• Principal senior executive: Ronald’s claims are absurd, because “we treated him with respect and tried to help him”


    A letter to St. Martin’s Press from Henning Benndorf, Senior Vice President, Golden Era Productions

    Henning Benndorf
    Henning Benndorf
     

    It has come to my attention that Ronald Miscavige is writing a “memoir” but that it is not about his life (and how could it be—who would want to read about the life of a trumpet player in a Church band?) but about his son, the head of our Church. I am writing this letter to expose just how false Ronald’s story is about the time he worked at Golden Era Productions.

    I am a principal senior executive of Gold, the audio-visual film production department of Church of Scientology International. I am also a musician, artist and visual effects artist with an excellent reputation in Hollywood.

    Ronald was in a category by himself—the ultimate example of someone who would not work and who wasted people’s time.   

    Of the hundreds of staff I had under my supervision at Golden Era Productions—musicians, cinematographers, directors, actors, artists, grips, sets persons, mixers, administrative and human resources personnel—you name it—none came close to Ronald for his refusal to follow procedure or help the group to be successful. Ronald was in a category by himself—the ultimate example of someone who would not work and who wasted people’s time. Of course, I regret that I gave him so many chances, owing to my respect for his son, the leader of the religion. I never wanted Ronald to be a problem to his son and it was my desire to keep Ronald from being a problem for others in general. He just is that type of person.

    When I visited the Music department during my routine inspections, I would find Ronald idle most of the time. He was constantly found to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and spent an inordinate amount of time standing in the kitchenette eating something or preparing something to eat. I’d see him spend a lot of time with the Pastry Chef in our A+ professional kitchen, preparing desserts when he was supposed to be playing music! Frankly, he was the most uncooperative staff member I ever dealt with and saying that he wasn’t “fulfilling his obligations” is an understatement.

    Ronald’s favorite refrain was to say he was “too old to create modern music” as an excuse to do whatever the hell he wanted. Who knows what this even meant. After all, we produce films with all types of music—jazz, classical, rock—you name it. So why Ronald couldn’t simply work on things he could produce was a mystery to us all.

    We have a saying in Sweden, Om man ger någon ett finger vill han ha hela handen. In English it’s give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile, meaning someone inclined to take of the generosity of others for his own benefit not caring about the other guy. That fits Ronald to a “T”.

    I remember so many instances of Ronald goofing off when we were working to produce religious training films:

    • In the middle of a day the band was recording, there would be Ronald carrying a plate with Polish sausage which he had gotten from his son or something. He was simply trying to buy off any executive he could so his idleness wouldn’t be taken up. Of course, I didn’t appreciate it. I just thought he was as lazy as they come, simply not working as part of the band.
    • Ronald had an exceptionally whiny attitude, much like what I hear he is putting in his book. He never paid attention to what was happening in the rest of the band, much less the rest of Golden Era Productions. I remember one time we were upgrading the studio with top-of-the-line high-end equipment, all to increase the quality of sound reproduction. All the other band members and mixers were ecstatic. They lent a hand in installation, but not Ronald. He said he had to go home early—a schedule he’d been on for the twenty years I knew him—and that he didn’t have any time during the day as he was “busy” constantly complaining about the music he wasn’t scoring or sitting next to the Music Director to watch music being scored.
    • Ronald complaining about how he could never get a music score approved by the Musical Director was an act. He rarely tried and was, instead, perfectly happy to have an “excuse” to do nothing. He wanted “special treatment” and to be pampered and sympathized with for his “shortcomings” which was actually laziness. I remember the time the band was scoring all the music for a new service. It was 4-5 hours of music. The band worked tirelessly with the Director to score, arrange and produce music that was fitting for these services. Ronald wouldn’t even get involved, saying he was working on an arrangement for another project. When all that new music was approved the whole band celebrated. Ronald sulked and then took off shortly thereafter. It only made sense to me in hindsight why that would be: he didn’t want the band to do well.
    • He always demanded special attention. Besides complaining to seniors, he was complaining to the Medical Liaison Officer constantly and demanded he get special treatment time and time again, more than any other staff member. He was on special schedules, got special attention, etc. I remember one time he went off to have a very minor hernia operation, meaning it could have been scheduled for any time as there was nothing urgent about it. Despite the fact that it was in the middle of an extremely busy time period for us, he was given the time to do this operation.
    • I remember one time he was going out with the band and he started some sort of side business (spelled s-c-a-m) selling mail order laundry soap. We had to get him reined in as this was completely in violation of Church policy on staff activities. He acted like it was a mistake.
    • I remember in 2003 when the National Church of Scientology of Spain in Madrid was about to open. Thousands and thousands of people showed up and this interested the Madrid police and they were trying to handle the traffic of cars and people to avoid accidents and commotion. I was standing at the front of the stage with Ronald at the time and saw a group of police officers coming towards the stage. Ronald told me that the cops will probably try and shut us down and said that he was going to “fake an accident”—in other words, Ronald would pretend that he had a bad leg or something and fall over and, so he thought, the cops would not shut down the event. I was very surprised by his criminal view and dishonest attitude of how to handle police that were doing their jobs for public safety. The event was held and it was totally fine with no problems with anybody.
    • I remember another time when he got himself arrested for reckless driving. He nearly got himself thrown in jail because he resisted arrest, continued driving even when a police car was in pursuit and when he finally pulled over he was rude to the arresting officer. For me, this was what you would call a problem. Never before (or since) had we had any staff member arrested. And here he was getting arrested and talking crap to the police officer. It required quite a bit of assistance to keep him out of jail including hiring an attorney and then making sure he did his community service. I never have seen a staff member so resistive to following the laws of the land. Even after the arrest, he would still say it “wasn’t a big deal” when it most certainly was.
    • I also remember all the vacations he was given, so he could see his family. He used to piggyback time off as the band traveled, which certainly was to his advantage as he didn’t have to pay transport or anything. We generally give staff a single vacation a year, but Ron would usually get two or three, depending on where the band was traveling and when. If he complains to you about this, remember to ask him as I have the details from our internal staff.

    The amount of upset Ronald could create from his argumentative relationship style was intolerable. It got so bad the Music Director didn’t want to deal with Ronald at all. The Music Director had done everything he could to help Ronald, giving him assignments, tutorials, assistance, you name it. Ronald rejected all of it, and really blamed the Music Director for even trying. I remember a few times when I had to go to the Music department to get Ronald out of the scoring rooms so that we could produce at all because he was upsetting and distracting the rest of the team. The time spent to get him helped from our Human Resources personnel was mindboggling. But no matter what they did, Ronald never intended to get with it. The time and energy could’ve been spent on another willing staff member instead.

    We treated Ronald with respect and tried to help him. We went out of our way to provide him assistance so he could have a good life as he was getting on in age. We had long since gotten to the point that we didn’t even mind when he would idle as we had gotten used to it after all those years. Further, I knew it would be better than causing trouble to others.

    In summary, Ronald was a distraction to production, always demanding special attention and treatment, while producing very little. He didn’t care about anybody but himself. 

    I have heard that he makes the absurd claim that he wanted some sort of leave of absence. As the executive responsible for Gold while Ronald was here, I can tell you this is pure fantasy on his part. Ronald understood that in the Sea Organization, we take care of our staff. We have staff that are in their 90s and we care for them without question. We always work to make their quality of life as good as possible and adjust it depending on their physical ability. For Ronald to pretend that he should have been given some sort of vacation due to his body is laughable. Other than being one of those people that is always worrying about his health, only to be informed he is as sound as can be when checked out, I never had a concern. And believe me, I would have known as I wanted the best for Ronald given who his son was, despite his poor performance.

    In summary, Ronald was a distraction to production, always demanding special attention and treatment, while producing very little. He didn’t care about anybody but himself, while attempting to gain special services by name dropping while being the rudest and most selfish person I ever met.

    I have had the honor of working on Audio-Visual production for the Church for over a quarter of a century and have seen the transformation of the Church under the Church leader. I am proud to have supported him. He is a consummate professional and expert not only in our religion but also in the areas of sound of film production, from which Golden Era has benefited handsomely. Not only did Ronald not have the kinds of access he glibly claims now, but he’s proof that great people do not depend on a family relation to achieve greatness.

    Should you intend to go ahead and publish a “memoir” by Ronald that fails to include his experience with me, his principal executive for a majority of his life, you’ll know he’s simply forwarding a false story in order to attack his former religion out of spite or for profit (or likely both—based on my experience with him).

    Regards,

    Henning Benndorf
    Senior VP President