June 2, 2005
How Personal Is Too Personal for a Star Like Tom Cruise?
An executive for Viacom, Paramount's parent company, said the studio had
not yet decided whether to push ahead with production of "Mission:
Impossible III," one of the company's most valuable franchises and a
project on which tens of millions of dollars has already been spent. Shooting
was planned to begin in
"No definitive decision has been made; it's a discussion," said the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared endangering the studio's relationship with Mr. Cruise. Other executives involved in the discussion said the production became an issue in recent days as the budget has climbed well over $150 million. A studio spokeswoman, Janet Hill, declined to comment.
The uncertainty comes at a critical time for
While promoting that film over the last several weeks, Mr. Cruise engaged in an increasingly public discussion of his religion, Scientology. Then he set tongues wagging in Hollywood and elsewhere with an hourlong appearance on the May 23 "Oprah" show, during which he jumped around the set, hopped onto a couch, fell rapturously to one knee and repeatedly professed his love for his new girlfriend, the actress Katie Holmes.
Many Hollywood stars are involved with the
"You can have so much attention on a particular issue that maybe the movie doesn't get as much attention as it might," Marvin Levy, a spokesman for Mr. Spielberg, a partner in DreamWorks, said of the show. "It's the topic of conversation, for many reasons."
The two studios have already curtailed the normal promotional press junket ahead of the June 29 release of "War of the Worlds," limiting it to what Mr. Levy called a smaller number of "preselected interview sessions." He said the decision had nothing to do with Mr. Cruise but was made because there had been enough promotion already.
Mr. Cruise's recent comments and behavior have been fodder for Internet bloggers, radio talk show hosts and late-night comedians, who, among other things, have questioned whether the love affair with Ms. Holmes was a publicity stunt. A spokeswoman for Mr. Cruise denied that this was the case.
Mr. Cruise's spokeswoman, his sister Lee Anne De Vette, said she had not heard anything negative after the "Oprah" appearance. "You're looking at someone who's genuinely very happy," she said. "The response we've gotten back is complete enthusiasm and exhilaration for his enthusiasm and exhilaration. He's a very happy person."
Still, there have been other publicity hiccups related to Mr. Cruise's increasingly public association with Scientology, the religion founded by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. In a series of television interviews on "Access Hollywood" last week, the star spoke at length about his passion for Scientology, at one point criticizing Brooke Shields for taking anti-depressants: Scientology considers modern psychiatry and its medications to be harmful.
And in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel in April, Mr. Cruise got into a heated exchange with an interviewer who called Scientology a pseudo-science after the star said he had personally "helped hundreds of people get off drugs." Mr. Spielberg was present at the interview and found himself defending Mr. Cruise's dedication to Scientology by comparing it to his work for his Shoah Foundation, which promotes education about the Holocaust. A DreamWorks executive called the exchange unfortunate.
One Spiegel interviewer, Lars-Olav Beier, said he was given a tour of Scientology's celebrity center before the interview. Ms. De Vette said Mr. Cruise talked about Scientology simply to answer questions. "Scientology didn't come up on 'Oprah,' " she observed. "It's a matter of what's being asked. He's not talking about it more than in the past."
Ms. De Vette also said she had not heard that
plans for "
Mr. Cruise's insistence on making his religion a prominent part of his
current work has raised some resistance in
And Mr. Cruise's insistence on having a Scientology tent on the set of "War of the Worlds" created a conflict at Universal, where the movie was being shot, two executives involved said. The executives, who asked not to be identified to protect industry relationships, said that Mr. Cruise, his agent Kevin Huvane and Mr. Spielberg all had to appeal personally to the president of Universal Studios, Ron Meyer, for the tent to be permitted on the studio lot, where no solicitation is allowed.
The studio required that the tent not be used for recruitment purposes, they said. A studio spokesman declined to comment.