The aftermath of any celebrity divorce invariably leads to a rash of tabloid cover stories digging into the dirt behind the split. But Tom Cruise's lawyer is putting his foot down over a National Enquirer cover story that depicted a yelling Cruise and haggard-looking Katie Holmes with the headline, "Inside Tom's HOUSE OF HORRORS!"
The cover also promises a look at "the abuse ... punishments ... humiliation" and claims "Katie's tortured life exposed!" even as it screams "the real Tom is a monster!" Though all the supermarket tabs have gone all-in on the couple's shocking and lightning-fast divorce , Cruise's longtime lawyer, Bert Fields, fired off a "blistering" letter to Enquirer publisher, American Media, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
In the letter, which threatens legal action, Fields calls the story "disgraceful and lurid" and speculates that it will cause Cruise "hundreds of million of dollars of professional and personal damages," for which he intends to hold American Media and everyone who participated in the "perpetuation of this scurrilous attack" liable.
Responding to the "monster" cutline on the cover, Fields countered that, "Mr. Cruise is certainly not a 'monster.' He is a caring father, a hardworking actor and, above all, an honest, decent man." Even before the Enquirer issue hit newsstands Cruise's lawyers were threatening to take action, calling the story "the most defamatory cover the Enquirer has ever done."
The Reporter noted that lawyers for Hollywood stars often send warning letters to media outlets before negative articles are published to help bolster a possible future defamation case, in which a court must determine if the outlet knew the story was false and published it with "actual malice." Among the other allegations in the Enquirer story is that the couple's daughter, Suri, was forced to stay in a tiny, windowless room for five months.
Field's cease-and-desist letter also denied the allegations about Suri, writing, "Mr. Cruise's home in Telluride, like his home in Beverly Hills, is a pleasant and loving home ... 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." His letter also denied that Cruise ever engaged in any "abuse," "punishments" or "humiliation" of Holmes.
As for reports in the story that Holmes got a "new apartment [in New York] without Tom's knowledge," Fields said the couple got an apartment together and that Cruise was "completely aware" of it. The attorney demands that the paper retract "each and every one of your false assertions about Mr. Cruise" with the same prominence as the cover story, or else he will bring the paper's "long record of printing and publishing malicious lies about celebrities" to the court's attention. "In addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars in compensatory damages, your conduct cries out for an additional award of punitive damages," he wrote at the end of the letter.
At press time American Media had not responded to requests for comment from the Reporter.