Citing a mixture of "shoddy journalism" and "religious bigotry," the Church of Scientology is threatening to sue Vanity Fair over a recent article claiming that it helped "audition" young actresses to find a suitable girlfriend for Tom Cruise.
In an eight-page legal letter, the Church has accused the magazine's editor, Graydon Carter, of a "reckless disregard for the truth," complaining that key allegations in his title's story are "false" and "defamatory".
The document was published by Scientology's PR team amid continued controversy over this month's Vanity Fair cover story "What Katie Didn't Know", which alleges that the Church attempted to set him up with an eligible young actress following the breakdown of his marriage to Nicole Kidman.
It claimed that the Church duly introduced Cruise to Nazanin Boniadi, a now 32 year-old actress. She was allegedly selected after being told that she was auditioning for a Scientology training video, and then undergoing a month-long "vetting" process. Their relationship reportedly soured after she upset Scientology's leader, David Miscavige, and rejected Mr Cruise's request to have her incisor teeth filed down.
Scientology's letter attacking Vanity Fair and its reporter Maureen Orth was written by its lawyer Jeffrey Riffer in mid-August, before the article appeared. It suggests the Church has a mole in the magazine's bureau with whom it has discussed the article.
"The story is false," the letter concludes. If Vanity Fair fails to retract it, "the stain on its reputation will last long after any reader even remembers the article," and "the sting of the jury verdict will last longer still".
Or as they say in the trade: see you in court.