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The Cruise canning: A post-mortem

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104846__tom_l_1Hey, guess what? Sumner Redstone watches Oprah! Or maybe the Viacom CEO had some other way of finding out about Tom Cruise’s year of wacktastic performance art — I hear he has a couple of media holdings. Anyhoo, he didn’t like what he saw on the 43,000 Matrix-ish screens in his office on the 376th floor*: Not Cruise’s “recent conduct,” not the underperforming grosses on Paramount’s Mission: Impossible 3, and, ultimately, not the sweet production deal Cruise has maintained with the Viacom-owned ‘Mount for 14 years. Redstone says he didn’t renew Cruise’s contract; Cruise (via producing partner Paula Wagner) says he left willingly to set up independent financing, a longtime goal. (Gosh, isn’t it everybody’s longtime goal to abandon a guaranteed stream of seed money for an ad-hoc consortium of as-yet-unnamed hedge funds?)

Of course, maybe it’s all been by-design. Face plants are funny, and (as you’ll see in the link above) Cruise may now be going the comedy route with Judd Apatow, writer-director of The 40-Year Old Virgin. Maybe he’s just been rehearsing for The 44-Year-Old Out-of-Work Actor. Maybe he’s having a Jerry Maguire moment.

But when the dust clears, a few questions remain: Was ol’ Sumner right to bring the hammer down? Did Cruise’s behavior affect your choices at the box office this summer? Did you avoid the best-made blockbuster of the summer (in this blogger’s opinion) because you found Cruise suddenly distasteful and didn’t want to line his pockets? And most important, is that attitude permanent? Or, given a period of Cruise quietude, will you return to loving his outer Cruise-ness and dismissing his inner kwaziness?

(*accessible only by man-eating pterodactyl; do not attempt to visit)

addCredit(“Tom Cruise: Chris Jackson/Getty Images”)