When the word "brand" can be just as applicable to a person as it is to a company, is it so difficult to believe that personal relationships can fall under the umbrella of marketing? That's the conceit of The Arrangement, the E! drama premiering March 5. Aspiring actor Megan Morrison (Christine Evangelista) gets a crash course in romance-as-publicity-stunt when she believes she's auditioning to be in a movie with bankable heartthrob Kyle West (Josh Henderson), but she's really being considered to play the role of his girlfriend. Now, if such a hunky star existed, you'd probably have heard of him, right? So obviously, Kyle West isn't a real person, but The Arrangement's creative team has had to deny rumors that he's based on a household name.
In the E! series, one of the reasons that Kyle's team wants him coupled up is because of his membership in a self-help organization called The Institute of the Higher Mind, led by a guru named Terence Anderson (Michael Vartan). Before you look it up, I'll tell you that the institute is a fictional organization. But some early reactions to the show's synopsis from audiences and journalists have centered around its resemblance to claims about Tom Cruise's relationships. (Bustle reached out to the Church of Scientology and Cruise's representative for comment on these claims and has not yet received a response.)
In a 2012 investigative article, Vanity Fair claimed that Scientology leaders lead by David Miscavige had an "audition process" to find a woman to be in a relationship with Cruise, which the Church of Scientology vehemently denied. A spokesperson also denied that Miscavige had any involvement in Cruise's personal life. Additionally, the HBO Scientology documentary Going Clear included a segment on Nazanin Boniadi, the Homeland actor who Cruise dated briefly before Holmes. The film and another Vanity Fair article both claimed that Boniadi was "cast" by Scientology leaders, which the Church denied to Vanity Fair. Scientology also denounced Going Clear, calling it "bigoted propaganda" in a lengthy statement denying its claims released to The Hollywood Reporter.
Still, people have drawn comparisons between The Arrangement and Cruise, leading everyone involved with the show to state that it does not have anything to do with Cruise, Holmes, or Scientology. "The project is fiction," E! president Adam Stotsky told The Hollywood Reporter. "It wasn't inspired by any particular person or couple or group." Instead, he cited the industry's "long history of high-profile actors, executives seeking counsel from lots of organizations" and "of speculation about the arranged nature of many of Hollywood's relationships — that these are simply marketing and press ruses to help goose box-office interest" as some of the series' inspiration.
At E!'s Television Critics Association panel, creator Jonathan Abrahams also disavowed the Tom Cruise reading of The Arrangement and said that Hollywood self-help groups are closer to the series' basis — especially since, unlike Scientology, the Institute of the Higher Mind isn't a religion.
So according to those involved with The Arrangement, Kyle West isn't based on any particular actor, even if much of the series' early buzz has speculated otherwise.