Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sumner Redstone fires Tom Cruise.

Entertainment: Fallout from Cruise acting like a tool over the past year, but there has to be more than this going because if not it would make Sumner the most moral person in Hollywood.

Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures are parting ways, and the split, announced Tuesday, has turned unusually bitter. Telephones at the major studios were ringing off the hook Tuesday after Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone told TheWall Street Journal that his company's Paramount Pictures unit is ending its 14-year relationship with Cruise's film production company, Cruise/Wagner Productions. Redstone cited the actor's offscreen behavior, which has included the Scientologist's public criticism of antidepressants and his very public courtship of star Katie Holmes, with whom he has an infant daughter. "As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal," Redstone told the Journal. "His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount." Redstone could not be reached for comment, although a Viacom spokesman confirms the story and says that Cruise/Wagner's deal with Paramount will not be renewed. Splits between a studio and star are nothing new, but the tone of the separation stunned many in Hollywood, including Cruise's producing partner, Paula Wagner. "I don't understand why this would be turned into a personal attack," Wagner says. "Because that's what it is. That's letting one of your greatest assets walk out the door. It looks like bad business to me." Cruise has been a cash cow for the studio. His films have grossed more than $2.5 billion for Paramount. And while his latest film, Mission: Impossible III, was seen as a domestic disappointment with $133 million, it has taken in more than $390 million worldwide. Wagner also disputes that it was Paramount that ended the relationship. She said that talks broke down within the past week. "We had ceased negotiations," she says. "I'm not sure why this happened. You need to respect your artists. This isn't respectful to me. It's not something that dignifies a response." The split is not likely to change the types of movies Cruise makes or the salary he demands. But it could be another blow to the actor's increasingly difficult public relations battle. And that could affect his long-term clout as a box office — and Hollywood — titan. "It looks bad, and he may have to make a few smaller movies until he has another blockbuster," says David Poland of "But he's still going to make lots of money. He's still going to make lots of movies." Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who made several Cruise hits, including Top Gun and Days of Thunder, says that Cruise could end up the winner. "He's as viable an actor as he always was," Bruckheimer says. "He's a worldwide star, and a lot of people want to work with him, including me."

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