Updated March 2, 11:30 a.m. PT: Pretty much everyone involved with The Arrangement still insists the show has nothing to do with rumors about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, but also they’re totally fine with people thinking they’re lying.
“I think when people hear the premise of our show, more times than not the first thing they’ll think of is Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. But I know more about the show than they do, considering we’ve shot the whole first season, so I know that it’s really not at all based on them,” lead actor Josh Henderson, who plays A-list actor Kyle, told Rotten Tomatoes. “We’re telling our own story with unique characters. But I’m fine with people making that comparison, because at the end of the day, everyone is familiar with that story and if it gets them to watch the show, I’m all about it.”
I mean, that’s a little condescending, but OK.
Michael Vartan, who plays Terence, a mentor at the cult Henderson’s character belongs to, shared a similar sentiment.
“Throughout the course of Hollywood, there have been documented cases of contract marriages, like back when the studios first started. So to me, the show is really about a contract marriage. It’s obviously about all these characters, but that has happened in Hollywood [before],” Vartan said. “If it was about Scientology, I really did not do my homework, because I didn’t do any research on Scientology whatsoever. There are so many self-help groups in our country today. Because of the size of the Institute and the power and the heavy element of the Hollywood experience, I think [Scientology is] a natural assumption, but as far as the writers and the cast were concerned, we never really even thought of that.”
Vartan also went into some other details about the show, like how his character is desperate to keep Henderson’s character, an A-list actor, as a member of the Institute for the Higher Mind, because nothing about this sounds anything like Tom Cruise’s relationship with Scientology at all.
“He loves Kyle, he really does. Terence found him, he discovered him, he helped him change his life, but … nothing is more important to me than the Institute,” Vartan explained. “The Institute has gotten big enough now that maybe without Kyle it would survive, but Terence isn’t interested in finding out. He still needs Kyle — he’s the biggest movie star in the world, so he’s a great poster boy.”
Nope. That’s definitely a completely original storyline and not about Tom Cruise. OK guys.
Finally, a TV show is going to show us exactly what went down between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes when he paid her to be his wife for five years.
Oh, just kidding. A new E! series, The Arrangement, shows a famous actor paying a much less famous actress a whole bunch of money to marry him, and it’s basically exactly what all the 2005 rumors said was happening between Cruise and Holmes. But the show’s creator, Jonathan Abrahams, insists that’s not what’s going on here.
At the Television Critics Association winter press tour, he told the audience, “the series is not inspired by the rumored circumstances surrounding Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ ill-fated union, nor is it a takedown of Scientology.” He also said that the fictional organization in his series, called the Institute of the Higher Mind, is “not a religion,” even though characters refer to it as a cult in the preview. He says his series is “a truly unique story that takes place in Hollywood.”
Uh, OK. If you say so. But just to make sure we have all the facts here, let’s recap what went down between Cruise and Holmes.
It was 2005, and Cruise was fresh off his divorce from Nicole Kidman. The rumors around Hollywood were that Cruise had approached several young actresses, including Sofía Vergara, Scarlett Johansson and Katie Holmes, with a five-year marriage contract. Cruise would get to rehab his image and shake the increasing rumors that he was gay, and his wife would get a career boost and cash. Win-win… if you don’t count the creepy arranged marriage vibes.
Tony Ortega, an editor of the Village Voice who covered Scientology for more than a decade, making him the closest thing the world has to an expert on Cruise and Holmes’ relationship, told the Huffington Post in 2012 that he didn’t think the whole arranged marriage thing actually happened, but that those rumors did have kind of a basis in reality.
“That urban legend probably grew out of a misunderstanding of what actually did occur,” Ortega said. “Several young women were vetted by the church and ‘tried out’ as Tom’s next wife before Katie Holmes was chosen.”
Ortega also said women approached by Cruise were required to sign pretty strict nondisclosure agreements — a “standard procedure in the church.”
It’s long been rumored that the reason we know so little about Cruise and Holmes’ divorce is because of some kind of contract she was forced to sign requiring her to keep the details of their split out of the press. And if their marriage was arranged and she was paid to be Cruise’s wife, it would make sense that all involved parties would want to keep that story out of the headlines.
So while we may never know the exact truth of what happened between Cruise and Holmes, it’s a pretty safe bet that The Arrangement isn’t the “truly unique story” that Abrahams is shilling. While it may not be based on the real story of Cruise and Holmes’ relationship, it’s way too close to the rumors not to have been inspired by the former power couple.
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