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Orlando Jones Options Rights to Controversial Cult Deprogrammer, Ted Patrick’s Life Story

Orlando Jones Options Rights to Controversial Cult Deprogrammer, Ted Patrick's Life Story

This is a man I wasn’t at all familiar with before today, strangely enough; but after a little research on him, his story reads quite fascinating, and should indeed make for a worthwhile film.

Orlando Jones has optioned the rights to the real-life story of Ted Patrick – considered to be the “father” of modern deprogramming (a specialist with a mission to destroy cults and pseudo-religions). Although his background includes only a high school education, he is/was considered an authority on new religions, and has been praised for his book “Let Our Children Go,” published in 1976, in which he details factual stories about his life’s mission to rescue young people who have fallen prey to pseudo-religious cults – a controversial mission that sometimes led to felony convictions for kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment (charges often related to the abduction and attempted deprogramming of young people). 

In “Let Our Children Go” he describes his exploits in what reviews of the book called “heroic, crusader-like terms,” admitting to practicing the very things he claims to see in the new religions: physical violence, imprisonment, harassment of individuals. So you can see why authorities would have a problem with his methods.

Here’s more I found from my digging: “A controversial figure known in the cult world as ‘Black Lightning’ Patrick was the first to point out publicly what the cults were doing to America’s youth. He investigated the ploys by which many converts were ensnared and delved into the methods many cults used to manipulate the mind. He was also the first to take action. In the early seventies, Patrick began a one-man campaign against the cults. His fight started in Southern California, on the Pacific beaches where, in the beginning, organizations such as the Hare Krishna and the Children of God recruited among the vacationing students and carefree dropouts who covered the sands in summer and roamed the bustling beach communities year round. The Children of God approached Patrick’s son there one day and nearly made off with him. Patrick investigated, was horrified at what he found, and immediately set out on a course of direct action. His first-hand experiences with cult techniques and their effects led him to develop an antidote he named “deprogramming,” a remarkably simple and, when properly used, nearly foolproof process for helping cult members regain their freedom of thought. Before long, Ted Patrick was in action all over the country on behalf of desperate parents. Through the seventies, he made front page headlines in the east for his daring daylight kidnappings of Ivy League cult members. He made network news for his interstate car chases in the Pacific Northwest to elude both cult leaders and state troopers. And eventually he made American legal history. In his ultimate defense of the U.S. Constitution, Patrick challenged the confusion of First Amendment rights surrounding the cult controversy and drew an important distinction between Americans’ guaranteed national freedoms of speech and religion and their more fundamental human right to freedom of thought. In precedent-setting cases, U.S. courts confirmed Patrick’s argument that, by “artful and deceiving” means, the new cults were in fact robbing people of their natural capacity to think and choose. To that time, it was never considered possible that a human being could be stripped of this basic endowment. During the Watts riots is Los Angeles in 1965, he helped calm racial unrest in San Diego. His public service caught the attention of then California’s Republican governor, Ronald Reagan, who appointed Patrick, an active Democrat, to the community relations post.”

And there’s a lot more! It’s a fascinating story, and one that I’m glad will hopefully become a feature film, and introduce Ted Patrick to even more people who likely have never heard of him. 

Orlando Jones and his Drive-By Entertainment partner Noam Dromi, plan to write the screenplay, for Jones to obviously star in what reads like a really compelling narrative on the life of Patrick – a man clearly determined to accomplish what he set out to, by any means necessary! It’s so unlike typical limited roles that black actors are given – especially when it comes to Hollywood studio filmmaking. And, depending on the execution, this could be one of those roles, and films, that gets attention during awards season.   

Currently, Jones can be found on Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow.” 


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