A bombshell biography of Tom Cruise could put muckraking author Andrew Morton back in the cross-hairs of the megawatt star and Scientology bigwigs who are pilloried in the tell-all.
"Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography," by Morton - who penned a biography of Princess Diana - is due in bookstores Jan. 15. The Post obtained copies through online retailers.
With its claims about the influence of Scientology in the star's life and loves, the book could kick up a storm of controversy with the sect.
More than a year ago, Cruise's lawyer, Bert Fields, hinted that Morton better watch his step.
"I wrote a letter to Mr. Morton back in November 2005 and said he obviously was entitled to write the book but 'make sure you check your facts' ... If he tries to use my letter to create the impression that Mr. Cruise did have a gay affair, we will certainly sue ... because the story is false. Mr. Cruise is not gay," Fields wrote in a letter quoted by The Daily Telegraph of Britain.
No such claim of homosexuality is made in the new book.
But it contains other startling allegations, including:
- In 1999, Scientologists asked Cruise to take a course that would help pinpoint "those in his life who create problems and difficulties," the book says. That person, Morton claimed, was Nicole Kidman. Cruise divorced Kidman in March 2001.
- Cruise hooked up with Spanish screen siren Penelope Cruz but, the book claims, the high-profile relationship ended after Cruz's dad - who the book claims was outspoken against the sect - had a heart attack in December 2003.
- In 2005, weeks before Cruise first met Katie Holmes, Colombian model Sofia Vergara abruptly stopped seeing Cruise and, according to the book, "disappeared" to a secret hideaway after allegedly concluding she was being used "as a high-profile Scientology recruit who would be an alluring figurehead for a future recruitment drive in Latin America."
Cruise was introduced to The Church of Scientology after his mega-hit "Top Gun" by actress Mimi Rogers, who had grown up in the sect. After reading picture books on Scientology, the book claims, the handsome star fully embraced the beliefs and married Rogers in 1987.
Reeling in the superstar was a huge boost to the sect, which actively recruited celebs.
"The most important recruit ever is in the process of being secured. His arrival will change the face of Scientology forever," declared Scientology's powerful leader, David Miscavige, at a church rally at the time, according to the book.
Cruise kept the faith but kicked Mimi to the curb after two years, marrying Kidman, whom he met on the set of his box-office dud "Days of Thunder."
According to a Newsweek article in December 1998, Kidman admitted "that a big part of me is still a Catholic girl."
"Shortly after Kidman's Newsweek interview, senior Scientology leaders, including David Miscavige, Ray Mithoff and others, discussed their strategy to keep Tom firmly in the fold," the book claims. "The fear was that a lukewarm Nicole could fatally compromise Tom's commitment to his faith."
Church leaders were a big part of the couple's life, the book says. Several news outlets, including a 1995 Daily Mail story, reported Scientologists even arranged the couple's adoption of daughter Isabella in 1993 from a church member.
In January 2001, the Kidman-Cruise union was over after 10 years. But, the book claims, Cruise broke the crushing news to Nicole through a lawyer.
She was told "she would never make another movie" and that she should "buy a one-way ticket back to Sydney," lawyers warned her, according to the book.
Kidman discovered she was pregnant shortly after their highly publicized breakup. But months later, she miscarried, according to several media outlets, including an interview with the star in Rolling Stone. Upon hearing the news, Cruise sent flowers but never visited, according to the book.
In the summer of 2000, according to the book, Cruise was "entranced" by Cruz after seeing her in the Spanish film "Open Your Eyes." He asked her to reprise the role in the film "Vanilla Sky."
Cruise took her to the Scientologists' hangout, Hollywood Celebrity Center, the book says. "It was not long before she was spending days at the CC, reportedly up to seven hours at a time, immersing herself in basic Scientology courses," the book claims.
"It didn't hurt that Tom's love interest Penelope Cruz came from Spain, a market that Scientology was looking to exploit," writes Morton.
During this time, Cruise nearly reached the top level in the Scientology hierarchy - "second in command," Morton claims - and Miscavige spoke of him in almost mythical proportions. "Across 90 nations, 5,000 people hear his word of Scientology," the Los Angeles Times reported.
In March 2004, Cruise cut ties with longtime agent Pat Kingsley for speaking out against Scientology as bad for his image, the book relates. "From that moment, she was doomed," Morton quotes a "Hollywood insider" as saying.
The relationship with Cruz - and hers with Scientology - also ended in 2004. Cruise tellingly showed up without her at the Golden Globe Awards. She had just come back to the country after being with her father, Eduardo, who suffered a heart attack months earlier in Spain. Eduardo considered Scientology to be offensive, writes Morton.
Cruise began calling "Alias" television star Jennifer Garner, but she was not impressed by his sentimental voice-mail messages that asked "if she knew what freedom was," according to the book.
Vergara came into his life in February 2005. Cruise was smitten, sending her text messages, flowers, chocolates - and Scientology literature, according to the book.
But she quickly found that Cruise's entourage was, in her words, "powerful and authoritarian," Morton's book claims. "Her friends got scared for her," Morton quotes one "close friend" as saying.
Vergara told friends that "she had been deliberately targeted not only as a possible bride for Tom, but as a high-profile Scientology recruit who would be an alluring figurehead for a future recruitment drive in Latin America," the book alleges.
On Easter weekend of 2005, Vergara took off to a location she wouldn't disclose, refusing to answer Cruise's text and phone messages, the book alleges.
It was less than three weeks later that Cruise first met Katie Holmes, who answered his call to interview her for the leading-lady role in his next movie, the book said. Also on the list to be interviewed for the film were single stars Jessica Alba, Kate Bosworth and Scarlett Johansson, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
After meeting her, Cruise sent over a limo filled with chocolates and flowers and handed her a Scientology handbook, according to the book.
The following year, the much-publicized Oprah couch-jumping incident occurred, along with a controversial and combative interview with Matt Lauer on the "Today" show and Paramount's decision to drop Cruise - all affecting his image.
Katie started to change. She took on lifelong Scientologist handler Jessica Feshbach Rodriguez as her best friend, changed her name from Katie to Kate and donned uncharacteristic couture wear, according to reports in W magazine.
In June, Holmes formally joined the Church of Scientology, agreeing that "if she or any of her children were ever to suffer mental or terminal illness, they must turn only to Scientology's treatments," the book claims.
Four days later, Cruise proposed to Holmes in Paris at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Not soon after, Holmes announced she was pregnant.
"Some sect members sincerely believed that Katie Holmes was carrying the baby who would be the vessel for L. Ron Hubbard's spirit when he returned around the galaxy," Morton writes.
According to Scientology principles, Cruise maintained a silent household for the expectant mother, reports said. Cruise put up 6-foot boards to remind people to keep quiet and forced cleaning crews to work from midnight to 8 a.m. without speaking so as not to disturb the couple, according to the book.
Cruise even slept in a separate wing of their LA estate, citing his snoring habit as the reason.
Suri was born in April 2006, and a simple wedding ceremony followed.
Morton, who devoted two years of research to the book, claimed in a Daily Mail interview that he feared the exposé would anger some Scientology devotees.
"I've sold my flat, and I'm not telling anyone where I'm moving to," he told the newspaper. "I intend to disappear for a while."
The book will not be published in Britain, where libel laws are notoriously celeb-friendly.
"Thank God for the British libel laws," said Fields in an interview with the Daily Mail, who said Cruise "has no intention" of reading the tome.
"He has been told about it and naturally he knows there are a bunch of lies about him," the lawyer said.
"You can imagine what it must be like to have somebody compare your baby girl to Rosemary's Baby," Fields said, referring to a "sick and bizarre" passage in which Morton said Katie Holmes might have felt like the movie character, "an unsuspecting young woman is impregnated with the Devil's child."
"Morton should be ashamed of himself," said Fields.
Steaming lawyers for the church of Scientology are believed to be inking a $100 million lawsuit against St. Martin's Press, according to the Mail.
"It's not too late for St. Martin's Press to pull this book," said the church's general counsel, Elliot Abelson.
Additional reporting by Jeane MacIntosh