The new issue of Rolling Stone should drive a permanent wedge between Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner.
Writer Janet Reitman spent nine months reporting and writing a 13,000 word piece on Scientology, the mysterious religion with which both movie stars are famously associated.
Reitman peels back Scientology layer by layer, meticulously interviewing everyone and anyone, and draws unsurprising conclusions: that to believe in this religion means also subscribing to a belief in aliens, for one thing. And by aliens I mean creatures from other planets and galaxies.
Reitman so carefully dissects the history of Scientology inventor L. Ron Hubbard, his beliefs and how they’ve been disseminated by a new generation that one can only conclude that Cruise and Travolta share these same ideals.
Reitman relates stories of Scientology children being sent away to “boot camps” for brainwashing, and how those who want to leave are then harassed and ostracized.
By the time I finished reading the story, all I could think was that Katie Holmes ’ parents must be beside themselves since their daughter joined this group.
Reitman also relates in the piece how, when she was just embarking on the project, Cruise’s sister LeAnne Devette and a Scientology official came to Rolling Stone’s offices to see what she was up to. They called critics of the church “wackos” and invited Reitman to come and see the “real” Scientology.
Despite the invite, it took five months, Reitman, said, to work out the details.
It was not like just walking into a church, synagogue or mosque for a prayer service. Indeed, the details of what goes inside the Scientology centers — being hooked up to E meters, having all sorts of mental evaluations, etc. — sounds creepier than ever.
None of this is news, exactly, but it’s a big deal considering the story appears in Rolling Stone. Wenner’s friendships with Travolta and Cruise are legendary. A terrible Travolta movie, "Perfect," featured the actor as a Rolling Stone reporter. Wenner made a cameo appearance in it.
Cruise is also a longtime pal, dating back to his "Risky Business" days. For years, when Cruise did movie publicity, it was unofficially known that he would do a Rolling Stone cover first.
In the days before Bonnie Fuller took over US Weekly -- when it was known as Wenner Media's US magazine -- that magazine bent over backward to do puff pieces on Cruise.
What now? For Travolta, the Reitman story doesn’t much matter. He’s very wealthy, and his career is pretty much on auto-glide.
But for Cruise, it’s a different matter. Industry insiders and Cruise-ologists will be watching to see how Rolling Stone and Us Weekly are treated by — or how they treat — the upcoming release of Cruise’s "Mission: Impossible 3."
One thing is clear: for Wenner and Cruise, there’s no going back now — especially since Reitman has included long, unflattering descriptions of Scientology higher-up Tom Davis, the son of actress and Scientologist Anne Archer.
Davis, 33, is widely known to be Cruise’s best friend and even resembles him. They are inseparable. When Reitman asks Davis what happens to those who leave Scientology, Davis replies: “Then I guess not believing in Scientology means more to them than not seeing their family."
They’re on their way if they’re not already here. The nominees are filing in, and with them all their friends, associates and supporters.
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Unlike the Grammys, which center on the Four Seasons Hotel, or the Golden Globes, Oscar central is two places: the Chateau Marmont Hotel, and a temporary aerie above Laurel Canyon called SoHo House.
The latter is actually a mansion rented by the private club from London and New York. And it’s hopping.
Last night, Sean Penn held court at a dinner table with Sienna Miller and Dennis Hopper. Across the room, Oscar nominees Keira Knightley and Jake Gyllenhaal had their own group chowing down. Jessica Alba made an appearance, too, as did Josh Hartnett and Tears for Fears’ Kurt Smith.
In another corner, I ran into Vanity Fair’s Wendy Stark with famed record producer Richard Perry, the man who invented Rod Stewart’s latest career phase as a crooner and also recorded all the great hit songs of Carly Simon, Harry Nilsson, the Pointer Sisters, among others.
After having a huge hit with Carly’s "Moonlight Serenade" album last year, Perry is reuniting with Art Garfunkel for a CD of standards. Discerning pop fans will recall that Perry was responsible for Garfunkel’s now classic 1975 album, "Breakaway."
SoHo House is also populated by the movers and shakers of young Hollywood, and the payoff is that it’s free. Because it’s in a private home, and an offshoot of a private club, no money changes hands. It’s an annual treat, and nearly impossible to get into. But once access is achieved, the rewards are many.
Tonight, British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is said to be doing the cooking. And on Sunday night, the word is that this is where talent agent Patrick Whitesell and movie exec Mike DeLuca are having their annual post-post-late night Oscar party.
Meanwhile, tonight kicks off a long weekend of soirees. But tomorrow night, all eyes will be on the Chateau Marmont Hotel. U2’s Bono is hosting a private gathering for his One Campaign charity, with guests expected like George Clooney, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, among others.
Just prior to this, Mariah Carey — fresh from her NAACP Image Award win — is rumored to be the guest performer at a pre-party for Saturday’s Night Before Gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg, as they say. What about the actual Oscars, you might be thinking? Don’t worry, they’re coming, but it takes a few late, late nights to build up a resistance for Hollywood’s longest night of nights.