John Travolta's Alien Notion

By Richard Leiby
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 28, 1999

MONTREAL ---- Something otherworldly is happening inside Hangar 12, something they're trying to keep secret. But we can tell you this much: John Travolta is involved, and so are space aliens.

Soldiers have secured the perimeter. "Warning: This establishment is under permanent surveillance by the military police," a sign says. Absolutely no trespassing, by order of Canada's minister of national defense.

But through the 10-foot-high chain-link fence topped with triple strands of barbed wire, you can spy pieces of weird aircraft. They look like menacing insects. Occasionally a large, hairy creature will amble into view.

It's only a movie, the authorities say. The Canadian military is simply renting a secure facility to Travolta and his film crew. Here is the official story:

Inside Hangar 12, they are making an $80 million sci-fi epic called "Battlefield Earth." Travolta, the co-producer, stars as a nine-foot-tall alien overlord with glowing amber eyes set in a grotesquely elongated head. He has hooklike talons for hands. "Planet of the Apes" meets "Star Wars": Travolta as you've never seen him before.

Okay. But what's the real story? At the end of the millennium, you can't believe press releases. On the Internet, startling allegations are flying: about an invasion fleet deployed from the Marcab Confederacy; about mind-control implant stations set up on Mars; about the parallels between the top-secret teachings of the Church of Scientology and the novel "Battlefield Earth" by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

So is "Battlefield Earth" a recruiting film for Scientology?

Nonsense, Travolta says. The movie, he keeps telling reporters, has absolutely, positively no connection to Scientology. No sirree.

Travolta's publicists refused several requests from The Washington Post to interview the star. See, he's already put it all on the record:

Since 1975 he has been a devotee of Scientology, an "applied religious philosophy" that claims millions of adherents. He credits Hubbard, the late science-fiction author, for all his worldly and spiritual successes. The actor believes that Hubbard's teachings and writings hold mankind's hope for salvation.

Travolta calls "Battlefield Earth" one of the most popular books published in this century. He has been trying to make it into a movie for 15 years. But until now, he's told reporters, he didn't have the Hollywood clout to do it. The film will be distributed and marketed with backing from two major studios--Morgan Creek Productions and Warner Bros.--and is scheduled to open next May.

"The truth of why I'm doing it is because it's a great piece of science fiction," Travolta has said. "This is not about him [Hubbard]. . . . I'm very interested in Scientology, but that's personal. This is different. This has nothing to do with Scientology."

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