Anyone who stood in line at the grocery store last weekend couldn't miss People magazine's sympathetic cover story on Tom Cruise detailing his "life alone" and "constant calls" to 6-year-old daughter Suri, whom he reportedly hasn't seen in nearly two months.
But even as he faces criticism that his lack of face time with the tyke is mandated more by the Church of Scientology than his busy work schedule (a charge denied by his attorney), grumbling has begun that any contact he gets with Suri constitutes "special treatment" from the religion's powers that be.
"They have already bent the rules for Tom," former high-ranking Scientologist Nancy Many kvetches to Radar Online. "If Tom was any other Scientologist, including lesser celebrities, he would not be allowed to continue seeing and maintaining communication with Katie or Suri, because they are no longer in Scientology."
That, contends Many, "has already upset the parents and children of existing Scientologists who can't talk to their loved ones. If he is supposed to be a Scientologist, why don't the rules for every other member apply to him?"
According to Vanity Fair's recent exposé on the church's alleged 2004 plan to find Cruise a wife, he should have cut off contact with Katie Holmes after she surprised him with divorce papers, then retained primary custody of Suri and enrolled her in a swanky New York private school.
Seems these actions are "grounds for disconnection if she were married to any other Scientologist -- many hundreds of whom have suffered deeply for years because of mandated separation from their families," maintains the magazine. "By being able to stay connected to Suri and Katie, Cruise proves once again to be a privileged exception."
Adds Many to Radar, "When every other person that I have known of leaves Scientology, which Katie did without speaking of it directly, they are instantly shunned."
Cruise, 50, who was last seen treating Suri to a whirlwind tour of Disney World in late July/early August, has been in London filming "All You Need Is Kill." But he talks to Suri several times a day, reports People, with a source chiming in, "[Tom and Katie] are still very civil to each other and are all about co-parenting."
So, what of claims that Scientology is making a communication exception for its most famous member?
"None of this is true," Cruise's rep assures Wonderwall, calling such stories "lies designed to sell magazines and attract viewers to sites."
As for Katie and Suri, they had a typical New York weekend, which included running errands with pals and popping into a Starbucks.
"In school, Katie is so nice and talks to the parents like everyone else," an insider tells People. "She's making sure Suri is doing well, and Suri has had a few playdates with new friends from school."
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