Most new religions, like most new businesses, die a quick crib death. Scientology, however, is not about to disappear. Scholars put the number of adherents in this country at about 25,000—a far cry from the millions of members its leaders claim, but hardly insignificant for a group that was founded about 50 years ago. Despite all its bad press, the allegations that it terrorizes its critics, its cult-like secrecy and hounding of apostates, and its very weird science-fiction cosmogony, it has become a part of the fabric of communities across the country.
Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! Was Katie Holmes the victim of Scientology's strange traditions? Was Tom Cruise blindsided? An very serious inquiry into their very public marriage. NYMag | 21 min (5131 words) Just hold on a second: the awesome power of the television cliffhanger. The New Yorker | 14 min (3,572 words) Why do writers write? For money? For fame? For inner peace?
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey taped her farewell show yesterday at the United Center in Chicago. In front of 13,000 spectators (13,000!), a host of celebrities made surprise guest appearances, including Michael Jordan, Tom Cruise, Maya Angelou, Will Smith, and Madonna. (Also present was former California first lady and Oprah pal Maria Shriver, who took the opportunity to get in a jibe at her estranged husband Arnold Schwarzenegger.) For 25 years, Winfrey has been the most popular talk show host in the United States, and one of the most powerful women in the country.
A couple years ago I wrote a column explaining why I actually like Mitt Romney despite (indeed, because of) his transparent fakery. But David Frum has now made basically the same case in brilliant fashion: I sometimes imagine that Romney approaches politics in the same spirit that the CEO of Darden Restaurants approaches cuisine. Darden owns Olive Garden, Longhorn steakhouses, and Red Lobster among other chains. Now suppose that Darden’s data show a decline in demand for mid-priced steak restaurants and a rising response to Italian family dining.
New York magazine's Vulture demonstrates that it is no longer possible to be ironic when it comes to Broadway: A little over a year ago, this Vulture editor wrote a silly comic for New York's 2008 Fall Preview issue imagining Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's life in Manhattan during the time she was performing in Broadway's All My Sons. In said comic's last panel, Tom made his own stage debut in Cocktail: the Musical, a made-up show we thought was so stupid-seeming that no producer could ever pitch it to backers with a straight face. Oops!
What is the most boring job in the world? It’s a question that filmmakers have addressed, usually obliquely, countless times. Often, the dullness of a feigned career is offered in ironic counterpoint to the excitement of a real one--Tom Cruise’s cover identity working as a traffic analyst in Mission Impossible III (which actually sounded somewhat fascinating) or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sunlighting as a software salesman in True Lies (which decidedly did not).
When MGM moved Tom Cruise's Nazi biopic Valkyrie from a summer release (we want box office!) to a fall release (we want awards!) to a February 2009 release (we want to bury this movie where no one can ever find it!), there was a widespread expectation that it would, in fact, stink. Then, in a burst of renewed confidence, the studio moved the release back to this month, just in time for awards-season glory. Except not quite.