Quackery's envoy: the gospel on Cruise
Sydney Morning Herald
January 17, 2008
Biographer Andrew Morton has turned his pen on the "phoney" actor, his faith and his "frigid" former wife, writes Ian Munro in Detroit.
SURI, the daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, conceived with the frozen sperm of the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard. Rumours that Cruise is gay and his former wife, Nicole Kidman, was blackmailed by Scientologists as their marriage ended.
It's all there in a new, unauthorised biography of the Hollywood heart-throb, but readers looking to be shocked might feel let down when the book does not try to defend any of it as true.
The blackmail claim is recycled from an old newspaper story. And although he alleges the idea was taken seriously inside the cult, the book's author, Andrew Morton, dismisses the "frozen sperm" claim on the same page that he airs it.
Meanwhile, Morton's two-year research into his celebrity subject turned up numerous former girlfriends who testify to Cruise's enthusiastic heterosexuality.
Amateur psychologists will make what they like of Cruise's evident homophobia. His is an aversion so powerful, according to one former high school girlfriend, that the sight of men in women's clothes prevented him from sitting through a performance of La Cage aux Folles.
What the book does assert is that Cruise has become the Scientology cult's principal propagandist in trying to win recruits and extend its reach into Europe. His method includes targeting high-profile individuals, such as the soccer star David Beckham and the businessman James Packer.
It suggests Kidman's fading interest in the cult may have prompted Cruise to end their marriage and that some cult members feared "a lukewarm Nicole could fatally compromise Tom's commitment to his faith".
It also alleges that Cruise suffered a crisis of faith when he was admitted to the highest levels of the cult, only to learn that it was founded in the belief that Earth had been colonised by space aliens.
Morton is best known for his 1992 account of the break-up of the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana, the Princess of Wales, for which she was his main source.
His latest book begins as a biography of Cruise and ends as an attack on the quackery of his Scientology faith.
"Just as Bob Geldof and Bono have effectively used their contacts and celebrity to fight against Third World poverty, so Tom Cruise has campaigned for his controversial religion," Morton writes.
"The difference is that Bono and Geldof want to change the world, while Tom is part of an organisation that wants to conquer the planet."
Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography went on sale in the US on Tuesday morning.
Several major Australian booksellers, including Dymocks, are refusing to stock the book following threats of legal action by Scientologists. Angus & Robertson says it will import the book to fill order requests.
While he does not show that Kidman was blackmailed, Morton recycles a report that suggested personal details she revealed while being "audited" by the cult might have been used against her.
He alleges that the cult uses the release of an individual's "ethics files" to ruin former members who criticise it openly.
Morton portrays Cruise as controlling, emotionally needy, aggressive and inclined to discard friends who are no longer of use to him.
Highly privileged within Scientology circles, he and Kidman had a private entrance to the cult's so-called Celebrity Centre on Hollywood's Franklin Avenue, and there was a tennis court and gymnasium for Cruise's private use at its headquarters in the remote California desert. For Kidman, there was a private garden.
Kidman does not escape the book unscathed, being described as a prima donna and an employer ready to find fault with domestic staff but never acknowledging how smoothly they ran her home.
"Although she was a recent convert, Nicole was not above using Scientology techniques to admonish staff," Morton writes.
An unnamed "associate" makes the actress sound spoiled, uninterested and with "an enduring sense of boredom, like a 1920s flapper".
While the book suggests Cruise's commitment to Scientology split the couple, it is kinder to him in other ways. Cruise is portrayed as clearly the more engaged of the two as a parent. It is alleged he came to see Kidman as a cold, neurotic, frigid mother, perfect for the part she played in the film The Others.
The book portrays Cruise as ruthlessly ambitious and intent on gaining personal and professional advantage out of any situation.
It also suggests the actor is a phoney. "Those who have interviewed and even audited him [a Scientology process] have come away from an encounter feeling that they have been subjected to a performance rather than a personality," Morton writes.
Cruise had no immediate comment to make on the book, his publicist's office told Agence France-Presse. The Church of Scientology said the book was "a bigoted, defamatory assault replete with lies".
The church said in a statement it had asked to be interviewed or presented with allegations so that it could respond, but that Morton had refused.
"Insinuations that Mr Cruise is second-in-command of the church are not only false, they are ludicrous," it said.
"Is it possible Katie [Holmes - Cruise's wife] and Tom's baby could be the vessel for L. Ron Hubbard's spirit? The church does not, and has never believed that any newborn is the reincarnation or the offspring of its founder, Mr Hubbard.
"Was Katie impregnated by L. Ron Hubbard's frozen sperm? … As distasteful as it is to have to say it, Mr Hubbard's sperm was never frozen."
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