The names adorning the full-page letter in the International Herald Tribune guaranteed attention: Dustin Hoffman, Goldie Hawn, Larry King, Gore Vidal. Others, like Michael Marcus, Terry Semel, Sherry Lansing, Casey Silver and John Calley, may be less familiar, but in Hollywood they are just as famous and considerably more powerful as top executives at five of the major studios--MGM, Warner, Paramount, Universal and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

None are adherents of Scientology. Many are Jewish, provoking lots of buzz over why they endorsed a high-decibel comparison with the Holocaust. Marcus and others say they oppose any religious persecution. Several say they signed...

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