In the season finale of the Netflix comedy series, The Kominsky Method, the grandson of Alan Arkin’s character, Norman, returns to the family after breaking away years prior because of his affiliation with the Church of Scientology. Robbie, played by Haley Joel Osment, banters with his grandfather using specific lingo like the MEST universe (matter, energy, space, and time) and Thetans (an immortal spiritual being). The pair even participate in a training exercise where they sit across from one another in total stillness.
The episode, titled “Chapter 16: A Thetan Arrives,” caught the attention of the former editor of The Village Voice, Tony Ortega, who now writes about the organization in his daily blog called The Underground Bunker. According to Ortega, in order for Chuck Lorre, the sole writer of the episode, to nail the lingo the way he did, he must have had prior experience with the Church of Scientology.
Who is Chuck Lorre?
Born Charles Michael Levine in 1952, Chuck Lorre is an American television writer, producer, director, and composer. He dropped out of college after two years to pursue a career as a songwriter. He changed his name to Lorre at the age of 26.
Lorre toured the U.S. as a guitarist and songwriter and then turned to write scripts for animated shows in the early 1980s. In the late 1980s, he began writing scripts for television sitcoms.
He was a writer and executive producer on the show Roseanne and then went on to create and produce Grace Under Fire, Dharma & Greg, Cybill, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mom, Disjointed, Young Sheldon, The Kominsky Method, and Bob Hearts Abishola. He also wrote and executive produced Mike & Molly.
The Kominsky Method won the Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy Television Series in 2019.
Does Chuck Lorre have Church of Scientology ties?
Immediately after the episode in question aired, Tony Ortega took to his blog to publish a detailed rundown of the Scientology-specific dialogue used and praised the writing for being remarkable. In his blog, he monitors breaking developments in Scientology around the world from an undisclosed location. He himself has never been involved in Scientology.
But, the television series made Ortega wonder about Lorre. He said that the only way Lorre could be familiar enough with the terms used by the Church of Scientology is if Lorre had personal experience with it.
Ortega tracked down musician Geoff Levin who said he knew Lorre in the 1970s when he was heavy into Scientology.
“He was introduced into the Scientology music community at Celebrity Centre and that’s when I first met him,” Levin said.
Levin added that he didn’t know what courses Lorre was involved with, but he knew that he was trained as an auditor. He thinks Lorre left the organization in the mid-1980s.
Was Chuck Lorre a Scientologist?
The Church of Scientology has Celebrity Centres, which are Scientology churches that are open to the general public but are reported to specifically target artists, sports figures, leaders of an industry, and politicians.
The organization feels that “the world is carried on the backs of a desperate few.” That desperate few refers to those with the power and vision to create a better world. The leaders believe that this group is lonely and subject to pressures that come with responsibility and prominence.
The Scientology website says that there is no shame in helping the artist as this is a means of advancing society. This would explain how Lorre got involved in the first place. He was having some success and the group reached out or appealed to him.
The Hollywood Reporter reached out to Lorre to ask him about the rumors of his involvement with Scientology. He responded simply that he did a lot of stupid things when he was young. Lorre said: “What can I say? I did a lot of stupid shit when I was young.”