July 11, 2012 6:19pm PT by Matthew Belloni
Tom Cruise Lawyer Threatens National Enquirer Over 'House of Horrors' Cover (Exclusive)
Tom Cruise's lawyer is threatening to sue the National Enquirer over a cover story that claims the actor is a "monster" who "abused" wife Katie Holmes and subjected daughter Suri to a five-month stay in a "tiny, windowless room."
In a blistering letter sent July 11 by longtime Cruise attorney Bert Fields to Enquirer publisher American Media, a copy of which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Fields claims the tabloid's most recent cover story is "disgraceful and lurid" and will cause the actor "hundreds of millions of dollars of professional and personal damages, for which we intend to hold American Media, and everyone who participated in the perpetuation of this scurrilous attack, jointly and severally liable."
Read the full letter here.
Fields writes: "Your cover announces, as a fact, that 'THE REAL TOM CRUISE IS A MONSTER.' Mr. Cruise is certainly not a 'monster.' He is a caring father, a hardworking actor and, above all, an honest, decent man." The cover also includes the headline "Inside Tom's House of Horrors" alongside a picture of Cruise's Beverly Hills residence as well as allegations that Holmes led a "tortured life" with the actor before filing for divorce on June 28.
THR reached out to American Media for comment on the letter and will update with a response.
Cruise and his Scientology religion have been the subject of intense media coverage in the wake of the Holmes divorce, which has been settled. Fields and his law firm, L.A.'s Greenberg Glusker, first threatened American Media on July 10 when an image of the forthcoming Enquirer cover story leaked. "This is the most defamatory cover the Enquirer has ever done," wrote Greenberg Glusker attorney Aaron Moss to American Media senior media counsel Cameron Stracher in an e-mail obtained by THR. "You need to stop this from coming out tomorrow."
Lawyers for Hollywood stars often send warning letters to media outlets before negative articles are published because the letters help strengthen a potential defamation case, where a court would evaluate whether the outlet knew the story was false and published it with "actual malice." When the full Enquirer story hit newsstands July 11 -- claiming, among other things, that the Cruise-Holmes marriage was "a living nightmare" and Suri was forced to stay for five months in a tiny, windowless room -- Fields followed up with the formal cease-and-desist letter.
"Mr. Cruise's home in Telluride, like his home in Beverly Hills, is a pleasant and loving home," the letter reads. "Suri was not forced to stay for five months in a tiny windowless room. She spent most of her time with Tom and Katie. She slept in a nursery adjoining their bedroom. It has a window."
The letter ends with a threat of litigation if the Enquirer does not "retract each and every one of your false allegations about Mr. Cruise with the same prominence and emphasis as you gave your original false and defamatory assertions." Fields also threatens to "call the Court's attention to your long record of printing and publishing malicious lies about celebrities in order to enrich yourselves at their expense."
Fields writes that "these disgusting lies about Mr. Cruise will be there for all time, to be read by his children and, someday, his grandchildren."