HBO announces Scientology documentary, hires 160 lawyers

Network is expecting backlash from the secretive church

Award-winning documentary director Alex Gibney is to make a film about the Church of Scientology for HBO, and the network is lawyering up in preparation.

The doc will be adapted from the book Going Clear by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lawrence Wright, which looks at the religion's origins and its interactions with Hollywood.

"We have probably 160 lawyer [looking at the film]", HBO Documentary Films President Sheila Nevins told The Hollywood Reporter.

The church is notoriously litigious and does not take kindly to people snooping into their affairs, as John Sweeney found out in the BBC documentary Scientology and Me.

It did not take kindly to Wright's book, which contains allegations of physical abuse.

Gibney previously directed We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, and won an Oscar for 2007's Taxi to the Dark Side.

Louis Theroux also has a Scientology documentary in the works, which he claims will be "non-judgemental".