She’s already been dubbed the ‘biggest nightmare’ in Scientology history, and as news emerges of the intricately staged way in which Katie Holmes managed to extract not only herself from her marriage and Tom’s ‘Church’, but also her six-year-old daughter, Suri too, the Batman Begins actress’s audacious public game plan and weeks of preparation have left her perfectly placed to fight her estranged husband for their little girl.
And with hindsight, the actress had been paving the way for her single life for months, telling Elle magazine’s upcoming August issue – the interview for which was done in May – “I’m starting to come into my own. It’s like a new phase.” And dismissively adding of her husband, who had by then moved into a separate bedroom, “He has been Tom Cruise for 30 years. I know who I am and where I am and where I want to go, so I want to focus on that.”
And from ditching her entire security team and staff and replacing all her laptops and cellphones, to sacking step-daughter Bella from her fashion label and courting protection from the paparazzi, every aspect of Katie’s post-divorce-filing life has been highly planned and executed in a bid to keep the Church of Scientology from getting their hands on her daughter. Scene delves into the fascinating aspects of Katie’s strategy, to reveal why she’s done what, and what we can expect from her as the battle heats up…
Strategic New York move
Since filing for divorce five days before Tom’s 50th birthday, Katie has not shied away from being photographed with Suri on the streets of New York, the city she has made her home post-split.
And her public strategy is all part of her overall plan to present herself as a citizen of the Big Apple, where she wants the divorce to take place thanks to their more sympathetic ‘single custody’ laws, and also to reconnect with her old life, as the actress was based in NYC before she married Tom.
“Before they met, Katie was living in New York; she’d ended her relationship with Chris Klein, she was excited about her career, she was in her 20s, experiencing the city, going out, meeting new people, coffee with friends,” spilled one insider. “I’m told Katie is often wistful about those pre-Cruise days. She doesn’t miss him, hasn’t in a while now, when she’s in New York without him, often for weeks. So, New York became a problem, and one of the arguments she couldn’t win. My sources tell me Tom would not consider making New York their primary residence.”
Using the paparazzi and press for protection
Keen to be seen out and about with Suri as much as possible, industry insiders have been quick to point out that the more Katie is seen in public, and the more paparazzi images there are of her, the less likely it is that the Church of Scientology will try to engage her. Rumours quickly circulated that Katie was being tailed by the Church (which they deny), with TMZ reporting, “Katie… believes Scientology now views her as a threat to the organisation and has put a team on her tail. People who have photographed Katie multiple times tell [us] there have been several “mysterious” men and vehicles around Katie’s apartment and following her when she’s out.” And after the NY Post insisted that a white Escalade containing armed men was pulled over by cops due to “suspicious activity”, insiders have said that Holmes’ public strategy “does not appear to be the mind of a paranoid person.”
“Something about the Church scares [Katie’s team] so much, they would rather live this drama out through the tabloids than do it privately and risk the alternative... whatever that alternative is. For Katie and Suri then, splashing this situation all over the scandal sheets is a protective manoeuvre,” said one Hollywood-watcher. “So, if they’re running to the tabloids for cover, how [screwed] up is what they’re running away from?”
Everything in place before she quit
“She was talking to Tom on the phone up until [the week before she filed for divorce] saying, ‘I love you,’” spilled a source. “Her inner circle has been planning this and switching out cellphones since she was in China [in mid-June]. When new cellphones arrived, then nobody could reach her. Her old best friends from last week don’t have her new number, no email. She’s unreachable.”
Also employing a new round-the-clock security detail, Katie also planned cutting off all ties with Tom down to the smallest detail – which even involved sacking his adopted daughter, Bella, from her position at Katie’s Holmes & Yang fashion label. “There was never any trouble between them.
Bella called Katie ‘mom.’ She was fired out of the blue, and once Katie filed for divorce, it all made sense,” a former Scientologist told THR. “This was a carefully planned ambush. Katie didn’t want Bella working for her anymore because she was Tom’s kid.”
Selecting her legal team
Said to have inherited her headstrong nature from her lawyer father Martin, sources close to the situation told People that he “helped orchestrate his daughter’s sudden split…. Marty is very rigid – it’s his way or the highway.” And her hiring of New York lawyer Allan E Mayefsky – whose firm recently represented Salma Hayek’s billionaire husband François-Henri Pinault in his child-support battle with supermodel Linda Evangelista – as well as divorce lawyer Jonathan Wolfe, who specialises in “complex matrimonial matters”, has been seen as a willingness to “play tough” when it comes to gaining full custody of Suri.
“[Katie] needs cut-throat lawyers because Tom is really powerful,” said playwright Tricia Walsh-Smith, whose ex-husband engaged Mayefsky during their divorce. “The dirtier the better, so I think she made a good choice. They are known for being ruthless, and they normally win. They beat the **** out of me.”
And 33-year-old Katie is already said to be winning the media war, after Tom’s hardball lawyer, Bert Fields, told the BBC, “We are letting ‘the other side’ play the media until they wear everyone out and then we’ll have something to say.”
“The ‘other side’? ‘Play the media’? Oh, someone is angry. And I’m not sure you want to present as angry right now,” analysed one Hollywood-watcher. “Right now Katie Holmes is indeed playing the media. [Her role is of] the courageous mother to a vulnerable child. She appears to be putting the child before her own interests. Countering that with angry won’t be well-received.”
Suri’s welfare drives everything Katie does
“It’s impressive, Katie’s strong position, isn’t it? She’s blown this so wide open, at this point, [Scientology] really can’t touch her,” insisted one source. “On the contrary, they better hope she thrives, because [if] she so much as breaks a nail right now, they are ******.” Adding, “So far, all of her moves have been undercover. [But] can you imagine if she decides to go overt with the operation? That’s the message she’s sending [Tom]: Do not fight me on Suri because this is just the start – people are blaming your religion already and I haven’t opened my mouth; can you imagine what will happen if I step out with tears in my eyes, and our daughter, terrified, in my arms?”
And said to be driving Katie’s game of hardball is her “determination” not to end up cut out of her child’s life like Nicole Kidman was with Connor and Bella.