We're not sure what prompted them but the NYTimes have just posted an article on "The Master," despite having very little new information on the film. The main thrust seems to be the parallels to Scientology -- which isn't exactly news since the first screenplay has been floating around for years -- but there are a few juicy second-hand sources that make it a pretty good read. Paul is still declining to speak publicly about the film and security around the production is very tight.
Somewhere in Los Angeles Mr. Anderson, 41, is now finishing what will be his sixth feature film. Fiercely protective of his process, he has declined to speak publicly about the movie. But the details suggest a story inspired by the founding of Scientology, and that has provoked industry whispers. With that church’s complicated Hollywood ties and high-profile adherents like Tom Cruise, a film even loosely based on it will guarantee discussion upon its release, on Oct. 12, by the Weinstein Company.Even the headline, "Filmmaker’s Newest Work Is About ... Something, Paul Thomas Anderson Film May Be About Scientology," is hilariously vague but we've parsed out there are a few bits of info for those of you (like us) who are news starved on the project.
1. During filming, the project was referred to as “untitled western.”
2. Budget was approx. $30 million making it "larger, perhaps" in scope than "There Will Be Blood" (which had a $25 million price tag).
3. Joaquin Phoenix's character is now called Freddie Quell (was previously Freddie Sutton). He also shares "accidental similarities" with Paul’s father. "The elder Anderson was a Navy vet who served in the Pacific during World War II, and, like Quell, was born about 90 years ago."
4. For the character of The Master (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Paul took inspiration from "the personalities behind cults and religious and pop psychology movements with roots in California. Those have included Aimee Semple McPherson, who used radio to evangelize in the 1920s; Werner Erhard, whose est movement swept California in the 1970s; and Jim Jones of San Francisco, whose followers drank the cyanide-laced Flavor Aid (not Kool-Aid) in 1978."
5. The Church Of Scientology is not publicly speaking out against the film. A rep says, "The Church only knows about the film what it has read in the press,” and “We have not seen the film, so can’t say one way or another.”
6. Some have speculated that the suicides of "Punch-Drunk Love" artist Jeremy Blake and his girlfriend Theresa Duncan in 2007 prompted PTA to write the film. (They were allegedly harassed by Scientologists.) But a friend of Paul's says, “It’s been in his head for years and years and years, probably 12 years,” meaning around 2000/post-"Magnolia" era.
7. Bill Pohlad, the Minneapolis film financier who had backed "The Tree Of Life," provided "interim support while the filmmaker’s crew scouted locations and otherwise prepared to shoot a movie" but "never intended to finance" the film. As we all know, Megan Ellison (and her Annapurna Pictures shingle) came to the rescue.
8. Perhaps most intriguingly, the film has evolved.
People on its periphery say the picture evolved, even as Mr. Anderson shot it.The Potomac, which figures as Dodd’s yacht, is grander than the converted cattle trawler once described in Mr. Anderson’s script, though perhaps closer to Hubbard’s Apollo, on which he cruised in the 1970s.The mansion in Vallejo feels more imposing than what in the script is called Helen’s House, the suburban home of a follower, played by Ms. Dern, who is party to some of the Master’s deeper secrets.In any case, those secrets will present challenges when the film is screened.
Tomorrow we will find out if the film will be making an unexpected debut at the Cannes Film Festival in a few weeks and whether Cigs&Vines will be attempting to book a very expensive last minute flight...
Check out our updated "The Master" cast and follow the entire history of the project here.
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