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People: A new train wreck for Tom Cruise?

Tom CruiseAssociated Press
 (FILE Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Tom CruiseAssociated Press (FILE Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokesman-Review

A new biography and a 4-year-old video are again calling attention to Tom Cruise‘s belief in Scientology.

Andrew Morton, author of “Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography,” published Tuesday by St. Martin’s Press, claims that the 45-year-old actor ranks second in command in the Church of Scientology.

“This is a fair, evenhanded treatment of Tom Cruise’s life,” Morton said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” show, adding: “He’s a man who deserves attention.”

The church responded with a statement calling the book “a bigoted, defamatory assault replete with lies” and saying Cruise “is a Scientology parishioner and holds no official or unofficial position in the Church hierarchy.”

Meanwhile, a 2004 video turned up on the Internet in which Cruise extolls Scientology’s virtues while the soundtrack to his “Mission: Impossible” films plays in the background.

“Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident, it’s not like anyone else,” he says. “As you drive past, you know you have to do something about it, because you know you’re the only one that can really help.”

Just a little tune-up

“High School Musical” star Zac Efron is recovering from an emergency appendectomy.

The 20-year-old heartthrob was hospitalized Tuesday, a day after Disney announced that he and his regular co-stars – Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman – had signed on to appear in “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.”

Filming is scheduled to start in the spring.

An emergency hearing?

Rapper Foxy Brown is asking to be released from jail so she can go to California for hearing tests and repair of a cochlear implant.

She says in court papers that her condition is worsening, and she needs to go to a Los Angeles clinic to “have her cochlear implant reprogrammed and repaired or else face imminent harm to her hearing.”

Brown was sentenced in September to a year in jail for violating probation from an assault conviction for a fight with two manicurists at a Manhattan nail salon.

DMX owes some $$$

Rapper-actor DMX has been ordered to pay $1.5 million to the mother of his child after he failed to appear in court to defend himself against allegations of defamation.

DMX (aka Earl Simmons) was sued by Monique Wayne after he allegedly told a magazine that she raped him during a 2003 hotel stay, leading to her pregnancy.

Survival of the fetus

The Hollywood pregnancy parade continues with the news that Matthew McConaughey is going to be a dad.

The actor announced on his Web site that his girlfriend, Brazilian model Camila Alves, is three months along.

Says McConaughey: “Wish us the best, keep us in your prayers, and God bless evolution.”

The birthday bunch

Actress Betty White is 86. Actress-singer Eartha Kitt is 81. Actor James Earl Jones is 77. Talk show host Maury Povich is 69. Singer Steve Earle is 53. Actor Jim Carrey is 46. Actor Naveen Andrews (“Lost”) is 39. Musician Kid Rock is 37. Actress Zooey Deschanel is 28.

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