On Sunday, E! premiered its second scripted television show, The Arrangement. But after watching the first episode, I can't help but think that the fictional TV drama takes more than a healthy serving of its story from reality. Although the producers and cast have been straight-up denying that the plot was purposefully inspired by the relationship between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, the pilot has a few more parallels to it than could possibly be coincidental. At the same time, though, the story has enough original elements to keep it fresh, different, interesting and out of the courtroom.
First and foremost, let's take a look at the basic facts about The Arrangement. It's an hourlong drama about an aspiring actress, Megan Morrison (played by Christine Evangelista), and a Hollywood superstar, Kyle West (played by Josh Henderson). When Morrison reads for a part opposite West, he immediately becomes enamored with her, but there's a catch: He is deeply involved in a self-help organization run by his best friend, and the organization thinks it's best for West to ask Morrison to sign a $10 million marriage contract before continuing the relationship. After some reflection, Morrison agrees.
Here's a list of ways that The Arrangement follows the story of TomKat:
It's the story of two Hollywood talents who quickly fall into a passionate, public relationship.
West and Cruise are both closely connected to a mysterious group with a cultlike following. Both men credit the cultlike group with their acting success.
Cruise and Holmes, like Morrison and West, reportedly met during an audition for a blockbuster — in the former case, Holmes was reading for a part in Mission: Impossible III.
Both stories involve a relationship contract (though the contract between Cruise and Holmes has never been solidly verified). While we don't know the full story, rumor has it that, at the very least, the Church of Scientology vetted several of Cruise's potential girlfriends and had them sign nondisclosure agreements.
In both stories, the couple had a whirlwind relationship and became engaged very soon after they met.
In both stories, all parties were rebounding from breakups when they met. In real life, Cruise had somewhat recently divorced Nicole Kidman, and Holmes had broken up with actor Chris Klein a few months earlier. In The Arrangement, Morrison discovers that her boyfriend of two years has been cheating the day before her audition, while West was left at the altar by a fiancée with cold feet.
Obviously, for legal reasons as well as for the good of the story, The Arrangement also takes a number of departures from the relationship between Cruise and Holmes. Here are a few from just the first episode:
In The Arrangement, Morrison is a struggling actress. Holmes was well established when she met Cruise (although, arguably, he was still a bigger star).
In The Arrangement, the cultlike group that West is involved in is a self-help organization called the Institute for the Higher Mind. In real life, Cruise is part of a religion called Scientology.
In The Arrangement, West becomes involved with the Institute through his best friend, who seems like he will play a major role in the series. Cruise became interested in Scientology through his first wife, Mimi Rogers.
The first episode did a fantastic job of developing the Morrison/Holmes character as complex, interesting and likable. Evangelista is an extremely talented actress and someone to watch. The pilot also did well establishing the tone of the story and setting up what are sure to be at least a few dramatic plot points later this season. If the story follows the rest of the Cruise/Holmes roller coaster, we are in for lots of ups and downs, not to mention some very shady moves from the Institute of Higher Learning. Since we will probably never know the full story of what happened between Cruise and Holmes, The Arrangement will have to fill in some big plot holes. But whether the story continues to follow the rise and decline of TomKat or whether it blazes a new path, I'll be watching.
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