Werner Erhard 1970sLandmark Education, the mass marathon training company founded by 1970s self-styled seminar guru Werner Erhard (a.k.a. “Jack” Rosenberg), has apparently permanently left France and shut down its branch there.

But why?

Can it be that this for-profit privately owned company, which is currently run by Erhard’s brother Harry and his sister Joan and boasts 52 offices in 21 countries and combined global revenue of more than $70 million dollars in 2004, doesn’t think Paris is profitable?

Inside the Paris ForumPerhaps the reasoning behind the departure from Paris by the controversial company formerly known as “est” (Erhard Seminars Training), was a scathing expose’ aired on France’s Channel 3 TV.

Up until recently only the French viewing audience understood just how damaging this television program might be.

However, thanks to “You Tube” the complete program about Landmark can now be seen with English subtitles (click on the links provided within this article to see each segment).

What the French investigative report accomplished was a candid view of Landmark training.

The crew of channel 3 effectively penetrated the shroud of secrecy that surrounds Landmark’s introductory seminar called the Forum, by using hidden cameras.

This provided firsthand proof to the French about what goes on within the three days of training sessions.

Alain RothIn the first segment the audience is introduced to Alain Roth, Landmark’s former French director, who leads the seminar.

Roth subjects one woman to “public humiliation” before hundreds of participants and calls her an “asshole.” After being berated by the Landmark leader for about an hour she breaks down in tears while he insults and mocks her.

Forum leader abusiveIn this segment the audience is also introduced to some of Landmark’s jargon, comprised of thought-terminating cliches such as “racket” and ”inauthentic.” Terms Roth routinely uses to dismiss anyone that asks him questions that he doesn’t really want to answer.

In the second segment a lawyer and “brainwashing expert” explains that Landmark “breaks a person” and he labels its methods ”totalitarian.”

Sophie McLeanOn balance an interview is included with Landmark’s designated spokesperson, Sophie McLean, flown in from New York.

Ms. McLean attempts to dismiss the description that her company is a “cult” or “cult-like” and that its business is somehow based upon “brainwashing.”

McLean specifically cites a report that Landmark paid a French psychiatrist Jean-Marie Abigrall to prepare.

However, despite being paid more than 45,000 Euro Dr. Abigrall is less than positive about Landmark. He laments that Landmark’s leaders lack meaningful training and calls that “shocking.” He then refuses to take a position as to whether the company is a cult or not.

During segment three unhappy Landmark customers refer to it as a ”sect,” which is the word most commonly used by Europeans to describe what Americans would call a “cult.”

One woman says she was treated “like a puppet.”

Channel 3 then interviews Jean-Pierre Brard the Deputy Mayor of Montreuil who once served as vice-president of the French Assembly committee designated to investigate and identify “sects.”

Brard says McLean is “lying” and explains that Landmark meets the criteria of a “sect” because it features a “guru who destabilizes people to enslave them” and “relinquish critical thought.”

Brard then goes on to describe Landmark as a “network of money” focused primarily on making profits.

In segment four one former student describes the long grueling hours of training, within a tightly controlled environment, which allows participants little time for critical thinking or “perspective.”

Landmark’s method of “education” is labeled “emotional abuse.”

Then an expert sociologist discusses the “structured” and “organized” seminar format that engenders “total power” for the leader. He also concludes, “the goal is to destabilize the individual.”

The ”brainwashing expert” adds that Landmark participants are systematically regressed to a “child-like state,” that affords the guru/leader a “stranglehold.”

The fifth segment reveals that much of what outsiders might perceive as spontaneous about Landmark and its students is in fact carefully rehearsed. The so-called “graduation” event at the end of a Forum is actually a “well-oiled ritual” devised for “seduction” or recruitment.

A former seven-year member of Scientology compares her “sect” to what is shown about Landmark. She observes that the two organizations have a very similar approach.

Roth is called a “manipulator” who uses a contrived vocabulary ”incomprehensible” to those outside of Landmark.

In the final sixth segment Landmark’s “volunteers” are filmed doing everything from working the phones to scrubbing the bathroom floor for free.

Channel 3 also captures firsthand how the company’s volunteers repeatedly call, some say harass, past participants to take more courses.

Hidden camera caputures inside lookNever before has what’s wrong with Landmark been so precisely captured firsthand on film.

At the end of the program it’s not hard to understand why the company gave up on France.

One French Landmark supporter interviewed by Channel 3 cries as she is confronted with the footage recording the bad behavior of her mentor Alain Roth. She then attempts to deny that anything is wrong, but even this diehard believer apparently ultimately finds the film footage undeniably disturbing.

No doubt Landmark Education will find the sharing of this revealing television program through “You Tube” disturbing as well.

It is difficult if not impossible to refute the stark evidence provided of Landmark’s inner workings when it’s captured by cameras.

During the 1970s Werner Erhard relied upon the secrecy that surrounded his seminar business to protect its practices, but now with the Internet and hidden cameras it is much harder to control information.

Erhard is now 70, certainly a wealthy man, who reportedly lives in the Cayman Islands with his long-time girlfriend.

But lately it seems he is concerned about his “legacy.”

A documentary titled ”Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard” has been making the rounds at film festivals, which is focused on Erhard’s supposed contribution to the so-called “human potential movement.”

The documentary was done with Erhard’s full cooperation and produced by his former lawyer.

Don’t expect to see any of the French footage in what might be easily labled a “puff piece,” which paints the aging guru as positively as possible.

You can also see the 2003 French documentary “Inside Landmark Forum,” by downloading it here.

Postscript: Since this article was posted all the video clips have been removed. There is no longer any Internet access to the French television program about Landmark Education. All that remains at You Tube is a clip promoting the ”documentary” titled “Transformation” about the so-called “legacy” of Werner Erhard. At You Tube it says “This video has been removed due to terms of use violation.” At the Internet Archive, which formally featured the complete 2003 French documentary it states, “The item is not available due to issues with the item’s content.” Who do you suppose had “issues” with the content of this material and pressured the servers to suspend access? It seems that when some people can’t defeat the facts they resort to censorship.

Update: The video can be viewed and/or downloaded from Google Video.

Another update: Google has removed the documentary. But streaming video is now available through another site called “Daily Motion” click here. If you would rather download the documentary it’s available through Torrents click here.

Another update: “Daily Motion” also pulled the video, but now it may be viewed through the “Cult Awareness and Information Centre in Australia.” 

Does Scientology have a “cure” for homosexuality, or does the controversial church just beard (disguise) its gay celebrities through arranged marriages?

Scientologist John Travolta married fellow Scientologist Kelly Preston in what seemed like convenient timing, just after the National Enquirer ran a story about an alleged two-year homosexual affair between the actor and a male porn star.

The subsequent Travolta/Preston union produced two offspring and paved the way for the actor to continue a lucrative career as a leading man.

The National Inquirer later ran a retraction and Travolta’s alleged lover recanted, after the star’s lawyer reportedly applied some pressure.

Another Scientologist Lisa Marie Presley was quickly wed to Michael Jackson after allegations surfaced that he was a pedophile that preyed upon little boys. A source told CultNews that a Scientology minister participated and/or officiated when the couple was married at a secluded spot (other sources say it was a local judge).

But this marriage didn’t last and now the former “King of Pop” is living in self-imposed exile as a single in the Arab emirate of Bahrain.

Was it some Scientology agenda or really romance that led to the Presley/Jackson nuptials?

Could it be that Elvis’s daughter was wowed by Jackson’s dance moves or overwhelmed by his sexual charisma?

Now it looks like the National Enquirer might have the last word and/or the latest evidence regarding the sexual preference of John Travolta reports Canada.com.

Travolta in drag as TurnbladWhile doing his first film turn in drag as mama Edna Turnblad for the movie “Hairspray” in Canada, Travolta was caught on camera kissing a man, but not in costume.

Instead, it appears this smooch was spontaneous and not per any contract agreement.

In photographs published by the National Enquirer, Travolta is seen planting a wet one on an unidentified young man while balancing tiptoe on the stair of his private jet.

Is this only a lighthearted gesture bestowed by the 52-year-old star upon his special friends or further grist for the rumor mill about his sexuality?

One source told CultNews that Mrs. Travolta was seated aboard the aircraft when this happened, which if true might raise some interesting questions about the nature of the couple’s marital arrangement.

The official word from the Travolta camp is that he is not gay. 

A friend of the star said, “John is furious about these new gay claims. It’s ridiculous ” he’s answered this over and over and he denies being gay” reports The Bosh.

But should Mr. Travolta be quite so “furious” given his latest career move to embrace a comedic character popular amongst the gay community?

CultNews previously questioned if a man rumored to be a closeted homosexual was right for a role made popular by openly gay actors.

Maybe the diehard 30-year Scientologist is more concerned about how his idol, the late L. Ron Hubbard founder of Scientology, might have perceived his penchant for kissing men? 

Hubbard once stated that gays “should be taken from¦society as rapidly as possible” because “no social order will survive which does not remove these people from its midst” reported Rolling Stone.

Travolta/Preston a special arrangement?One former gay Scientologist even claimed that John Travolta was the proof that he was offered that “Scientology processing and courses would ‘handle’ [his] own homosexuality.” He paid the church a bundle for the process, but later sued when it didn’t work. 

Maybe it’s not about a “cure,” but rather a cover, which the church provides for its generous and/or important gay members?

Mrs. Travolta must know for sure, but it seems unlikely that she would spill, even if the rumors were true.

Meanwhile neither John Travolta’s fading star status or his marriage is likely to suffer because of the generous affection he doles out to his chosen male companions.

Postscript: Travolta’s lawyer Martin Singer subsequently made the following statement: “As a manner of customary greeting and saying farewell, Mr Travolta kisses both women and men whom he considers to be extremely close friends. People who are close to Mr Travolta are aware of his customary, non-romantic gesture.”