'Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography' released, $100 million lawsuit in planning stages
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography, a biography of actor Tom Cruise written by journalist Andrew Morton, was released in the United States yesterday amidst the potential for a US$100 million lawsuit against its publisher, St. Martin's Press. The book will not be published in Australia, Britain, and New Zealand due to strict libel laws in those countries. Morton had previously written the biography of Diana, Princess of Wales, Diana: Her True Story. The book has reached number nine on Amazon.com's list of top sellers.
The book describes Cruise as the No. 2 leader of the Church of Scientology, blames Scientologists for the breakup of Cruise and actress Nicole Kidman, and states that Cruise's latest mission is to recruit David Beckham and wife Victoria into Scientology. The book also describes how some Scientology followers thought that Cruise's wife Katie Holmes was impregnated with frozen sperm from L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, and Morton compares the situation to Rosemary's Baby "In her more reflective moments, Katie might have felt as if she were in the middle of a real-life version of the horror movie ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ in which an unsuspecting young woman is impregnated with the devil’s child."
|Insinuations that Mr. Cruise is second-in-command of the church are not only false, they are ludicrous. He is neither 2nd nor 100th. Mr. Cruise is a Scientology parishoner and holds no official or unofficial position in the church hierarchy.|
A 15-page statement released by the Church of Scientology denied Morton's assertions of Cruise's No. 2 standing within the organization. In the statement the Church of Scientology claims that Morton did not respond to requests for an interview "The Church of Scientology requested to be interviewed or be presented with any allegations so we could respond. Morton refused despite our insistence in offering our cooperation." The Church of Scientology also specifically responded to the claims regarding Hubbard's frozen sperm: "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."
According to the AFP, "the Church of Scientology is reportedly considering legal action against US publishers St Martin's Press." The Church of Scientology's general counsel, Eliot Abelson, discussed the potential for litigation in an interview with the Mail on Sunday "We are seriously considering legal action and will wait to see the public reaction." Cruise's attorney Bertram Fields expressed thanks for the strict libel laws in Britain "It's not being published in England. The American publishers criticised the libel laws in Britain because they require an author to tell the truth. Well, thank God for the British libel laws." New York's Daily News has reported that the Church of Scientology and lawyers for Cruise are planning a US$100 million lawsuit over the book's publication. Rogers & Cowan, the public relations agency that represents Cruise, issued a statement which criticized Morton for not interviewing "one person who has known or worked with Tom" in the past twenty-five years.
The Church of Scientology statement also pointed out that the book is not being published in Australia, Britain and New Zealand due to the countries' strict libel laws. Australia-based companies Pan Macmillan Australia and retailer Dymocks Booksellers decided not to stock copies of the book on their shelves, due to fears of potential defamation actions against them. A spokesperson for Pan Macmillan Australia stated that they had not received threats from Cruise's representatives or from Scientologists, but that their attorneys had advised them not to sell the book. Don Grover, chief executive for Dymocks Group stated after legal advice their company had decided to "play it safe" - though neither their lawyers or publishers had read the book itself. A representative of MacMillan stated that the book would not be published in New Zealand, but would make no further comment on the matter. A Dymocks New Zealand representative explained that it was possible that the book could be published by their company in New Zealand, but would have to look into it further "The US has different legislation than New Zealand and Australia. There are some issues with the book having legal questions asked and we would need those tidied up before we stock it."
|It’s nonsense for them to say that, because he’s one of the most significant members of the church. I stand by every word in the book. This book is very carefully researched, very carefully vetted.|
Morton spent two years doing research for the book, and spoke with individuals who knew Cruise personally, and executives within the Church of Scientology. Morton stated that some of these executives emailed him, confirming the accuracy of material within the book. Morton described the desire for anonymity by some of the sources in the book "Some people, obviously, will not go on the record to talk about Tom Cruise because they’re scared of him."
In an interview on The Today Show with Meredith Vieira, Morton defended his work and responded to the statement from the Church of Scientology. Morton stated that it was unusual for a church to respond in such a way if Cruise is simply an ordinary member, asking "How many churches support one parishioner — a lowly parishioner — that way?" Morton described the response as an attack "Their policy is always to attack the attacker. Their tactic is to denigrate those who seek to talk about it." He told Vieria that he had attempted to contact the head of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, but "They refused it. I formally asked for it. I was instructed to ask for it by the publisher’s attorneys, and so what they’re saying is nonsense."
Morton explained his motivation for writing the book "He's no longer just an actor or producer, but a powerful advocate for a cult that's out to expand, especially in Europe." Morton stated that his interest was piqued after Cruise jumped on Oprah's couch during a May 23, 2005 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and got into a heated debate with Matt Lauer about his beliefs regarding psychiatry during a June 24, 2005 appearance on The Today Show.
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