Redstone Rocket Fired At Cruise Missile
In an action that seemed destined to send Tom Cruise scurrying back to Scientology's E-meters to discover the source of his recent tribulations, Paramount Pictures on Tuesday dropped him and his production company after an association of some 14 years. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone commented, "As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal. ... His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount." Redstone was presumably referring to Cruise's couch-jumping antics on Oprah Winfrey's talk show and his ballistic interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show about Scientology and psychotropic drugs. "We don't think that someone who effectuates creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot," Redstone added. In an interview with today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times, Cruise's production partner, Paula Wagner, denounced Redstone's remarks. "It is graceless. It is undignified. It's not businesslike," she said." In a separate interview with Daily Variety, she pointed out that during the last six years, Cruise/Wagner movies have accounted for 32 percent of Paramount's theatrical revenue. The Times account further noted that Paramount and Cruise/Wagner had been negotiating a renewal deal that would have cut the studio's commitment to pay them $10 million in overhead and development costs. Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper said that Paramount had offered them $2 million a year plus a $500,000 discretionary fund for each of two years. When Cruise/Wagner turned down the deal, Paramount Chairman Brad Grey prepared to announce an amicable end to the relationship, the Times said, citing one source. Grey and Viacom CEO Tom Freston were reportedly upset by Redstone's comments and told the newspaper's sources that he had not discussed his views about Cruise during the negotiations.