The Cruise missile

Sharon Waxman reports in Thursday's New York Times that, with his star Tom Cruise increasingly pushing Scientology and acting oddly while promoting War of the Worlds, Paramount chief Brad Grey "is facing the sort of decision that makes Hollywood executives quiver: whether to proceed with production of the hugely expensive Mission: Impossible III."

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.

But within Hollywood, the discussion among agents, producers, studio executives and other actors has been focused more on whether Hollywood's biggest box office star was doing long-term harm to his career. And there was sincere confusion over what Mr. Cruise, a 20-year veteran of the publicity machine, had in mind with his recent public appearances and statements.

[snip]

Mr. Cruise's insistence on making his religion a prominent part of his current work has raised some resistance in Hollywood. Some executives from the United International Pictures, which is releasing "War of the Worlds" overseas, complained earlier about being asked to take a four-hour tour of Scientology facilities in Los Angeles in late January.

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 story cites a report on the Huffington Post that Mission Impossible III could be in trouble.

Also in the NYT: A "critic's notebook" on the L.A. Philharmonic's Esa-Pekka Salonen is headlined Classical Music Star Grabs, and Holds, the Imagination of Fickle Los Angeles.


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