August 23, 2006

War Of The Star Worlds

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Paramount Pictures will end its longstanding relationship with Cruise/Wagner Productions, actor Tom Cruise's production company, citing his erratic behavior, according to a report published Tuesday.

Sumner Redstone, CEO of Paramount owner Viacom (Charts), said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that Cruise's controversial behavior over the last year - including advocating for Scientology and denouncing the use of antidepressant drugs - was the cause for the move.

There is one immutable law in Hollywood. Those who make movies that make lots of money can do and say just about anything they like. Man they can screw goats as far as Hollywood is concerned. For a while.

But are Tom Cruises utterances, while not to the liking of some, really that objectionable? So he’s a control freak with an possibly unhealthy influence over his new nubile girlfriend. So what else is old news?

The laws of libel prevent Hollycrud from detailing some of the most scurrilous “true” gossip about the “unacceptable” behaviour of a bevy of celebs.

So the question is: has Tom Cruise stopped making lots of money for Paramount?

Let’s consider other “unacceptable” behaviour versus Tom. Russell Crowe, for instance, is by many accounts a colossal jerk. Now he doesn’t seem to proclaim a particular “faith” like Cruise, nor does his movies gross anything in the same league of the Tomster.

So what’s it’s all about Alfie, really.

Deadline Hollywood Daily has a more interesting take:

Who's Crazier: Viacom or Tom Cruise?

If there’s suddenly a litmus test for insanity to be administered by the owners of Hollywood movie studios, then start with the executive suites. That’s my reaction to the are-you-shitting-me pronouncement by Viacom Inc. chairman Sumner Redstone today that his Paramount Pictures is terminating its 14-year relationship with Tom “Crazy” Cruise’s production company because the actor’s
controversial and erratic off-screen behavior hurt the theatrical grosses of "Mission Impossible 3. Of course, the studio's publicity department worked overtime all summer to dispel just that notion whenever entertainment business reporters questioned whether Cruise's loony tunes might affect his appeal. "As
much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal," Mr. Redstone said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount."

C’mon, fire the grinning actor idiot because he’s lost his box office appeal, or because his first dollar gross is so exorbitant that no studio has a prayer any more of making money on his motion pictures, or because of any other business reason. And fire him in the usual Hollywood way: with a bland-but-dignified press release about how much these 14 years have meant to both parties, ad nauseum. But, jeez, don’t fire him with this lame stuff that Sumner didn’t like the way Tiny Tom behaved. If that’s true, then no Hollywood studio can ever hire anyone. Drugs, sex, harrassment, tendacity, fraud: Paramount like most major studios has a rich history of horrible behavior by its work-for-hires. I could reel off for you 10 people now with rich studio deals, some at Paramount, who should be in jail or rehab or the Funny Farm but instead are well-paid miscreants.

Far be it from me to judge whether Cruise belongs in a straitjacket or not, or whether Scientology is a cult or a religion, or whether he’s gay or not, or whether MI3 would have done a lot more business in theaters if another big star had been the lead. But it’s absurd for Redstone to make an issue of Cruise’s conduct like he has. My god, Sumner himself was openly shtupping one of his producer girlfriends on the lot for years, and his own son is suing him. And Redstone looked the other way when Les Moonves carried on a long adulterous affair with employee Julie Chen and then married her after dumping his wife in the process. Which are all violations of so many corporate codes of conduct that I don’t think I can count that high.

And let’s not forget how the old guy’s studio is still in business with Robert Evans who not only was a hopeless cocaine addict and regular client of Heidi Fleiss’s prostitution call girl ring for years but pled the Fifth Amendment in connection with a murder rap no less. And let's not forget that Redstone didn't blink when Brad Grey's name surfaced in that Anthony Pellicano (the thug P.I.)
mess. So lemme get this straight: Cruise’s jumping around on Oprah’s couch is worse?

But the fact is that even Cruise’s recent pictures, the ones done
after he’d made Scientology the publicly avowed cause celebre of his life personally and professionally, and after he declared Katie Holmes the love of his life and knocked her up without benefit of marriage, are still top earners since 2000. Cruise did better for his studios with MI3, War of the Worlds, Collateral, The Last Samurai, Minority Report, Vanilla Sky and MI2 than almost
any other star, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Adam Sandler. My best guess is only Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp and Mel Gibson did better box office.”

And you might add, Depp wasn’t that instrumental in the success of a sure fire hit franchise like Pirates.

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