Scientology: Bad for business?

Ever since the days of Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood studios have worried about how the personal affairs of their stars would affect their business. The first impulse was always to cover up. But when you couldn’t do that, you ran away.

The canning of Tom Cruise is unusually and perhaps refreshingly public. Paramount mogul Sumner Redstone told the Journal that he was firing Cruise for acting crazy and stumping for Scientology.

This morning on Howard Stern, Elijah Blue Allman talked about Scientology since his mom, Cher, dated the young Mr. Cruise and since Sonny Bono was also a Scientologist. Allman said it started as an effort to have a Hollywood version of the Masons: a club with a secret handshake. But clearly, it is more than that. I wonder, though, whether stars will start tiptoeing away if the realize that their “religion” could cost them at the box office.

I would like to think that we have reached the end of our cultural rope with stars acting crazy and all their entourages being afraid to tell them they’re nuts. Tom Cruise. Michael Jackson. Mel Gibson. I’d like to think that, but I doubt it.

: LATER: Nikki Finke gets mad a Paramount for urging the dogs on. I disagree. It’s time for Hollywood to start expecting sanity.

: LATER STILL: The HuffingtonPost continues its surprisingly rousing defense of Scientology.

And just what are the scornable consequences that Scientology has fostered?

That car bomb planted by Sunni insurgents in Iraq against innocent Shia?
The Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms, the Holocaust?
The atrocities committed against Christians and animists in the Sudan?
The wars between Hindu and Buddhist in Sri Lanka?
The several decades of religious wars in Northern Ireland?
The mutual bloodshed in Lebanon?

Oh, and was it Scientologists who flew planes into the World Trade Center?