Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lifestyles of the Crazy and Famous

I am among the growing numbers of people who think Tom Cruise has slipped a cog or two and is now paddling his canoe up Cuckoo Creek. Craziness, however, does not necessarily mean a person lacks intelligence or the ability to think and plan well…it just means the person’s thinking and planning are carried out within a framework of standards, beliefs, and perceptions that the bulk of us do not share.

Yesterday it was announced that Cruise and Paramount had, after 14 years, parted ways. Since there was a controversy as to who bounced whom, I spent a little time perusing a variety of websites dedicated to celebrity news, hoping to gather enough diverse crumbs to piece together the most likely scenario.

All things considered, I’m taking Paramount’s version of the event. In the Wall Street Journal Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone remarked “His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount.” Reducing euphemism to Corporate-Speak, what Redstone is saying that due to his increasingly nutty personal behaviour, Cruise’s box-office appeal is declining and, now that contract renewal time affords an ideal opportunity to divest itself of what is beginning to look like a growing liability, Paramount doesn’t want to be chained to a sinking stone. In plain English, Tom’s crazy behaviour is starting to drive people away from the box office and Paramount wants to ends its association with Tom before its profits are hurt. Continues Redstone: “…we don't think that someone who effectuates creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot."

Yah, he’s cost Paramount a chunk of money…it’s reported that he gets a 25 percent cut of the gross of his movies…one quarter of every coin you spend on a ticket…and the cost of the production has to be borne by what remains. His antics have caused his box office to decline, so fewer people are seeing his movies than in the past…but his budgets aren’t declining. Apparently the production costs of MI3 exceeded the US box office take, of which Cruise got 25% off the top, leaving Paramount to make up the difference. The movie may have been a box office hit, but it left a dent in Paramount’s bottom line. Had Cruise not poisoned his well, more of us would have gone to the movie and maybe Paramount would have made a buck.

One of the problems with this kind of production deal is that misbehaving stars like Cruise, Lohan, or Gibson don’t actually bear the brunt of their behaviour. If they have a substantial cut of the gross of the film, success or failure are immaterial because they make money whether the film does or not…and whether they behaviour influences the ticket-buying public or not. So, Cruise can insult women with post-partum depression, talk down to his host on national television, and revert to his simian ancestry on Oprah with relative financial impunity…even if we stay away from his movie in droves and the thing is a box office flop, he still gets 25% of the take and Paramount drowns in red ink.

Shame…I used to like Tom Cruise movies, but I have to side with Paramount. As a movie-goer, I find it difficult to watch Tom on-screen without images of his embarrassing couch-hopping or his incredibly supercilious pillorying of Brook Shields or his arrogant behaviour towards Matt Lauer overlaying his on-screen character. I don’t want to go to his movies anymore…I don’t want MY hard-won money to fund a silly pseudo-religious cult that was founded by a crazy conman-cum-crappy science fiction writer. I don’t want to be a party to the kind of insanity that publicly scorns the users of legitimate medical treatment absent solid scientific reasons. And I especially do not want my ticket money ending up helping to fund the exploitation of the innocent.

Yes, I’m talking about Suri Cruise. The fact that her daddy is virtually certifiable at this stage does not mean he is bereft of guile and cunning…or greed. “Crazy like a fox” is a phrase that comes to mind here. With the world hanging on the imminent birth of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, Crazy Tom had the business acumen to realize that his little gift to humanity would be upstaged by the arrival of Brangelina’s babe, so he took the sly tack of hiding Suri from the world until it was sated with Shiloh and suddenly remembered that there was a little Cruise cruisin’ around, sight unseen. And, once Shiloh’s pictures were sold, the value of Suri’s photos could then be established…and if the offers weren’t high enough, she could continue to be hidden from view until the value inched up enough to surpass the benchmark figure of Shiloh’s photoshoot.

Aw, do I really think he is that mercenary and calculating? Yup, I do. Over the past year or so it has become increasingly obvious that Cruise veered sharply off the path of compassion and common sense sometime between his divorce from Nicole and his ensorcelment of Katie…oops—Kate…Holmes. His suffocating control of Holmes, from dictating what she will be called to how she would be permitted to give birth (silently and without drugs!) bespeaks a bone-deep misogyny and ingrained controlling nature that has flourished since the departure of the strong (and strong-willed) Kidman. Pity the girl child raised by such a father…a man who can do no wrong in his own eyes, a man for whom the accumulated wisdom of the world fades into subordination to his own concepts.

Yup, I got to go along with Paramount. They took a sound business decision to unhitch their wagon from a falling star, to a man spiralling out of control for lack of rational touchstones outside his own microcosm of incestuous thought and support. Tom Cruise and Company can contradict Paramount’s announcement with claims of having quit rather been fired, but the fact remains that contract negotiations broke down when Paramount balked at renewing their old, profit-bleeding deal (confirmed by Cruise’s production partner, Paula Wagner). Whether Cruise then walked or Paramount chucked him out the door is virtually immaterial: Paramount made the decision that Cruise wasn’t worth the cost to them anymore and calculatedly made an offer that they knew Cruise had to refuse. Damned by faint praise, as it were.

So the question now becomes, what is to happen to Crazy Tom and his entourage? Will he feather his nest by leaking the occasional multi-million dollar pic of little Suri? Will Kate Holmes ever make another movie? Will Tom? Does anybody really care anymore?

1 comment:

  1. Well, Tom can only hope that The National Enquirer will care.



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