LOS ANGELES – It has been exactly one week since Katie Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise, five years after their fairy tale wedding in an Italian castle.
Now their divorce saga is being played out in the media like a fairy tale, with Holmes the fair princess escaping the evil villain, her Scientologist husband Cruise.
Over the past seven days, international headlines have included “Katie Holmes Escapes Camp Cuckoo,” “Katie Protecting Suri From ‘Spy’ Training,” and “Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Divorce: What Makes Clever Women Stick By Creeps For So Long?”
So why is it that Cruise, who is known, particularly in reporter circles, for being consistently kind, gracious and accommodating (qualities not always found among the A-list), being portrayed as an evil, controlling figure?
"Tom Cruise will be painted as the bad guy in the narrative about his divorce from Katie Holmes irrespective of any facts that may emerge. His comments about mental well-being and his connection with the Church of Scientology all combine to make him appear to be kooky to many people and that image now fits into any storyline that involves his name,” PR guru Gene Grabowski told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column.
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Human behavior guru Dr. Patrick Wanis concurred that regardless of what happens as the custody battle goes down, Holmes will always have the advantage of public opinion on her side.
“Tom will be seen as the evil/bad guy because she is playing the victim card while also playing the protective mother. The divorce is being portrayed as a battle over religions – Catholicism versus Scientology – and the public generally fears Scientology,” Wanis said. “Katie is being portrayed as fleeing the grips of powerful and controlling man who wants to brainwash her daughter, and women in particular are going to side with Katie, because women believe that they know better than men do about how to raise children.”
According to longtime entertainment reporter Michael Cohen, Cruise has himself to blame. Cohen says the “Top Gun” star’s image took a turn for the worst the moment he jumped on Oprah’s couch to declare his love for Holmes back in 2005.
“Public scrutiny comes with the job, and perhaps no celeb in the entire world has been more controlling of what they look like and say than Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise had one of the most sparkling Hollywood personas until his famous incident where he jumped on Oprah's couch,” he explained. “That was certainly when public opinion began to sway towards thinking Tom was kooky. That sentiment was only compounded with his association with the Church of Scientology which is confusing at best for many of his fans.”
Adding fuel to the fire, it seems Holmes is determined to let the world know that she is as happy as can be, and certainly not holed up inside her New York apartment sobbing over her broken marriage and the bitter custody battle that is likely to come.
On Monday, she was all smiles while playing guest judge on an episode of Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” and on Tuesday she stepped out with daughter Suri for ice-cream, where she was snapped happily laughing. On Thursday the mom and daughter made a gleeful excursion to the Children's Museum of the Arts in Soho, Manhattan.
But those smiles may not last, as it now appears as though Team Cruise is carefully getting their ducks in a row and preparing to fight back.
TMZ reports that those close to Cruise think Holmes’ camp is leaking false stories that she was trying to save Suri from Scientology. They say Holmes was committed to the religious organization, which had nothing to do with the divorce. Cruise’s supporters also told the website that Holmes’posse has even made it very challenging for the actor to talk to his daughter.
Another Cruise source tells FOX411's Pop Tarts column that his reputation as the “bad guy” in the split is unjust, and that working with Tom over the years has been nothing but positive.
“He is by far the nicest A-list star I’ve ever dealt with,” said the source. “He always took time out to thank everyone, shake their hands, and always really cared about his wife and kids."
Some also argue that Holmes knew what she was getting herself into when she said “I Do.”
“Katie chose to marry Hollywood’s most powerful man, someone who clearly supports and promotes Scientology," said Wanis. “Cruise’s adopted children are still in Scientology, so it would have been obvious to her that it was Cruise’s plan to raise any future children in Scientology.”
Reps for Holmes and Cruise did not respond to requests for comment.