Labor Day weekend is turning into another massive PR nightmare for Hollywood’s top-earning actor. One that not even his once formidable protector Pat Kingsley could have likely circumvented.
First came the Saturday online tease for Vanity Fair’s Maureen Orth October issue cover story “What Katie Didn’t Know.” The article details how Iranian-born actress Nazanin Boniadi was unwittingly auditioned in late 2004 by the Church of Scientology to be Tom Cruise’s girlfriend and slotted into that role for what turned out to be a tumultuous few months. CoS watcher Tony Ortega commented Sunday that Orth deserves extra credit for figuring out a way to expose this latest bit of sordid CoS history (officially denied by the church):
Boniadi has wanted to tell her story for years, we’d heard, but she’s bound by multiple non-disclosure agreements from doing so. We hear that Orth managed to do a classic “write-around,” putting together Boniadi’s story without help from Boniadi herself.
Then, last night, Showbiz 411 columnist Roger Friedman published two emails sent to him by ex-church member Paul Haggis. The writer-director confirms the shocking Vanity Fair allegations:
“I’ve known Nazanin for about three years. I met her through a mutual friend when I was doing my own personal research into the allegations against Scientology, before I wrote my letter of resignation. Naz was embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in this incident and never wanted it to come out, so I kept silent. However I was deeply disturbed by how the highest ranking members of a church could so easily justify using one of their members; how they so callously punished her and then so effectively silenced her when it was done. It wasn’t just the threats; they actually made her feel ashamed, when all she had been was human and trusting.”
Haggis tells Friedman these emails will be his only comment on the Boniadi matter. Cruise meanwhile must decide whether to dodge or directly confront these latest damning accusations about the practices of his church.
Update – 09/03/12:
A spokesperson for Cruise released the following statement in response to the Vanity Fair cover story: “Lies in a different font are still lies — designed to sell magazines.”
Update – 09/04/12:
Church of Scientology International has issued the following statement in response to the Vanity Fair allegations:
The entire story is hogwash. 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. Never. The allegation and entire premise of the Vanity Fair article is totally false. Like clockwork, stories about this “phantom” audition surface in the tabloids every few months. We have been denying this ridiculous tale now since it first appeared in print FOUR years ago.
As for Paul Haggis, he is a status-obsessed apostate who exploited a tenuous connection with Scientology to grab headlines via a publicity stunt whereby he “resigned” from the Church when he had not been an active parishioner for decades. He is doing the same again—attempting to grab headlines and falsely slander his former religion.
No church members were “used”, nor were they punished, nor silenced. This is totally false.
Paul Haggis cannot confirm the “truth” of this fictional story. Was he there when it supposedly occurred? How could he be a reliable source? Because he says someone told him something does that make it true?
No. In fact, it now appears to us that the story is actually about Paul Haggis and something he did. Did he reveal to you the relationship he was having with Nazanin Boniadi? We discovered this by simply Googling his name and hers. Here is our question: is it Paul Haggis who started a relationship with Boniadi while auditioning and casting his last film, The Next Three Days? What is the motivation here?
The connection goes deeper. Both Paul Haggis and Nazanin Boniadi are members of a small self-proclaimed “posse” of anti-Scientology apostates founded by self-admitted liars and suborners of perjury. This posse has been selling stories to the highest bidder for years, including the now defunct, News of the World and Life & Style. In recent weeks, they have exploited this high profile divorce in any way they can by spreading lies to draw attention to themselves so they can make money shilling their self-published books.
Update – 09/05/12:
A longer version of the above statement, in the form of a letter from Church of Scientology spokesperson Karin Pouw to Today Show producer Amanda Sidman, is accessible (with attachments) at scientologynews.org.
[Boniadi photo: s_bukley/Shutterstock.com]