Friday, January 25, 2008
Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography, a biography of actor Tom Cruise written by journalist Andrew Morton, has hit the number one spot on Amazon.com‘s Top Sellers list and The New York Times Best Sellers list.
Morton’s book was published January 15, and hit number one on Amazon.com’s Top Sellers list on January 18. Yesterday, the book hit the number one spot on The New York Times Best Sellers list. The book is not for sale in Britain or Ireland, and the New York Post has reported that British tourists to the United States are buying copies of the book to bring back home.
Morton makes some controversial assertions in the book, including that Cruise is second in command at the Church of Scientology, and that Scientology was the cause of Cruise and Nicole Kidman‘s separation.
Cruise’s attorney, Bertram Fields released a statement which said that the book was “absolutely loaded with false statements.” Cruise has threatened a USD$100 million lawsuit against Morton and the book’s publisher, St. Martin’s Press. The Church of Scientology also responded to Morton’s claims in the book. In a 15-page statement, the Church called the book “bigoted” and a “defamatory assault,” and said that Cruise “holds no official or unofficial position in the Church hierarchy.”
Morton was interviewed by the Associated Press, and responded to some of the statements made by the Church of Scientology. When asked if he had attempted to interview Cruise for the book, Morton said “I asked Tom for an interview and he declined.” In response to a statement released by Cruise’s publicists that he had not interviewed “one person who has known or worked with Tom” in the past twenty-five years, Morton responded “I interviewed everyone from scriptwriters to producers to actors to actresses to teachers to girlfriends to pupils to Scientologists to people who have audited him.” When questioned about his assertion that Cruise is “second in command” of the Church of Scientology, Morton stated “Scientology would be a shadow of what it is today if it had not been for the involvement of Tom Cruise.”
|Mr. Morton, apparently unfazed by the reputation of the group’s notoriously hair-triggered legal department, leaves few stones unhurled.|
Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that parts of the book “push the limits of responsible reporting.” A review in the Chicago Tribune was also critical, and Teresa Budasi wrote “If you read Andrew Morton’s unauthorized biography of Tom Cruise with a fan’s curiosity in one hand and a thinking person’s skepticism in the other, you’ll likely end up in the same place you were before you read it: not all that interested.” In his review of the book, Dave Shiflett of The Wall Street Journal commented on the litigious nature of the Church of Scientology, writing “Mr. Morton, apparently unfazed by the reputation of the group’s notoriously hair-triggered legal department, leaves few stones unhurled.”
Shortly before the book’s publication, a video produced by the Church of Scientology featuring Tom Cruise promoting his beliefs appeared on the Internet. After the Church of Scientology sent a legal complaint to the online video-sharing website YouTube, the video was taken down from that site, but is available on Gawker.com. A group of Internet users calling themselves “Anonymous” subsequently announced a “War on Scientology” including denial-of-service attacks against the Church of Scientology’s main websites. Andreas Heldal-Lund, founder of the Scientology-critical site and Norway-based non-profit organization Operation Clambake released a statement on Tuesday critical of the actions of the “Anonymous” group, saying that the Church of Scientology deserves the right to freedom of speech.
|People lose sight of the fact that Tom Cruise is actually a person. I feel for him.|
Actor Jerry O’Connell, who had previously acted alongside Cruise in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire, produced a parody of the Cruise video which was released on Wednesday. Other Hollywood acquaintances of Cruise, including comedians Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller, released statements defending Cruise and criticizing those who have mocked him for his beliefs. Sandler stated “To see anyone’s private life invaded and mocked like this is sickening,” and Stiller commented “People lose sight of the fact that Tom Cruise is actually a person. I feel for him.”
On Wednesday the Associated Press reported that Cruise will be a presenter at the Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony on Sunday.