Is poor John Travolta embroiled in a potentially career-ruining maelstrom of sex, lies, Scientology and financial disaster? As of last night, the answer is “definitely maybe.”

News and entertainment outlets are abuzz with the news about John Travolta’s new Gotti biopic being sold by its distributor (Lionsgate), back to the producers (Emmett/Furla/Oasis).  Or, potentially, the producers buying the film back from the distributor.  Reshuffling distribution rights isn’t an odd occurrence in the movie business.  It is an odd move 15 days before a massively hyped release.

So far, clear explanations for this unusual move have not been offered by any of the parties involved.  Nonetheless, if there’s anything we’ve learned since Harvey Weinstein violated the virtue of, among untold numbers of women, a potted plant, we know that where there’s smoke there’s fire.  Or, if you prefer, where there’s a constantly rumor-besieged Scientologist, there’s shenanigans.

What kind of shenanigans?  All we can do is make educated guesses.  Unfortunately, our collective education has been at a graduate degree level as of late when it comes to weird and sudden moves, speculation, and decisions that appear to be counterproductive for the parties involved. Here are a few reasons Lionsgate may have shimmied out of their deal in such a hurry:

  • When a major distributor like Lionsgate lets go of a film so close to release, it loses the potential for major financial gain.   They got into the deal so they could make a mint off a project as juicy as a mob film helmed by the always interesting Travolta. Unloading the project has to be less financially damaging than releasing it. Ergo, there’s something damaging about the movie, Lionsgate (more men behaving abominably?), or the film’s star (another man behaving abominably?).
  • Maybe the problem is with the producers. It’s a major hassle to find new distribution for a movie. It’s also a major screw-up to devote millions of dollars to marketing a film and then shelve it, requiring another hugely expensive marketing push whenever the film does get released (if it does).  Why would the producers exercise their buy-back clause when, yet again, the decision has major financial ramifications? Did someone from Emmett/Fula/Oasis get too intimate with a ficus?
  • Perhaps, and this is the front-runner of current rumors, the star is to blame. John Travolta has been besieged by damning tales from Hollywood for years. Make that decades.  If they are all true, here’s what the Travolta problem amounts to:
  1. He’s a (barely) closeted bisexual or homosexual. No problems there. Unfortunately, Kevin Spacey has taught us that the attendant shame and fear of being a gay leading man in Hollywood can exacerbate (NOT cause) dubious sexual behavior out of desperation.  Desperation and fear are terrible bed-partners, particularly when you’re trolling for a bed-partner.
  2. As a famously dedicated Scientologist, Travolta is on a pretty tight leash held by David Miscavige, the head of the Church of Scientology. David does not like it when anything creepy, weird, or sexually charged is said about the church. If you have any confusion about the way Miscavige runs his cult (which endorses sexual abuse of various kinds but just can’t stand the gays), now is the time to Google “Leah Remini.” Phase 2 of Remini’s career is dedicated to exposing the church for its violations against humanity.  If Travolta has been dallying with men in a way that has been substantiated, or, he’s gone the way of Spacey (hope not), Miscavige is losing his mind right now.
  3. The Church (cult) of Scientology is, to say the least, swimming in money. If anyone had to supply sudden cash to cover anything up about Travolta at the 11th hour, Miscavige is the one with the funds and the motive.
  • The wild card reason is the one I’m hoping is true. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the whole thing about the producers wanting wider distribution than Lionsgate was going to provide is true. And that they backed out of the deal knowing that the finances behind their odd move would even out is also true.

I’m an optimist.  I’m hoping that this is all a tempest in a teapot.  But knowing what I do about movies and money, I wouldn’t bank on it.

About Author

Lawyer, literary agent, book packager, film producer, writer, New Yorker. Likes long walks on the beach and little dogs. Hates mean people and when the pharmacy runs out of Klonopin.

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