forced to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment. The suit, filed by Gretchen Carlson, has opened up a window into what was apparently a pervasive work culture of discrimination, intimidation, and harassment. Back in 1996, Roger Ailes teamed up with Rupert Murdoch to create Fox News as a right-wing propaganda juggernaut. Apparently Bill Shine, an insider, will take over but the entertainment/news/right-wing approach will seemingly stay the same. Now there are news reports that Ailes will be involved in coaching Donald Trump in his bid to become President. I recently watched a [...]

A Cult Expert Reviews the Movie “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

2018-12-16T19:58:30-04:00April 9th, 2016|Blog, Media Reviews|

Last night, I went to see Martha Marcy May Marlene, the new movie about a woman who runs away from a destructive cult. Writer/director Sean Durkin has clearly done his homework. His film gets so much so right. It provides such a clear window into a lot of the psychological themes of cult indoctrination—deceptive recruitment, incremental cognitive-behavioral techniques to inculcate the new cult identity—it was almost painful to watch. At the same time, the film does not go far enough—the behaviors are portrayed but not explained or ever resolved by Martha. As a former cult member myself, I worry [...]

Thoughts on HBO’s Going Clear Documentary

2018-12-16T19:58:11-04:00March 30th, 2015|Blog, Media Reviews|

I watched the two-hour HBO "Going Clear" documentary last night and wanted to share some immediate thoughts. First of all. Wow! It was very intense and will hopefully wake up the public to the power and danger of the Scientology cult. In particular, I welcome the call to action to revoke its tax exemption status (something I do not believe it should have ever acquired). In 2010, I wrote a blog piece calling for tax exemption revocation of Scientology, when high-profile leaders like Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder started sharing their inside stories. Super kudos to all of the [...]