Friday, August 24, 2007

Two different Jamie Kennedy's and their views on cults

This sketch led by "cult leader" Jamie Kennedy for his show, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment is absolutely hysterical.

Jamie Kennedy Experiment - Bliss Cult

Just another bit of comedy, to break up some of the more serious posts.

Ironically, a different Jamie Kennedy, who now goes by Jamie DeWolf, has also been critical of cults, in his slam poetry piece entitled: "Judas' Son."

Here is Jamie DeWolf, on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show:

Scientology: L. Ron Hubbard's Great-Grandson


Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Invasion, "cultism" and Werner Erhard

The movie The Invasion starring Nicole Kidman came out recently, and it is most intriguing that in film reviews in two different publications, both made reference to Werner Erhard in comparisons to the creepy nature of the film about an alien invasion.

The Cleveland Free Times, Film Picks, Volume 15, Issue 16, August 22, 2007 :
"Philip Kaufman's superb 1978 reimagining took the pod people into the age of self-help gurus like Werner Erhard."

Los Angeles City Beat, Concept Snatchers, August 23, 2007:
"Siegel’s film was an instant classic, so there was a lot of skepticism when Philip Kaufman decided to remake it in 1978. While few thought Kaufman managed to top the original, he at least refashioned the story to comment on specific elements of the era. Communism was no longer the threat, but rather cultism: In the film’s terms, Karl Marx was less scary than Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Werner Erhard."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Press connects Landmark Education to Werner Erhard's EST

Most interesting that even today's news articles frequently refer to Landmark Education as the "successor" to, or "descended from" Werner Erhard's EST training, "The Forum", etc. Here are some articles that do just that, from The New York Times, and the Toronto Star :

You Don’t Know Jack, The New York Times, August 17, 2007
"Late that summer, a dreamy friend asked me to join him in Landmark Forum, the successor to EST, Werner Erhard’s New Age group seminars."

Questions over Tory forum, Toronto Star, August 17, 2007
"Landmark Education, the San Francisco organization descended from Werner Erhard's 1970's-era EST, held a 90-minute session as part of the Conservative Leadership Foundation conference. "

Here are some blog posts related to the latter story :

John Tory on Landmark Education and Howard Hampton on making cities' dreams come true - Queer-Liberal

*&%#&*& Landmark Forum at Tory Conference - The Duncan Fremlin Blog

'Ridiculous' to invite controversial group to Tory forum, says PC party member - Fuddle-Duddle

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Death of Jack Slee

Died during an est Training :

James "Jack" Slee died on August 14, 1983, while standing on the stage of the Park Plaza Hotel's Grand Ballroom in New Haven, Connecticut. When the first responders arrived in the form of the New Haven fire rescue squad, the firefighters were initially prevented from entering the ballroom to treat Slee.

A $5 million lawsuit filed by Slee's family in 1984 was decided by a federal Jury in Connecticut, in October 1992. Though the jury did find Werner Erhard and his company had been negligent and caused Jack Slee severe emotional distress, they ruled that the est training did not "proximately cause" Slee's death. (Pressman 210)

Earlier, in November 1983, the Connecticut State Medical Examiner's office cited emotional stress as a factor in Slee's death: "Mr. Slee collapsed in a situation in which high emotional stress could be expected. Such emotional stress may have neural and hormonal effects which are deleterious to cardiac rhythm.." (Pressman 208)

Additional resources:

James Slee article on

The death of Jack Slee, est participant, August 14, 1983 - excerpted from Steven Pressman's book: Outrageous Betrayal, The Dark Journey of Werner Erhard from est to Exile. See also more excerpts from the book Outrageous Betrayal: Enlightenment in Two Weekends - The est Training, and A Door to Door Mind Salesman.

Slee v. Erhard 7 F.3d 220 (1993) - United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Google News Archives search, newspaper articles (1984 - 1991)

See also archived news articles:

The Chronicle Telegram, September 23, 1984, Elyria, Ohio

The Daily Intelligencer, September 23, 1984, Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Syracuse Herald-Journal, September 24, 1984, Syracuse, New York

The Capital, September 24, 1984, Annapolis, Maryland


"New Age guru dogged by worldly troubles Est founder Werner Erhard unfound, leaving trail of innuendo and accusations", April 28, 1991, Elizabeth Fernandez, Dallas Morning News

Thursday, August 09, 2007

"The Secret" - David Schirmer exposed

This is an investigation into one of the individuals that appeared on the motivational DVD, "The Secret." The investigation was done by Australia's Channel Nine on the program A Current Affair, with correspondent Ben Fordham, and so far appears in three segments.

Note: Previous post on related topic in blog post entitled "The Secret... Cult?"

Part One - "The Secret Exposed", May 28, 2007:

Part Two - "The Secret Con", June 1, 2007:

Part Three - The Secret's David Schirmer Under Investigation:

More news coverage:

"Trading Secrets", July 14, 2007, PerthNow, The Sunday Times
"In another development, the only Australian motivational speaker to feature in The Secret, investment guru David Schirmer, is under investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. It follows a report by A Current Affair, which raised serious questions over his business dealings and discovered a long line of unpaid and disgruntled investors."

Other related sites:

"The Truth About David Schirmer" - Some informative pieces, from July 2007

Get Rich Quack: David Schirmer of The Secret - Get Rich Slowly

Monday, August 06, 2007

"brain washing in a godless big business cult"

Note: That is the original title by the Youtube video blogger, "sablechicken". It is a most interesting and touching, moving, and inspiring video.

It will be most interesting to see how Youtube will affect exposing controversial groups, movements, and dangerous large group awareness training programs - as it becomes easier and more prevalent for individuals to post their experiences and thoughts online in a video format.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Eagle Island Films and the Werner Erhard "documentary"

Recently, a film has been shown in New York City, called: Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard.

The film was produced by two production companies: Robyn Symon Productions, which is the production company of the film's director, and a lesser known company, callling itself " Eagle Island Films ". In addition, much of the material in the film is copyrighted by, you guessed it - Landmark Education!

For those interested, more information has come out regarding just exactly who was behind the production of the film. On the film's web site, the film credits " Symon Productions, Inc. and Eagle Island Films " -- However, this mysterious company " Eagle Island Films " seems to have only produced one film, namely, this one. Here is an interesting chain of events related to Werner Erhard's attorney:

March 3, 1991 -- Werner Erhard is investigated by " 60 Minutes " - and the program airs on CBS.
More Allegations Against est Founder -
The Chronicle Publishing Co. / March 5, 1991

April 1992 - Walter Maksym, attorney for Werner Erhard, represents Erhard in lawsuits which involve 20 defendants from the media/press. San Jose Mercury News Tuesday, April 7, 1992 Est Founder sues critics; suit names Mercury News writer

San Jose Mercury News - Tuesday, April 7, 1992 - Est Founder sues critics; suit names Mercury News writer - Mercury News Staff Report (excerpted)

"Werner Erhard, controversial founder of the self-improvement program known as est, has filed a wide-ranging defamation lawsuit against 20 defendants, including a Mercury News staff writer, news media, commercial publications and private groups that have criticized Erhard or his teachings...During the "60 Minutes" report, one of Erhard's daughters told CBS that her father had molested her. While Erhard did not appear on the program, CBS aired portions of Hubner's taped interview, in which Erhard denied the incest allegations...Erhard's attorney, Walter Maksym of Illinois, could not be reached for comment."

1992 - Breakthru Publishing, same publisher that published Diets Don't Work, publishes 60 Minutes and the Assassination of Werner Erhard, (and the Diets Don't Work, Inc. company has Walter Maksym as president)

2006 - Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard film - with production companies Robyn Symon Productions and also Eagle Island Films - with Walter Maksym president and executive producer of Eagle Island Films - and Walter Maksym having once represented Erhard in suits against 20 defendants in media/press about very same story.

John Marshall Law Schook Briefcase, Fall 2006, Vol. 6, Issue 2

"Walter Maksym is executive producer of the upcoming film "STASH," set in Chicago. Maksym is president of Walter Maksym Publishing, president of Diets Don't Work, Inc. and president and executive producer of Eagle Island Films."

The Internet Movie Database also lists Walter Maksym as the executive producer of "Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard", and lists Eagle Island Films as one of the two production companies.

Does it not seem very strange at the least, that a man that represented Werner Erhard in lawsuits against CBS and 20 defendants related to this "60 Minutes" investigation, has now come to be the Executive Producer of this mysterious " Eagle Island Films " - that has now produced a film describing these self-same events???