Cruise, Travolta: Rolling Stone Gathers Moss

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.”


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Mar. 2, 2006 Column
Roger Friedman
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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday March 3, 2006.
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