Reuters reports that Tom Cruise’s lawyer has threatened to sue the owners of the National Enquirer, American Media, Inc, over the latest issue of the magazine.
Wednesday’s issue of the Enquirer reports supposed details of Cruise’s split with his wife, Katie Holmes.
The two were recently embroiled in a typical Hollywood marriage breakdown, with the press and paparazzi speculating over every detail.
An apparent custody battle ensued, until it emerged the two had come to an amicable agreement for both the separation and custody of their daughter, Suri.
Yesterday Bert Fields, Cruise’s Los Angeles attorney, sent a letter to American Media, Inc stating: “As you were notified in advance, your current issue of National Enquirer makes numerous false and defamatory assertions about our client Tom Cruise.”
The letter goes on to point out descriptions of Cruise which are “vicious, hurtful, damaging lies”, according to Fields.
The letter also states the article will cause Cruise to lose “hundreds of millions of dollars”.
No doubt this figure is a gross exaggeration, but if this ends up in court and the magazine is found to be libellous the Enquirer could be in for a very expensive time.
This isn’t the first time Cruise has been involved in a libel case around a marriage: In 1998 Cruise and ex-wife Nicole Kidman sued Express Newspapers over an article alleging their marriage was a ‘sham’.
The pair were successful and are believed to have received a six-figure payout each plus legal costs in compensation.
This figure is small change to Cruise, who reportedly earns $25 million per film, and pales in comparison to the £2 million bill (£1.5m compensation and £500,000 in legal costs) Count Nikolai Tolstoy received in 1989 after accusing Lord Aldington, a leading Tory figure, of war crimes.
The Tolstoy case illustrates that the seriousness of the accusation has a major bearing on the compensation, as Tolstoy’s claims were printed in pamphlets, not a national newspaper or magazine, and that claims of infidelity – as appears to be the case here – are not really that serious, especially in Hollywood.
Cruise already has an ‘interesting’ reputation due to his religious beliefs and links with Scientology, however, so defending that reputation could be seen as a priority for his career.
What will be interesting to see is whether or not Fields and Cruise are just bluffing, or if they actually intend to go through with a lawsuit. Will the National Enquirer back down and offer a settlement, or will they stand by their claims?