Latest Church of Scientology PR Crisis Heats Up

As we reported earlier this week, Paul Haggis’ comments about the shocking Vanity Fair October cover story involving Tom Cruise, the Church of Scientology and an alleged 2004 audition process was met with an almost equally disturbing response from the church. The CoS pointed to Googled proof of a prior Haggis “relationship” with the woman at the center of Maureen Orth’s article, Nazanin Boniadi (pictured).

Today, there is more of what will be much more as the Vanity Fair October issue begins to circulate. Over at Tony Ortega’s Village Voice CoS blog, Haggis has chimed in with a few more thoughts. He clarifies that although his emails to Showbiz 411 columnist Roger Friedman were taken as confirmation of the VF report, “Like everyone else, I have not even read their story.”

But Haggis stands firm on the central point of his reaching out. Vouching for Boniadi’s character:

“I am simply coming to the defense of a woman who has been publicly called a liar… Perhaps it’s just me, but I have never found Scientology’s blanket denials equally credible… It is my understanding that Naz is the subject of this article, not the source of it. Scientology has a long and well-documented history of attempting to bully its critics into silence. Here they are bullying a woman who has yet to even speak. I guess I just don’t like bullies.”

Meanwhile, Friedman hints this morning after having read the VF article that church leader David Miscavige may soon have his own PR fallout to deal with. Namely, the republished charge that CoS audits of Cruise and other celebs were secretly videotaped, transcribed and toasted. Per the VF excerpt quoted by Friedman:

According to several sources, he often read them [audits] out loud to entertain whomever he was with. “I know he did it with [the reports of) Lisa Marie Presley, back in ’95, when she married to Michael Jackson, and I know he did it a number of times with Kirstie Alley. I saw and heard him,” Claire Headley tells me… According to Tom De Vocht, Miscavige’s former close aide, Miscavige – often joined by his wife, Shelly – would whip out a bottle of Macallan scotch at two or three in the morning in the Officers Lounge, play backgammon, and read the Cruise reports with a running commentary.

Though Ortega, ex-Scientologist Marty Rathbun and others have extensively documented Miscavige’s alleged misdeeds, for many the October Vanity Fair cover story will be the first time they’ve read about claims of breached audits. As such, the glossy mag coverage represents a major new PR headache for the church, just ahead of the release of Paul Thomas Anderson’s L. Ron Hubbard-inspired flick The Master.

The Church of Scientology has vehemently denied the Vanity Fair article allegations.

[2007 photo of Boniadi: s_bukley/]

Previously on FishbowlLA:
Paul Haggis Corroborates Vanity Fair Scientology Cover Story