Church of Scientology wages war on Vanity Fair over publication's controversial wife-auditing article on Tom Cruise

Daily Mail, UK/September 17, 2012

The Church Of Scientology has hit back at Vanity Fair's bombshell cover story which includes claims that Scientology officials auditioned 'dozen of young women' for Tom Cruise prior to his marriage to Katie Holmes.

In the publication's controversial article, journalist Maureen Orth alleges that actress Nazanin Boniadi was one of the women being auditioned to marry the megastar - a process which she claims was headed by Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology chief David Miscavige.

In an eight-page scathing letter sent to Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter on August 16, 2012, the organisation fires back at the magazine, it's editor and Orth, branding her 'a bigot'.

It also dismisses all of the article's allegations as defamatory.

'We are writing regarding your, your editor's and reporter's shoddy journalism, religious bigotry and potential legal liability arising out of Vanity Fair's upcoming story about the Tom Cruise divorce,' the letter states.

'Significantly, while Maureen Orth was preparing her story, Vanity Fair ignored its staff and contributors who have firsthand knowledge of Mr. Cruise and of Mr. Miscavige and who would burden her story with the truth.'

The letter, which was written by Jeffrey K. Riffer of the law firm Elkins Kalt Weintraub Reuben Gartside LLP and is published on the Church Of Scientology website, claims that Orth lacked in her effort to interview church's leader Miscavige.

'Mr. Miscavige travels across the country and around the world almost non-stop, unlike the anti-Scientologist apostate sources who form the basis of her already-written story and who are available on a moment's notice at the press of 'send' on any anti-Scientology hate-site blog,' the letter reads.

The letter also goes on to defend Mr. Miscavige, and his alleged close connection to Cruise.

It also addresses 32 questions sent to the church by the publication, including one which questioned whether Miscavige was a 'third wheel' in Cruise's relationships.

'Mr. Miscavige is the ecclesiastical leader of a worldwide religion; a man of impeccable character who is dedicated to his faith and to the service of its parishioners,' it says.

'He respects the institution of marriage and those who enter into it.

'Not only is this highly offensive and grossly inappropriate question lifted from Andrew Morton's 2008 unauthorized biography of Tom Cruise, but if Ms. Orth had done any research, she would know that Mr. Miscavige's vocation requires him to travel extensively throughout the world and he is rarely even in the same cities as the celebrities with whom she suggests he spends virtually all of his time.

'Ms. Orth's implications are demonstrably false. If she had considered for a minute the respective travel and work demands placed on both Mr. Miscavige and Mr. Cruise, she would have dismissed outright this "third wheel notion" concocted in Mr. Morton's book.'

The letter also staunchly defends the religion and it's beliefs, and in the process brands Orth a 'bigot'.

'Scientology is a new religion and its beliefs not as well known as those of more ancient history,' it says.

'That does not excuse you or Ms. Orth for being ignorant.

'Rather, it demands you be even more sensitive to finding out what the true beliefs are of Scientology-which can only be told by the religion itself.

'Just because you don't think you are bigoted doesn't mean you aren't. Bigotry and ignorance go hand in hand and you are definitely and willfully ignorant of the actual beliefs of Scientology and the activities of its Churches.'

The letter also contains threats of legal action.

'The disgraceful allegations Vanity Fair apparently plan to publish about Mr. Miscavige are defamatory,' it says.

'If Vanity Fair goes forward with publication of such defamatory allegations, now that it is on notice that the story is false, the stain on its reputation will last long after any reader even remembers the article.

'The sting of the jury verdict will last longer still; far longer than any pleasure from racing to publish a poorly researched and sourced story.'

In response to the letter, Vanity Fair has released a statement to CNN.

'We absolutely stand by Maureen Orth's story. Vanity Fair has never paid sources and never would,' it says.

According Vanity Fair's expose, the secretive religious group organised an 'audition' process to find Cruise a wife, grilling dozens of young women to make sure they posed no threat to the church or its most famous member.

And his now-ex-wife Ms Holmes was apparently not the first choice - the church wanted Cruise to marry a young actress Boniadi who was already a Scientologist, but Boniadi was seen as disrespectful to religious leaders, the magazine claimed.

The shocking allegations about the origins of the stars' six-year marriage are made in the October issue of Vanity Fair.

In the article, Orth claims that the project to identify a new partner for Cruise, following the break-up of his relationships with Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz, started in 2004 and was headed by Shelly Miscavige, wife of the church's top official David Miscavige.

A number of Scientologist actresses were interviewed by church leaders, former official Marc Headley claims, and told they were being considered for a role in a new training video.

However, they were allegedly faced with unexpected questions such as: 'What do you think of Tom Cruise?'

Holmes, who did not become a Scientologist until she started going out with Cruise, was not part of this process, the article says.

Instead, Mrs Miscavige allegedly chose Boniadi, then 24, to be the megastar's new partner.

The reports goes on to claim she was told she had been selected for 'a very important mission', and ordered to break up with her boyfriend.

When Miss Boniadi was flown to New York and taken for dinner by Cruise at trendy restaurant Nobu, she began to suspect she was part of an elaborate set-up, Orth writes.

The pair went ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, where the rink had been closed for them, then spent the night together, it was alleged.

The actress, who has appeared in General Hospital, How I Met Your Mother and blockbuster Iron Man, was also made to sign multiple confidentiality agreements over her relationship with Cruise, Vanity Fair claims.

Her relationship with the star remained a secret, and Vanity Fair alleges that she was once forced to do manual labour for telling a friend about the affair.

Just a few months after the break-up, Mr Cruise started seeing Ms Holmes, who converted to Scientology ahead of their marriage in November 2006.

Ms Holmes filed for divorce in June, and the split was finalised two weeks later.

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