While rumors have long circulated about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' union being arranged, an upcoming Vanity Fair cover story asserts that in 2004 there was a Scientology-sponsored audition process to find Tom Cruise a girlfriend — and Katie Holmes wasn't the first choice.

As reported by special correspondent Maureen Orth, the project was headed by Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology head David Miscavige.

According to several sources, the organization devised an elaborate auditioning process in which actresses who were already Scientology members were called in, told they were auditioning for a new training film, and then asked a series of curious questions including: "What do you think of Tom Cruise?"

It was important that all matches were good for Cruise and for Scientology, unlike past romantic choices Nicole Kidman and Penélope Cruz.

The first choice was allegedly Nazanin Boniadi, who dated Cruise from November 2004 to January 2005.

Initially she was told only that she had been selected for a very important mission. In a month-long preparation in October 2004, she was audited every day, a process in which she told a high-ranking Scientology official her innermost secrets and every detail of her sex life. Boniadi allegedly was told to lose her braces, her red highlights, and her boyfriend. According to a knowledgeable source, she was shown confidential auditing files of her boyfriend to expedite a breakup.

According to another of Orth's sources, whenever Boniadi displeased Cruise — which was often — he reported her infractions to Scientology staff members. But Boniadi's biggest misstep was insulting David Miscavige by asking him to repeat what he'd said when he spoke too quickly.

Cruise did not break up with Boniadi directly and allegedly had her sent to the Scientology Celebrity Centre. When Boniadi revealed details of her failed relationship to a friend, the friend reported her.

Boniadi's punishment was to scrub toilets with a toothbrush, clean bathroom tiles with acid, and dig ditches in the middle of the night. After that she was sent out to sell Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics on street corners.

Naturally, Scientology repudiates these claims. According to their spokespeople, Orth's sources are simply "disgruntled apostates." Curious how many of those there are.

Orth's story will also include details of Cruise's marriage to Holmes, Nicole Kidman's estrangement from their children, and the secret videotapes of Cruise's Scientology audits — all of which we can look forward to Scientology officials denying.

[Image via Patricia Schlein/WENN.com]