Sep. 5, 2012 at 9:09 AM ET
Vanity Fair's recent cover story about the Church of Scientology's efforts to find Tom Cruise a spouse continues to generate discussion. The article's author joined Matt Lauer on TODAY Wednesday to discuss her findings -- and the ensuing controversy.
As writer Maureen Orth explained, "(Cruise) can't find the Scientology soul mate that he needs to be the No. 2 most important person in the religion, which is what he was called by the head of Scientology."
Which is what led, reportedly, to the Church's seeking out the right Scientologist to pair with Cruise. They landed on actress Nazanin Boniadi, who dated Cruise for a few months in 2004 until their relationship soured, according to Orth's article.
As Orth explained, when Cruise was married to Nicole Kidman, the pair "drifted away" from Scientology; the Church then ramped up efforts to get them back by "auditing" ("their kind of confessional") Cruise once a day for almost a year, and collecting information from spies working in the couple's home.
"Every single thing that went on in that house between them was being reported back by their special assistants, who were a married couple in that house," said Orth.
The Church of Scientology denounced the story in a statement: "Vanity Fair relied exclusively on a small group of anti-Scientologists, a handful of self-promoting apostates who are admitted liars and suborners of perjury. ... Indeed, the article fails to quote a single source who is not a vociferous anti-Scientologist."
Tom Cruise's lawyer, Bert Fields, has since responded to the article independently of the Church, and told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement, "Vanity Fair's story is essentially a rehash of tired old lies previously run in the supermarket tabloids, quoting the same bogus 'sources.' It’s long, boring and false."
But Orth argued for her piece, saying that "Scientology does not know everybody I talked to. ... All of my sources in my article with very few exceptions are on the record."
When Lauer asked if they were all ex-members, she told him that not all had left the faith. "Some of them are still Scientologists. ... They have gripes against the current leadership of Scientology, but they are not against the religion necessarily."
Orth wouldn't confirm or deny that she had spoken with Boniadi, who she said was "traumatized by this whole experience," but she did say that she was unable to speak with Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman or Katie Holmes.
"There's very few people who were willing to talk," she said.