Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 17 News List

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Keeping a lid on Tom Cruise was mission impossible for Paramount.

PHOTO: AFP

Tom Cruise's breakup with Paramount Pictures, announced by Paramount's parent Viacom in a newspaper interview, is especially bitter, even by Hollywood standards.

It follows a string of recent incidents featuring the actor's erratic behavior and religious proselytizing, and a dimming of his star power.

Viacom's chief Sumner Redstone, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published online late Tuesday, said Paramount was cutting loose Cruise, 44, after a 14-year relationship.

Redstone, 83, one of the entertainment industry's richest and most influential men, only three months ago was seen smiling alongside Cruise at the premiere of Mission: Impossible 3.

“It's nothing to do with his acting ability, he's a terrific actor,” Redstone told the Wall Street Journal. “But we don't think that someone who effectuates creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot.”

He added: “His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount.”

The latest in the star's Mission: Impossible series by Hollywood terms was a flop, earning US$113 million domestically on a budget of some US$150 million. The film eventually earned US$259 million internationally.

Redstone told the New York business newspaper that Cruise's antics had cost the movie up to US$150 million in ticket sales.

That was decidedly a bad bottom-line review for a studio that has seen the Top Gun and Days of Thunder star's films generate US$2.5 billion worldwide.

Cruise has grabbed headlines in recent years for increasingly eccentric behavior, such as jumping on a couch during a guest stint on talk show queen Oprah Winfrey's shows in May last year as he declared his love for actress Katie Holmes.

The Cruise camp told a different tale of the breakup: Partner and former agent Paula Wagner has told reporters that Cruise/Wagner Productions plans to set up an independent business using money from two top hedge funds.

It was Cruise's constant promotion of the Church of Scientology, a faith founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard that many consider a cult, that finally convinced the studio executives to give him the thumbs down, observers say.

Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan will play a genie in his first children's film along the lines of the Arabian Nights fantasies, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

The film, tentatively named Alladin and the Mystery of the Lamp, will go into production next year, the Mumbai Mirror said.

“Right now, I am scouting for international talent to do the special effects,” director Sujoy Ghosh was quoted as saying by the daily.

“Mr. Bachchan is very clear about the fact that if he's doing a children's film its production values have to be on par with international standards.”

The 31st annual Toronto Film festival will attract more star power than usual this year with Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon and Sean Penn among the Oscar winners and Hollywood heavyweights expected to attend.

Organizers said on Tuesday that the 10-day festival, which starts on Sept. 7, will include 352 feature films and shorts from 61 countries and 107 world premieres.

The festival has grown in influence over the years and is now seen, along with Cannes, Berlin and Sundance, as one of the leading showcases for the movies that will be vying for Oscars and other awards early next year.

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