Tom Cruise Rewards Scientology Honchos

Fox News/November 6, 2007

Sunday night, Tom Cruise rewarded high-ranking members of the Church of Scientology with tickets to a private screening of his new movie, "Lions for Lambs."

This is the provocative anti-war movie which he executive-produced for United Artists with partner Paula Wagner.

I rather doubt that director Robert Redford, who's also a co-star, and Cruise's other co-star, Meryl Streep, had any idea that the screening room at the Museum of Modern Art and the cocktail party following was full of Scientologists, including the two big honchos of the New York division.

But others from the standard screening-invite list recognized strangers in their midst. As one inside observer snipped, "Who are all these people?"

While Streep and Redford's guests included family, friends and associates, nearly all of Cruise's retinue came from the Church.

They included Rev. John Carmichael and president of the New York chapter Lori Alpers.

Other Scientologists whom Cruise invited included Jim Woodworth and Carole Hamaker, each of whom have taken extensive classes in the organization. Another couple, Marian and Cal Henry, also have dozens of classes under their belts.

Cruise's other Scientology guests were Randy Hepner, a jet pilot, and John Danielson, partner with former Bush Department of Education Secretary Rod Paige in Chartwell Education.

In 2005, Danielson, according to published reports, tried to push Applied Scholastics, a Scientology education program, in the St. Louis public school system.

Just in case something went wrong, he also invited Scientology's New York lawyer, Eric Lieberman.

Cruise also brought to the screening wife Katie Holmes, her parents and brother, as well his own mother and sister, cousin Amy Mapother, and hot young actor Wes Okerson, whose sole credit, according to the Internet Movie Database, is a small part in a relatively unseen film called "The Grand."

Also invited by Cruise was Las Vegas home builder Ernie Domanico and real estate agent Bob Barnhart. Cruise could very well be buying a home in Sin City or investing in a new development.

All of the Scientologists, said keen-eyed observers at the screening, wore little gold pins in their lapels.

Considering how Cruise's proselytizing about Scientology may have cost him ticket-holders during the promotion for his last movie, "Mission: Impossible 3," it's certainly curious that he risked having so many of his church pals in attendance — especially with United Artists' financial investors from Merrill Lynch and other banks also there.

Even though Cruise has a financial stake in "Lions," he didn't stick around to discuss its merits.

After the movie was over, Cruise and company took off, leaving movie legends Streep and Redford, as well as MGM /UA bigwigs Harry Sloan and Rick Sands, to handle the after-party upstairs in the museum.

Other guests were glum they didn't get to see Cruise and Holmes up close and personal.

But as one insider put it, Holmes, who'd just finished the New York marathon, seemed "robotic." Maybe she was just tired!

It was a much different scene than Saturday night's buoyant "Lions for Lambs" screening hosted by chef Andrew Borrok. That list included Fran Drescher, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Rocco DiSpirito and fashion designer John Varvatos.

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