Saturday, August 26, 2006

LAT: Going After Sumner Redstone Because He Ousted Tom Cruise

Unless they're Henry Fonda or Humphrey Bogart, movie stars often have a short professional life, not the 15 minutes of fame mentioned by Andy Warhol, but let's say 45 minutes.

That's why I am puzzled by those, such as L.A. Times Calendar columnist Patrick Goldstein, who read all kinds of bad machinations into Paramount picture's decision to get rid of Tom Cruise, the actor.

After all, Cruise has faltered in his box office attraction of late, after some bizarre public appearances, a preoccupation with his nutty and perhaps even dangerous religion of Scientology, and a romance with a woman half his age. So why pay him millions of dollars, when there are always new faces coming along and many of them are quite beautiful?

Yet Goldstein in Friday's Calendar section goes after Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone for terminating Cruise, going so far as to compare him with New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. Horrors! No one in American business, unless it is the late Ken Lay, deserves to be compared with the obnoxious blowhard, George Steinbrenner.

Yet according to Goldstein, who is normally an incisive, accurate observer of the Hollywood scene, Redstone, by going public with his objections to Cruise, undercut subordinates who were going to get rid of Cruise, but gently and quietly.

Here is a newsman castigating a businessman for actually giving the real reasons for undertaking a particular action. Yet I thought newsmen favored full disclosure.

And the fact that Redstone is 84 does not preclude him from running his company the way he sees fit, so long as he has the confidence of the Viacom board.

Mow, just for the record, I've enjoyed some of Cruise's movies. But let's face it. he is over the hill. He's no Humphrey Bogart, who married Lauren Bacall when she was less than half his age, but pulled it off in style. After all, Bogart had talent.

Hollywood can be a tough place. It relies heavily on the attractiveness of its stars, and when they are no longer so attractive, it's time to unload them. The Cruise caper is nothing more than that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sumner Redstone is getting bad advice. (gossips say from his wife). His reason for firing Cruise should be: "Because I don't think Cruise will be profitable for us in the future, and I run this company." No reference to religion, unpopular views or his family are appropriate by a man who also owns multiple news and media outlets. The credibility of the whole operation suffers when this business decision appears to be triggered by Mrs. R's intolerance of Cruise's religious beliefs.This is particularly important, since the Smithsonian-Showtime scandal is not going to go away. There will be questions about the former school-teacher's role in the contract which gives Showtime control over the national archives, and de facto censorship over what can be seen in the classroom. (Showtime on demand will not be demanded by enough homes to break even. The money is in pay-per-view to schools, at "public assembly" rates) The wags are already dubbing her "Paulita", and "Lady Redstone", which may be creating an unfair reputation for a sincere woman who does not have a journalism background and therefore does not realize that when you own a viacom, it is necessary to embrace objectivity and freedom from bigotry.

8/30/2006 5:52 AM  

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