* Tweets "something creepy" about Scientologists
* News Corp chief says Tom Cruise 2nd or 3rd in hierarchy
* Follows Friday divorce news of Cruise, Katie Holmes
LOS ANGELES, July 1 (Reuters) - News Corp chairman Rupert
Murdoch took a swipe at Tom Cruise on Sunday in a series of
tweets that labeled the Hollywood star a No. 2 or No. 3 person
in the hierarchy of Scientologists, a group the media mogul
Cruise, a star of the "Mission: Impossible" movies, has long
been a prominent member of the Church of Scientology, which some
have described as a cult. The actor made headlines on Friday
when it was revealed his wife, actress Katie Holmes, had filed
for divorce and is seeking sole custody of their daughter, Suri.
"Scientology back in news. Very weird cult, but big, big
money involved with Tom Cruise either number two or three in
hiearchy (sic)," Murdoch posted Sunday on his official Twitter
Later in the day, he tweeted: "Watch Katie Holmes and
Scientology story develop. Something creepy, maybe even evil,
about these people."
Murdoch acknowledged his tweets would be controversial about
an hour afterward with: "Since Scientology tweet hundreds of
attacks. Expect they will increase and get worse and maybe
threatening. Still stick to my story."
It is not often that a high-profile media mogul like Murdoch
- News Corp owns the Fox brand of TV networks and movie studios
and various media companies worldwide - attacks a major movie
star such as Cruise publicly, although it has happened to Cruise
In 2006, Viacom Inc's Sumner Redstone caused a stir in when
he criticized Cruise after the movie star and Viacom's Paramount
Pictures ended a production deal following the lackluster box
office performance of "Mission: Impossible III."
"We don't think that someone who effectuates creative
suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot,"
Redstone told the Wall Street Journal at the time. "His recent
conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount."
Redstone was referring to interviews Cruise gave that year
that made headlines worldwide for Cruise's behavior, including
jumping on Oprah Winfrey's talk show couch and professing his
love for Katie Holmes in front of millions on U.S. television.
Cruise and Holmes eventually married and had Suri, who is
now 6 years old. The high-profile family is a favorite of
celebrity magazines and news that Holmes filed for divorce in
New York came while Cruise was filming in Iceland.
A representative for the Church of Scientology was not
immediately available on Sunday to comment, nor was an attorney
(Reporting By Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Eric Walsh and Doina
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