Friday, June 21, 2024

Flashback: How Tom Cruise Turned His Mom into a Scientology Nanny


MARCH 2007:

It hasn’t been a great week for Tom Cruise, PR-wise.

Perhaps inspired by Cruise’s Scientology fundraiser in New York last week, both the Star and US Weekly are featuring Cruise and wife Katie Holmes on their covers. The subject of their stories: a possible divorce, brought about by Katie’s frustrations with Scientology.

While Cruise should be worrying about what’s left of his career, instead he seems to be digging his heels in deeper when it comes to his religious devotion. He doesn’t seem to realize that a whole new generation now associates Cruise with Xenu, aliens and science fiction.

On top of this, word comes to us from Marco Island, Fla., where Tom’s mom, Mary Lee Mapother, lived for nearly two decades until exactly a year ago.

As I’ve reported before, it was roughly a year ago that Tom’s mother left her Florida home for Tom’s Beverly Hills manse and never returned.

This was a shock to her longtime second husband, Jack South, who accompanied her on a trip to see new baby granddaughter Suri. After going west with Mary Lee, South went south and east. He returned to Florida alone.

Since then, with perhaps one exception, Mary Lee Mapother has not once contacted her many friends in Marco Island.

“She just vanished,” says a friend. “It’s like there was a death.”

Jack South, friends say, has been consoling himself with his children from his first marriage, and with friends who can commiserate with him.

What happened to these people sounds a lot like what happened to Holmes’ former friends — including her “Dawson’s Creek” castmates — when Holmes went out to be interviewed by Cruise in April 2005 for “Mission: Impossible 3” and never returned home.

November 20, 2006– Tom Cruise and his wedding to Katie Holmes

Opera singer Andrea Bocelli sang at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ crazy wedding as a “gift,” but he refused to sing “Ave Maria” during the ceremony.

The reason: Bocelli, a Catholic, didn’t want to disrespect the Roman Catholic Church.

That makes him the only Catholic who actually took a stand as Cruise, who was born Catholic, orchestrated a non-Catholic Church sanctioned wedding right in the Vatican’s backyard.

Not even Holmes’ poor parents, whose other three daughters were married in the faith, could put a stop to the proceedings.

The question now is, what does the future hold for Cruise? The New York Post called him a “nut” on its front page Sunday. “Saturday Night Live” mocked him in its update section for having space aliens at the reception. He has no idea that he’s the object of worldwide ridicule for this ludicrous pageant. Cruise is clueless. In a way, he’s become the new Michael Jackson.

It didn’t help that if the wedding guests weren’t members of Scientology (John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Leah Remini, Jenna Elfman, etc.) they were otherwise people to whom Cruise is more or less a stranger: Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Richard Gere, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith and Bruce Willis .Each and every one of them was there because they were connected to Cruise through his publicist or talent agent.

Of course, new best pal Brooke Shields, who was so offended by Cruise 18 months ago, was there (just wait ’til we hear about Brooke or producer-husband Chris Henchy doing a deal with United Artists).

You might ask: Where were the people who used to be billed by publicists back in the day as the Cruise pals? That list included Jamie Foxx, Cuba Gooding Jr., Paul Newman, Steven Spielberg and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Indeed, they were not present, although “Jerry Maguire” director Cameron Crowe and “Mission: Impossible 3” helmer J.J. Abrams happily showed up.

Cruise’s best man, according to wire reports, was Scientology chief David Miscavige. Also close by Cruise’s side: Tom Davis, the son of actress Anne Archer, a kind of a second-in-command to Miscavige and Cruise’s steady companion.

And while Katie’s sister, Nancy, was listed as the maid of honor, Holmes’ more recent best friend, Jessica Feshbach Rodriguez — daughter of Scientology’s first family and Katie’s “minder” since she joined Cruise’s camp in April 2005 — was front and center.

Not there: Any of Katie’s friends with the exception of a couple of super-secret loyalists. But no costars from any TV shows or films were invited, including the cast of “Dawson’s Creek.”

Not invited: Jack South, who for 20 years has been the husband of Cruise’s mother, Mary Lee Mapother. He was still at home in Florida late last week watching football on TV and insisting to me during a very nice phone call that his wife had not left him forever.

I reported in this space a few weeks ago that Cruise’s mother had headed to Cruise’s Beverly Hills mansion in April when baby Suri was born.

Mapother had for years been a Eucharistic minister at the Roman Catholic Church in San Marco Island, Fla., but apparently she too has joined Scientology, along with Cruise’s sisters. Two of the sisters homeschool Cruise’s adopted children with Nicole Kidman, Connor and Isabella, in Scientology.

In the end, the wedding may be a fitting final chapter in Cruise’s career, a blissful blaze-out. He seems to have no idea that in America, at least, there are no fans left to take him seriously.

It will be all but impossible now for a new generation of film fans to see past his erratic public behavior, the Oprah couch shenanigans, the decrying of psychiatry and now the rejection of Catholicism for a religion invented by a science-fiction writer. Luckily, he has lots and lots of money.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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