Sam's Space

Random thoughts and experiences about navigating life in New York City.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Everyone knows Tom Cruise has been flirting a lot lately -- not just with new fiancee Katie Holmes, but with the danger of overexposure

USA Today

Image and Cruise control

By Anthony Breznican

In a number of recent appearances, the screen icon has been living up to his Top Gun character's nickname — Maverick.

On Friday, NBC aired an interview that turned terse when Today co-host Matt Lauer grilled Cruise about his anti-psychiatry views, which are an offshoot of the actor's devotion to the Church of Scientology. Cruise called Lauer "glib" for saying some people with mental disorders had been helped by medication.

You had us at 'you're glib'

Other attention-getting episodes include:
• The couch-bouncing appearance on Oprah last month, in which Cruise confessed his love for Holmes.
• Repeated public displays of affection with Holmes, including their recent Eiffel Tower engagement, though they started dating in March.
• Criticizing Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants to combat postpartum depression.
• Scolding the water-squirting pranksters who doused his face at a London premiere.

Though all of this is happening during Cruise's publicity blitz for director Steven Spielberg's $128 million sci-fi epic War of the Worlds, which opens Wednesday, Hollywood watchers predict the movie won't be harmed.

"The only thing that can unseat Tom Cruise as a major movie star is to make bad movies, and he has had incredibly good taste picking both the right projects and the people working around them," says Harry Knowles, editor of

Cruise's behavior "is a turn-off, but not enough to turn away from the movie," says news editor Patrick Lee. "People just want to see aliens destroying the world."

Crisis public-relations manager Michael Sitrick, author of Spin: How to Turn the Power of the Press to Your Advantage, says becoming an object of mockery is not good.

"Once in a while everybody gets poked at by the Lettermans and Lenos, but when they're in the news constantly, pretty soon it becomes bigger than reality and you've got to take control of the perception," Sitrick says. "If I were advising him, I'd say pull it back."

Still, he says Cruise's animated behavior and his religious views aren't enough to make people dislike him. "I think all of his fans know his views on Scientology, so the fact that he's a devoted Scientologist doesn't come as a surprise."

Lee says moviegoers will flock to War of the Worlds, anyway.

Anne Thompson, deputy film editor at The Hollywood Reporter, slammed Cruise in a recent column for being clumsy with his public image, firing his hard-line publicist Pat Kingsley and hiring his sister Lee Ann DeVette in her place.

"I never thought I'd live to see the day that I would see the benefits of (Kingsley's) style of protective PR," Thompson says. "But movie stars can't really afford to make missteps because everything they do is spread virally on the Internet."


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