Former Scientology Chief Says Church ‘Tried to Stop’ Cult Film ‘The Master’; Labels Legal Letter to ‘Vanity Fair’ Over Controversial Tom Cruise Article ‘Hot Air’ (EXCLUSIVE)

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'The Master' & Scientology
How much trouble does the film spell for the Church of Scientology?
The highest ranking defector of the Church of Scientology has labeled the organization’s scathing eight-page letter to Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter as nothing more than “hot air.”

Mike Rinder — the Church of Scientology’s one-time chief spokesman and executive director of the Office of Special Affairs — said Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise and the actor’s close friend David Miscavige, the leader of the controversial organization, “have lost all credibility” in the wake of the sensational magazine report that claimed the organization embarked on a secret project to find the actor a girlfriend following his 2001 divorce from actress Nicole Kidman.

“The cease and desist letter to Vanity Fair was hot air. Period. Miscavige and Tom Cruise know they cannot sue as they could never be cross-examined under oath,” Rinder, who left the church in 2007, told Celebuzz.

In the rebuttal letter, revealed on Monday, the Church rejected editor Carter’s controversial October cover story claiming Cruise, 50, auditioned actress Nazanin Boniadi as his wife.

Jeffrey K. Riffer of the law firm Elkins Kalt Weintraub Reuben Gartside LLP accused the magazine of “shoddy journalism.”

“If rabid anti-Scientologist/anti-David Miscavige apostates long ago kicked out of the Church are considered ‘sources’ of information, then certainly a respected and objective Vanity Fair employee with no axe to grind and who has seen Mr. Miscavige at Church convocations and celebrations year after year in the present time is a far better source of information,” the attorney wrote.

Still, it was the latest blow to the beleaguered church, which is reeling after the release of Paul Thomas Anderson’s film The Master — said to be based on Scientology.

The Master stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a war veteran who creates a faith based organization, with a team of disciples played by Joaquin PhoenixAmy Adams and Laura Dern. It was produced by Harvey Weinstein‘s The Weinstein Co.

“The Weinsteins may receive a similar letter — but it will no more of a threat than the empty bleatings sent to Vanity Fair,” Rinder said, via email.

“The only difference being that they won’t sue Vanity Fair because the story is true, and they won’t sue the Weinsteins because the story is not true — and you cannot defame a dead person.”

Rinder, who was the face of the Church during the controversial BBC documentary titled Scientology and Me from investigative journalist John Sweeney, predicted the Church is desperate to combat Anderson’s cult drama, which won several of the top awards at the Venice Film Festival.

“The organization (read Miscavige) is probably troubled by The Master because they tried to stop it and couldn’t,” the former high-ranking Scientology official added.

“In my estimation — and I have not seen the movie — based on the statements of Paul Thomas Anderson, the church would have been much smarter to take him at his word — that this is a movie “inspired by” events in L. Ron Hubbard’s life and use it as a springboard to promote to people the real story of the life of L. Ron Hubbard.”

The Daily Buzz discussed The Master and more in our Fall Movie preview, below.