Pushes back against Vanity Fair story.
The Church of Scientology, which reentered the spotlight this year amidst the virtually epochal divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (some say), has refuted claims made in a new Vanity Fair story that the enigmatic religion carried out an elaborate wife-screening process for top celeb devotee Cruise. “The entire story is hogwash,” a Scientology rep told Us Weekly. “There was no project, secret or otherwise, ever conducted by the church to find a bride (audition or otherwise) for any member of the church.” The magazine story alleges that the church launched an extensive search to find a mate for Cruise after his divorce from Nicole Kidman.
Confidentiality agreements. Videotaped confessions. Ditch-digging as punishment. Imperfect teeth. “Vanity Fair” writer Maureen Orth delves into what she describes as the Church of Scientology’s quest to find Tom Cruise a perfect wife.
It’s not easy to get information about the Church of Scientology. The community is both tight-lipped and litigious, a combination that makes it difficult to find people willing to talk about it. But Vanity Fair’s Maureen Orth tracked down several former members who claim the church went on a search to find the ideal love interest for Tom Cruise. Before Katie Holmes, a woman named Nazanin Boniadi was being groomed to be the next Mrs. Tom Cruise. (Church officials denied most—if not all—of the details in the story. In a statement, Cruise’s lawyer called it “a rehash of tired old lies.”)
From the auditioning process to the confidentiality agreements, a few highlights from the full article:
Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez, AFP / Getty Images (left)
TomKat’s daughter is reportedly enrolled at Avenues, a new Manhattan school where kids are taught in three languages. Lizzie Crocker on the tot’s trendy education.
When Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes drop their daughter off for her first day of school next month, they won’t be going to Dalton or Spence, nor even Scientology’s own Sea Org, as Cruise might have wished. Instead, reports say that little Suri will touch down at Avenues, Manhattan’s latest for-profit prep school.
Josiah Kamau / BuzzFoto-FilmMagic-Getty Images
Avenues could not confirm Suri’s enrollment, but if true it would be a coup in the school’s attempt to get a foothold among New York City’s elite prep schools, no small feat considering the century-long track records of institutions like Brearley. Instead of a storied brand, Avenues promises cutting-edge teaching techniques and facilities, and—key for Avenues’ insanely elite clientele—preparation for international life in the stratosphere.
From nursery school through fourth grade, Avenues’ youngsters will take half their core classes in Mandarin or Spanish. Ninth graders will study abroad. Eventually, the school will have more than 20 campuses on all continents except Antarctica. “We hope to be the finest language school in the city,” said cofounder Chris Whittle, already renowned as a charter-school pioneer, adding that the language-immersion curriculum “ensures students will be at least bilingual—hopefully trilingual.”
She’s married to a high-profile, Scientologist actor who’s been the subject of gossip—and she’s not Katie Holmes. Meet Kelly Preston, John Travolta’s enigmatic wife. By Tricia Romano.
When Katie Holmes filed for divorce from her Scientologist husband, Tom Cruise, two weeks ago, the event prompted a renewed interest in another famous wife of a beleaguered Scientologist: Kelly Preston, John Travolta’s spouse. On the surface, the women in the two couples have much in common: they both married men in the controversial religion, they are both actresses who married up, and they both have been in relationships fraught with scurrilous gossip. When Travolta faced a number of lawsuits (some of which have since been dropped) from men who claimed he’d groped or inappropriately tried to touch them during massage sessions, the rumor mill heated up again: depending on who you ask, Kelly Preston is a knowing Hollywood “beard” or a clueless, but devoted, wife, trapped in a fake marriage.
An email request on Friday to Preston’s PR representative—who also represents Travolta, and used to represent Tom Cruise—asking for comment for this story resulted nearly immediately in an emailed letter from the couple’s attorney at Lavely & Singer. The lawyer wrote, in part, “Numerous false and highly defamatory rumors have been disseminated about my clients, each more absurd and farfetched than the last.”
Unlike Holmes or Cruise’s second wife, Nicole Kidman, not much is known about Kelly Preston—she is something of a Hollywood enigma: pretty, friendly, devoted to helping charities, and judging from a recent appearance on Craig Ferguson, a game and flirty talk show guest.
It’s hard to recall, for instance, that in her pre-Travolta days, she dated George Clooney, who gave her a pot-bellied pig during that strange trend whom he ended up caring for when they broke up. Pre-Travolta, she was also married for two years to actor Kevin Gage, who was in her 1986 movie SpaceCamp.
Believes church turned Kidman’s kids against her.
Tom Cruise’s former Scientology auditor says he believes church officials used their doctrine to turn Cruise’s kids against their mother, his ex-wife Nicole Kidman. In an interview with NBC’s Rock Center, airing Thursday, Marty Rathbun said “it was more than implied… [Kidman] was somebody they shouldn’t open up with, they shouldn’t communicate with, they shouldn’t spend much time with.” Rathbun said he spent countless hours with Cruise at the church’s celebrity center in California starting in 2001, conducting the counseling sessions known as “auditing.” When Cruise and Kidman’s two kids, Connor and Isabella, were with Cruise, they were really at the hands of the Scientology staff, being “indoctrinated,” Rathbun said. After Cruise and Kidman’s divorce, their kids lived primarily with Cruise and now-ex-wife Katie Holmes.
Meet Father Joe Costantino and the Manhattan parish of St. Francis Xavier. It’s a long way from Tom Cruise and the Scientologists in Hollywood, Michael Daly reports.
When the choir director told him that TV news was calling about Katie Holmes’s becoming a new parishioner, the pastor at St. Francis Xavier Church on West 16th Street in Manhattan was at a disadvantage.
Michael Conroy / AP Photo ; (inset) Chris Pizzello / AP Photo
“I didn’t even know who she was,” says Father Joe Costantino, who subsequently learned that Holmes is the estranged wife of Tom Cruise and is said to have left him for fear her child would be raised as a Scientologist. It made no difference to the priest.
“I told our choir director, ‘If she wants to join the choir, I’ll take her,’” Father Costantino says.
To initiate divorce from Tom Cruise.
Katie Holmes’s path to divorce is beginning to sound a little bit like a mystery novel. According to reports on Tuesday, Holmes used a disposable cellphone to set in motion her divorce from actor Tom Cruise. She used the phone to talk with her lawyers and prep her case without anyone on Cruise’s staff knowing. In the end, she wound up hiring three law firms and retaining primary custody of the couple’s daughter, Suri. Cruise will still have visitation rights.
TomKat wanted to save daughter from damage.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes reached a settlement Monday, not even two weeks after the young actress filed for divorce from her superstar Scientologist husband. The settlement was reached surprisingly quickly, and, as TMZ reports Tuesday, it’s all because of Suri. The Hollywood couple were fighting over their daughter when it became clear that a war between her parents would cause the most harm to Suri. “It registered big time with both Tom and Katie, and it allowed their lawyers to strike a deal in what could be record time for this type of divorce,” reports the entertainment news site. “Fact is ... it generally takes celebs in these high-profile divorces a lot longer to realize how bitterness affects small kids, so credit to both.”
From how Cruise and Holmes met to how much money Katie will receive, six questions that remain unanswered in the wake of the former power couple’s swift and secretive divorce settlement.
How did they meet?
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s whirlwind romance was a mystery from the day they met. They made their first public appearance in Rome on April 27, 2005. One month later Cruise, then 42, was bouncing up and down on Oprah’s couch, flailing his arms as he announced to the public that he was crazy ... in love with the 26-year-old actress. In a 2007 interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Holmes said their first date was “in Los Angeles, my first motorcycle ride ... to the beach. It was amazing and fast. I was in love from the moment that I shook his hand for the first time."
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes arrive at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, Calif., Feb. 26, 2012. (Danny Moloshok / Landov)
Somehow the paparazzi missed that public display of affection, perhaps because Holmes made it up after watching Top Gun one too many times, while strapped in a chair in a dark dungeon wearing some device that forced her not to blink (you never know with these two). In his book, Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology, former Scientologist Marc Headley claimed that Cruise “auditioned” a series of actresses to play the role of his wife, including Penélope Cruz, fellow Scientologist Erika Christensen, and Scarlett Johansson. Holmes reportedly was scouted for the part after she said in an interview that she’d like to marry Tom Cruise. Somewhere between the Sistine Chapel and the Church of Scientology, Holmes got pregnant with Suri, who was born only one year after the couple “met” in Rome.
From onetime Cruise mentor.
Speak no evil, pleads Scientology leader Daniele Lattanzi. In an email to Ray McKay, a “well-known OSA operative,” Lattanzi offers a step-by-step guide to censoring the image of Scientology on the Internet when covering the Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise divorce, claiming the media are skewing the truth of Scientology. “Well, I am not somebody that I am going to simply stand and watch a bunch of uninformed people putting my religion under the carpet,” he wrote. Marty Rathbun, who released the email and was once Tom Cruise’s spiritual mentor, calls this email attempt “like showing up to a nuclear war with a squirt gun.” The church claims it had nothing to do with the email and issued a response: “An email from a Scientologist is no more from the Church of Scientology than an email from a Catholic is from the Vatican.”
The shock of TomKat’s split is fading, replaced by the cold reality of a custody fight. Nancy Hass on why Holmes may have the upper hand.
Katie Holmes may often have seemed like a doe in the footlights during her marriage to Tom Cruise. But one thing has become increasingly clear in the days since her Mission Impossible stealth court filing: the 33-year-old actress is no naïf when it comes to divorce law.
Katie Holmes takes daughter Suri out for ice cream in New York on July 3, 2012. (Humberto Carreno / Startraks)
Child custody battles among super-wealthy celebrities can be particularly bruising and protracted. But Holmes’s intricate plan to leave the Church of Scientology and win full custody of her six-year-old daughter, Suri, has many of New York’s top marital attorneys—a tough crowd—impressed.
“She will win plain and simple,” says Raoul Felder, who has represented Rudy Giuliani and the wives of Patrick Ewing, Tom Clancy, and Martin Scorsese. “The case will be settled with a whimper in six months and he will fade off into the sunset. I don’t care how aggressive Scientology is or how many lawyers he has. He will lose.” Holmes, he says, with admiration in his voice, “is a little diabolical.”
Those who join Scientology or other new religious movements don’t tend to be particularly odd, psychologists tell Jesse Singal. Instead it’s their social networks that play a more important role in their religious beliefs.
It’s no wonder that Scientology, which has been in the news over the last few days as a result of its possible role in the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes split, is such red meat for journalists. The religion has it all: Hollywood adherents, a set of beliefs that includes reincarnated aliens (parodied most memorably by South Park, and authoritarian practices.
So it’s easy to criticize L. Ron Hubbard’s church. In many circles, “Scientology” has become a stand-in for a certain harebrained strain of Hollywood religiosity. But there’s a more interesting question in all of this: why do people join Scientology in the first place? For that matter, why do they join any fringe religion?
The strangest thing psychologists—whose profession is opposed by Scientologists—have developed on the issue is that the people who join these movements aren’t very strange.
First, a point on terminology: over the last couple decades, the term “cult” has fallen out of favor in sociological and psychological circles. It’s too loaded. Instead, researchers use the term “new religious movement” as a catchall to describe any faith or belief system outside the mainstream.
From The New Yorker to St. Petersburg Times, the best journalism on the controversial church. By David Sessions.
The Apostate (2011)
Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker
Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology.
Members of the Church of Scientology walk past the new Flag Building, owned by the church, Aug. 28, 2007 in Clearwater, Fla. (Chris O'Meara / AP Photo)
What Is Scientology? (2012)
Tony Ortega, The Village Voice
What’s a thetan? Who goes to the Sea Org? Who made up these words? Find out with our handy cheat sheet of Scientology’s key terms.
If you’ve heard anything about Tom Cruise in the past decade, you’ve likely heard that he belongs to a mysterious religion along with celebrities like John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Greta Van Susteren, and Beck. Now that Katie Holmes is dumping him, you’re probably hearing a torrent of unfamiliar words: He’s an Operating Thetan! Katie was afraid Suri would be audited and kidnapped by the Sea Org!
Since Scientology was founded by a sci-fi writer, it’s perhaps no surprise that it has its share of arcane jargon. While all religions have their own language, Scientology’s baffling cocktail of terminology—brewed from psychology, technology, and philosophy—can be particularly tough to untangle. Almost no concept in Scientology, even those borrowed from other religions or even everyday science, goes without a confusing new moniker.
Auditing – Resembling a blend of confession, psychotherapy, and hypnosis, auditing is one of the central practices of Scientology, intended to increase a person’s self-knowledge and remove emotional barriers tied to past experiences. An auditor asks the person being audited sets of questions directed at uncovering subconscious memories believed to be the root of trauma, addiction, or other obstructions to happy, ethical living. Auditing is an integral part of advancement in the ranks of Scientology. The contents of auditing sessions are said to be confidential, except in cases where the church has reportedly allowed them to be used to blackmail disaffected members (see Fair Game, below). (The church denies virtually all accusations made by ex-members and journalists who have questioned Scientology regarding the incidents the defectors describe.)
It’s not just the end of a marriage—the church is losing glamorous Katie Holmes and little Suri’s fabulous shoe collection. Will it revert to the old polyester days?
The divorce is going to be brutal, but if Katie Holmes manages to wrench her daughter away from Scientology, that’s when things will really get ugly.
Literally, ugly: Holmes and 6-year-old Suri brought some much-needed style to the sartorially challenged church, whose core adherents are bound by a strict dress code and whose leader, David Miscavige, is a clothing obsessive, who has a spending a fortune on custom-tailored shirts and trotting around headquarters dressed as a naval commander, according to several former Scientologists who spoke to The Daily Beast.
Holmes and her daughter are undisputed fashion icons. After her surprise divorce filing last week, the future ex-Mrs. Tom Cruise, walking tall in $795 YSL wedges, massed her bodyguards one hot afternoon and went on an ice-cream run with her daughter, whom she dressed in a $175 Milly shift. For another outing, Suri wore Missoni. The little fashionista already has a shoe collection reportedly worth $150,000, including her own custom-made Louboutins. Her mother, who taped an episode of Project Runway last week, will hold a presentation for her fashion line Holmes & Yang this September, during New York Fashion Week.
Scientology will look a lot worse without them. The world’s fastest growing religion is a “slow-motion fashion train wreck,” says Steve Hall, who became a Scientologist in 1979 and served as the church’s senior writer for 17 years before leaving in 2004. When Hall joined up, he says Scientologists were expected to look nice but weren’t required to wear any particular style of dress. That all changed when Miscavige took over and began imposing his increasingly strict and eccentric fashion tastes on members of the Sea Org, Scientology’s central managerial body of adherents, who sign up to work for the church for one billion years.
What’s a thetan? Who goes to the Sea Org? A cheat sheet for Scientology’s key terms.
Astra Woodcraft grew up in the militaristic religious order of Scientology known as the Sea Organization—until she broke free. Her story, as told to Abigail Pesta.
After five years of marriage, Katie Holmes files for divorce from Tom Cruise. Lizzie Crocker and Ramin Setoodeh on the break up.
Former Page Six editor Paula Froelich joins John Avlon to discuss the planet's biggest divorce story. An intriguing subplot of the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes split, according to Froelich: how Scientology's leaders had hopes that Suri Cruise could one day rise in the church's ranks.