NEW YORK — "The Arrangement" may remind viewers of rumours about the effect of Scientology on the marriage of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
The drama series, which airs Sunday on E! Entertainment, stars Christine Evangelista as Megan Morrison, an up-and-coming actress who meets A-list actor Kyle West (Josh Henderson) on an audition. He's instantly smitten, and a lunch date leads to an overnight in Mexico.
Everything seems to be progressing until Kyle offers Megan a marriage contract arranged by his self-help group, The Institute of the Higher Mind. She's offered an Insta-relationship and the money and perks of being with one of Hollywood's biggest stars.
"When I first read the script I was very intrigued by the premise and it caused me to ask myself what I would do and I found that to be interesting," Evangelista said.
"I also liked how this young girl, her life, changes overnight and she's faced with situations and decisions and tests and is she able to endure them, and I think it posed a lot of moral questions ... for her and I thought that was very interesting. In one way her life changes in a very exciting way overnight. With the other it's like at what cost? What's the expense? And it definitely comes at a price."
That price includes the glare of the spotlight, jealous friends and a loss of freedom, thanks to Kyle's self-help group.
"The Institute helps "people find what's been holding them back, search for their own happiness," Evangelista said. "How they go about that is in a very manipulative way. It sort of makes people almost ... a prisoner to them."
Evangelista, who appeared on "The Walking Dead," is aware of comparisons to Scientology and Cruise and Holmes, who divorced in 2012 after five years of marriage, but emphasizes that the show is fiction.
"Of course we want people to be intrigued by what we're doing, but The Institute is a totally fictionalized group," she said. "These are fictional characters. Megan is a waitress when we meet her. You know that's not really like anyone we know.
"People want to know what happens behind closed doors and behind the curtain in Hollywood and it's intriguing."
And Henderson, who plays West, fits the bill of a charming, complex mega-star.
"He is a wonderful guy, very charismatic and I think that's what Megan sees," Evangelista said. "They have this undeniable chemistry between the two of them and I think that's what she's looking at."
Alicia Rancilio, The Associated Press