This is the cover of the new issue of Vanity Fair -- a beautiful, perfectly complexioned, soft-eyed Katie Holmes looks out at us above a headline about WHAT SHE DIDN’T KNOW, followed by these magic words:

Marriage, Scientology-style

Brilliant, non? It’s like... the Chanel of tabloid covers.

Only the article is, of course, better researched.

Apparently, as you’ve long suspected, Katie Holmes was not Tom Cruise’s first choice wife. The woman they initially auditioned is an Iranian actress called Nazanin Boniadi. In November 2004, at that time a Scientologist, “Naz” was selected by Church executives to be trained in the art of Being Tom Cruise’s Girlfriend.  She was made over. And for the three months after she was selected she was heavily audited, pressed to reveal her sexual history, and forced to sign a confidentiality agreement, warned that if she were to violate her promise, she’d be isolated from the community.

When Naz was ready, she was introduced to Cruise and sent out on a date with him. They went for dinner and then figure skating in New York. They spent the night in a hotel but did not have sex. He did tell her however that he’d “never felt this way before”. She was then presented with another confidentially agreement and was sworn to not talk to her family and friends about what was happening.

The first month went by without incident. Then they started criticising her. Cruise would “report” her every time she did something that wasn’t to his specifications. Supposedly she wasn’t enough of a fangirl when he needed her to be impressed by his accomplishments. Though she was really, really into him, he complained that she wasn’t demonstrative enough: “I get more love from an extra than I get from you”. And one time she was not adequately deferential in the presence of his bff David Miscavige.  So Tom cut her loose. He sent her away to live at the Celebrity Centre and told her that she didn’t have sufficient fame “power”, like Nicole Kidman, to match him. He let other Scientologists do the breaking up for him. And then when she, confused and alienated, confessed her anguish to someone else, she was deemed a traitor and made to clean toilets. He hooked up with Katie Holmes 3 months later.


I’m telling you, it’s such a delicious read, you have to enjoy it for yourself if you haven’t already. Click here. It’ll help with your summer-is-over depression.

Most of Vanity Fair’s sourcing seems to be from ex-Scientology members. And Paul Haggis has further legitimised the report by confirming to veteran gossip columnist Roger Friedman that this is indeed how the sh-t went down because he’s known Naz for a few years. Haggis, who broke up with Xenu three years ago and has been very candid about the reasons (in short, they’re f-cked up), takes the opportunity yet again to attack the Church’s nefarious practices, including how Naz was persecuted following her failure to meet Tom Cruise and David Miscavige’s exacting standards. Click here for Haggis’s statement about the situation as released to Roger Friedman.

Yes, it’s more chilling information about Tom Cruise’s religion. Yes, it’s totally, totally crazy. But from a Faculty Of Celebrity Studies perspective, what’s also interesting about this Vanity Fair article is that the magazine is willing to go there...and SO aggressively. Tom Cruise may not be as powerful as he was 10 years ago, no doubt, but given that he’s currently headlining three major studio pictures, and - at least publicly - has the support of at least one studio boss (click here to see photos of Tom out for lunch a few weeks ago with Universal head Ron Meyer), he still does wield some influence. But Vanity Fair went balls out on this story, depicting him as a deranged cult puppet and basically calling him a fake. It’s the kind of treatment the magazine usually reserves for famous people who are dead. Since Tom Cruise is very much alive - biologically - there’s only one way to interpret this move -- Vanity Fair doesn’t care if this report irreparably damages their relationship with him. And not only that, they also don’t seem to be worried that insulting Tom Cruise will impact their dealings with other celebrities. Which, I mean, you would have to assume that Graydon Carter and his people did their homework to protect themselves - and I don’t mean from liability or repercussion from the Church but from the Hollywood establishment. There is an unwritten rule between these kinds of publications and their famous subjects and we see it in practice all the time: we won’t challenge you and the piece will be fluffy if you give us one or two juicy soundbites and take some pretty pictures. Vanity Fair has done it before with Tom Cruise -- 7 times in fact! And now he won’t be at one of their post-Oscar parties for a long, long time, never mind agreeing to an interview.

This is how much Scientology is hurting Tom Cruise’s career. Vanity Fair has chosen the sensational over the celebrity; it’s the story that will sell more anyway....

As Katie Holmes, Courage Mother, smiles serenely but not smugly at the playground in New York with Suri less than a week before her first show at New York Fashion Week.

Here’s Tom in Croatia this weekend with Dan and Tanja Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, with whom he’s been friends for a while. Long term recruiting assignment?

Also attached - Nazanin Boniadi at an event in New York in March.