CANNES, France The gay rumors?
Try sitting five inches from John Travoltas wife, in the Carlton Hotels Grace Kelly suite overlooking the shimmering Mediterranean without being overwhelmed by cognitive dissonance.
Kelly Preston, blond and vivacious at 55, was surrounded by her two kids running around the suite, members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a gaggle of reporters, at least four publicists, and Travolta himself.
The couple, married 27 years, are affable and seemingly carefree. They came to Cannes (piloted by Travolta on his jet) on a week-long publicity blitz to promote Travoltas latest film, Gotti, a biopic of the late Gambino crime family boss John Gotti that opens June 15. Travolta, 64, plays Gotti from a young-ish man to his death at 61. Preston plays Gottis long-suffering wife, Victoria.
Travolta was also celebrating the 40th anniversary of Grease, which screened here in 1978. Travolta was set to host an afterparty for Gotti at the luxe Eden Roc at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes and channel Danny Zuko at a bash for Grease after an outdoor beach screening with his family and fans.
As the Travoltas take Cannes, its hard to remember that theyre two of the most powerful and loyal Scientologists in the world. Or that as a couple theyve managed to dodge, or handle, in Scientology parlance, years of accusations from male masseurs and his former co-pilot, among others, of sexual assault and harassment against Travolta.
The most recent claim against him surfaced just last November in a police report published online alleging sexual battery by a male masseur in 2000.
The Travoltas have survived Carrie Fisher telling Out magazine in 2009 that We dont really care that John Travolta is gay. They prevailed in a legal fight over Robert Randolphs Los Angeles gay sex tell-all Youll Never Spa in This Town Again in 2012 that cited Travolta. Theyve watched as some of Travoltas accusers have recanted.
Just as #MeToo hit the Croisette this year, the pair looked relaxed and happy as they brought Travoltas passion project to Cannes.
To mark the occasion, Preston told me eagerly that shes just opened an Instagram account, urged on by her 18-year-old daughter, Ella Bleu, and its filled with photos of her looking loved-up with Travolta. My gorgeous hubby! she captions one image. Date night! reads another.
Gotti was more than eight years in the making and lists 44 producers. It got terrible reviews at Cannes for, among many reasons, its oddly pro-Gotti tone. The man, after all, was a murderer who was serving a life sentence without possibility of parole when he died of throat cancer in federal prison in 2002.
It mostly portrays John Gotti as a loving family man and altogether likeable guy, said The Hollywood Reporter. Leave it up to Teflon Don to get a movie made that seems to clear him of all charges more than 15 years after his death.
Gotti was supposed to go straight to video in December 2017 before being reportedly dumped by Lionsgate a week before its release. Travolta, incredibly, not only managed to find another investor to ensure a theatrical run, he talked Thierry Frmaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival, into letting Gotti hold its premiere at the Salle Bunuel inside the Palais des Festivals.
Teflon Don? Meet Teflon John: adored husband, family man, and still the biggest star to hit the Croisette this year, unless you count Kendall Jenner.
Scandal doesnt stick to Travoltaor seem to affect Preston, at least so far. Some of that is due to Travoltas fearsome L.A. lawyer Marty Singer, who, along with Scientology bosses, has handled all the allegations of assault or harassment against Travolta much as Gottis flamboyant attorney, Bruce Cutler, won three dramatic courtroom victories for his client.
There are several eerie parallels between Travolta and Preston and John and Victoria Gotti. Gotti, who described himself as a plumbing salesman on tax returns, never admitted publicly to leading a double life.Nor has Travolta. Both couples also lost a son.
Frank Gotti was 12 in 1980 when he was accidentally hit by a neighbors car. Jett Travolta was 16 in 2009 when he died in the Bahamas, apparently after having a seizure and hitting his head in the bath.
Some say that much of the Travolta/Preston staying power, at least when it comes to their image and long marriage, is due to the steeliness of the outwardly easygoing Preston.
Though Prestons acting career cant compare to Travoltas, several former high-ranking Scientologists, all of whom left the church around 2010, told The Daily Beast that Preston is the hard-core devotee. One said she anchors Travolta and that he relies on her strength and is terrified of losing her.
Kelly is a much more dedicated Scientologist than John, said Mike Rinder, the former top spokesman for the Church of Scientology and previously one of its main enforcers. Scientology dictates every choice in life and informs every decision a Scientologist makes.
Rinder knew the couple well and liked both of them.
I cannot say if he is gay or not, Rinder said. Im not going to speculate. All I know is it would be a catastrophe if he or anyone else in Scientology came out as gay. You cant. The church is anti-gay even if they dont publicize it.
Karen de la Carriere, once one of Scientologys most powerful executives and one of the last to be personally trained by L. Ron Hubbard, met Travolta when he joined Scientology around 1975 and later met Kelly.
De la Carriere says Travolta is a bad boy who likes risky sexual adventures. Preston is either deluded or more likely just deaf to the whole thing.
The church has a very intense indoctrination to prepare you for anything you might hear, De la Carriere said. Its like a pre-emptive strike in case something uncomfortable comes up. Kellys been trained to not believe what she hears in the media. Shes been trained to think that these are evil people making things up.
To Jeffrey Augustine, De la Carrieres husband and another ex-Scientologist, Kelly is a true believer.
John loves aviation more than Hollywood, but because of Kelly hed never leave Scientology, Augustine said. He loves his family. Hes just got a dark side and hes reckless. But he really has no reason to want to leave the church. People at his level never see the ugly side of the church. Plus, hes got OSA [Scientologys Office of Special Affairs] as his own private Mafia if he gets into trouble.
Travolta rolled with a Gotti-sized entourage in Cannes that included his actress-sister Ellen, various other family members, lifelong friends, his longtime manager Randi Michel, and John Gotti Jr. Gotti is based largely on Juniors book and Junior accompanied Travolta to the Gotti screening here.
Gotti Jr. was also at the party at Eden Roc, a glamorous and romantic spot high above an infinity pool carved into rocks leading down to the sea. After a long dinner at the upstairs restaurant, Travolta came down with his wife, daughter ,and 7-year-old Croc-wearing son, Ben, who was born after Jetts death, and greeted the crowd in a suit with ruffled sleeves.
A clip of him dancing awkwardly with 50 Cent later went viral but the thirtysomething crowd drinking Champagne and eating chocolate desserts off silver salvers applauded wildly.
Travolta's most candid moments came during a two-hour master class in the Bunuel Room in which he was interviewed by a French journalist and then took questions from the crowd of mainly young aspiring filmmakers and actors.
While dissecting his films and his reputation for comebacks (Quentin Tarantinos Pulp Fiction won the Palme dOr here in 1994 and reignited his then-moribund career), Travolta spoke repeatedly about confidence and how to stabilize yourself to achieve greatness.
I practice Scientology, and we do very simple things to get ourselves in better shape: Take care of yourself, get good sleep, be better parents, be productive, be motivated, he said. It sounds simple, but they all contribute to your well-being.
Though in Cannes for at least five days, Travolta was not available for any one-on-one interviews, just roundtables of softball-throwing reporters in the Grace Kelly suite.
Preston, however, was offered to anyone in the suite who wanted to talk to her aloneand she seemed to have all the time in the world.
She was charming, and spoke enthusiastically of the day she and Travolta spent with Gottis widow Victoria at the Howard Beach, Queens, home that she once shared with Gotti.
Preston and Mrs. Gotti struck up a friendship that continues on email to this day. Preston also studied footage of Mrs. Gotti as a young woman to help her shape her portrayal.
She would let me ask her anything, Preston said. Id ask her what did she feel, how did she think, what was she going through.
How much did Victoria Gotti know about what her husband did?
She knows John was in the life, Preston said. She doesnt want their son in it but had no huge problem with it.
Did she dislike him being in the lifeor was she maybe into it?
No, she wasnt into it at all, Preston said. She felt what he did outside those doors was his business and how he was at home was their life.
Did she love him?
She fell in love with him, yes, Preston said. There was the life out there and then there was how he was with his family and her inside the home and it was very different. They had a very loving, very deep respect for each other. They could be very volatile together but she held her own. John [Gotti] couldnt understand why everyone feared him, but his own wife had no fear of him at all.
Travoltas publicist did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story by The Daily Beast. A Scientology media spokesman claimed in an email that its website has no listed policy or stance against homosexuality. The spokesman said further that Scientology does not comment on individual Scientologists.
Updated 5/25, 2:45 P.M. to correct the date Travolta joined Scientology, around 1975. We regret the error.
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