Movie-maker Steven Spielberg has leapt to the defence of newly-engaged superstar Tom Cruise, after weeks of media and public criticism of the actor's over-enthusiastic declarations of love for fiancee Katie Holmes.

The 42-year-old film hunk shocked America when he punched the air repeatedly and jumped on Oprah Winfrey's famous sofa, while laughing manically as he shouted, "I'm in love" on the 23 May (05) episode of the OPRAH WINFREY SHOW.

Nearly two weeks later (08JUN05) he repeated his couch-surfing antics on Jay Leno's TONIGHT SHOW, saying, "When I start to think about her, things happen. So, cease talking."

Subsequent polls in PEOPLE and US WEEKLY show a majority of readers believe the couple's romance is a publicity stunt to promote their latest films - Cruise's War of the Worlds and Holmes' Batman BEGINS.

But in an interview with NEWSWEEK magazine, director Spielberg lashed out at claims he and Paramount Pictures were concerned Cruise's public displays of affection would negatively affect the sci-fi epic.

Spielberg says, "I was a little upset. I was a little upset (at the media attention).

"Not at Tom, but at the press for making such a big deal out of a kind of small thing. Tom lost his cool because he was deliriously happy, and now he was being punished for his public display of happiness.

"What Tom did on Oprah was exactly what Tom did with me when he first told me about Katie Holmes. But the press didn't like the way Tom bared his soul."

Cruise proposed to Holmes in the early hours of Friday morning (17JUN05) at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

20/06/2005 09:12