Scientologists deny auditioning for Tom Cruise bride

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The Church of Scientology denounced as "hogwash" a report that it auditioned candidates to be Tom Cruise's girlfriend, while the star's lawyer branded the claims "tired old lies."

Vanity Fair quoted sources as saying the controversial church tested actresses as potential brides in 2004, after his split from Nicole Kidman and before he met and married Katie Holmes, who recently divorced him.

The report included details of a failed match with an Iranian-born actress, who was allegedly dismissed after failing to show enough public affection for the Hollywood A-lister, who is the Church's most high-profile member.

But Cruise's lawyer Bert Fields dismissed the allegations. "Vanity Fair's story is essentially a rehash of tired old lies previously run in the supermarket tabloids, quoting the same bogus 'sources'," he said.

"It's long, boring and false," he added, in a statement emailed to AFP.

The Church of Scientology also poured scorn on the journalist who wrote the story and her sources, who it claimed were "self-promoting apostates."

"The entire story appearing in Vanity Fair is hogwash. There was no project, secret or otherwise, ever conducted by the Church to find a bride (via audition or otherwise) for any member of the Church. Never."

"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," it added in a long statement emailed to AFP.

Cruise's wife Holmes announced on June 28 that she was filing for divorce to end her five-year marriage to Cruise, who was reportedly taken completely by surprise by the bombshell.

The Vanity Fair story claims the Church embarked on a "top-secret" project headed by Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology chief David Miscavige, to find a girlfriend for Cruise three years after his 2001 split from Kidman.

Straplined "What Katie didn't Know" on the front cover of the magazine's October edition, it said actresses who were already Scientologists were called in and told they were auditioning for a training film.

They were then asked a series of questions, including: "What do you think of Tom Cruise?"

As a result of the process, an Iranian-born, London-raised actress, Nazanin Boniadi, was chosen to date Cruise from November 2004, after intensive daily "auditing" the previous month.

The auditing -- a standard Scientology process -- involved her having to reveal her innermost secrets and every detail of her sex life. She was also told to get rid of her teeth braces and red hair highlights.

She was flown to New York and the first month with Cruise was "bliss" -- but by the second month she was found wanting.

Boniadi was criticized notably for complimenting Cruise with the words "very well done" -- allegedly because that implied he was her junior -- and for not showing enough public affection for him.

"I get more love from an extra than I get from you," Cruise allegedly told her at one point. The relationship ended in January 2005.

Cruise and Holmes married in November 2006 after a whirlwind romance and a proposal beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris. They struck a divorce settlement less than two weeks after her June bombshell announcement.

Speculation about the reason for the split centered on Holmes' reported concerns about Cruise's plans to draw the couple's child Suri closer into the Church of Scientology.

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