Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
Michael Moore is shown in a scene from 'Sicko.'
Tom Cruise may have reached control freak nirvana this week. He’s also set for Golden Globe nominations for whatever he does in the future.
The reason? Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, has bought Dick Clark Productions for $175 million. The company produces the Golden Globes NBC telecast with the controversial and mysterious Hollywood Foreign Press Association every year. Its contract with the HFPA runs through 2011. The company and the HFPA split an annual fee from NBC of between $5 and $8 million.
The HFPA, registered as a charitable foundation, then gives about $1 million to various charities and lavishes the rest of the tax-free money on itself for travel, salaries and "research."
Last year, Snyder entered into a deal with Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner to fund their movie production company after Cruise/Wagner lost its deal with Paramount Pictures.
You may recall Cruise and wife, Katie Holmes, making publicity appearances at a Redskins game and at Six Flags Great Adventure — which Snyder also owns — with the timed dexterity of a political candidate.
Since the 80-member HFPA has a proven track record of being influenced in its voting every year, the fix is in, as they say, for Cruise’s Golden Globe nomination this December for his role in Robert Redford’s "Lions for Lambs." The movie is produced by Cruise/Wagner for United Artists.
Cruise also could get an American Music Award special honor, since Dick Clark Productions owns that show as well. But we won’t have to fear his hosting "New Year's Rockin' Eve." That show was held back by Clark when he sold the company several years ago.
Michael Moore has his constituency, and they were out in force last night at the official premiere of his new film, "Sicko."
At the conclusion of the two-hour movie about the health care industry, Moore received a sustained standing ovation from the packed audience in the Ziegfeld Theater, with yelps of "Bravo!"
Unlike other Moore movies, "Sicko" doesn’t bash or confront anyone. Moore simply gathers together many typical Americans who’ve been ignored or rejected by the traditional health care system and tells their stories.
In the end, he brings them to Cuba, where they get free and state-of-the-art medical attention. It’s a grandstanding trick, but it’s designed for that purpose, to get our attention. It works.
Last night, before the movie began at the premiere sponsored by The New York Observer, he told how nearly impossible it was to get insurance for making "Sicko."
Every movie theater chain requires films to have a kind of insurance called "Errors and Omissions" in case someone who’s in the film or doesn’t like it decides to sue the people who’ve shown it.
"No one ever sued on 'Fahrenheit 9/11,'" he explained. "Even after all the criticisms, there was nothing. Still, we had to get the insurance. For 'Fahrenheit,' it cost $64,000. But by the time we came to making 'Sicko,' the price had gone up to half a million dollars."
Referring to the dozens of nurses and doctors who showed up at the premiere, Moore said: "One of the nurses here said I was the pre-existing condition in this case."
The audience — including Richard Belzer; Kathleen Turner; Swoosie Kurtz; Fran Drescher; comedian Robert Klein; "Super Size Me" filmmaker Morgan Spurlock; Damon Dash and designer wife, Rachel Roy; and Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson — ate it up.
Later, I got to meet Donna and Larry Smith, an average American couple in their 50s who met Moore through his Web site.
In the movie, their story of losing their home and having to move in with their young adult kids — medical fees devour them after he gets serious heart trouble and she’s diagnosed with cancer — hits a nerve whether you’re from a blue state or a red state.
The Smiths are among those who took the trip with Moore to Cuba.
"I’m an American. I don’t want to live in Cuba," Donna Smith said. "I love America." But then she added: "We did just get an e-mail from our doctor in Cuba asking how we were doing. They invited us to come back any time."
The funeral service for Claudia Cohen Monday at Central Synagogue in Manhattan was like an attendance call for everyone in media, politics or society.
Who else but Claudia would merit not one but two senators — Charles Schumer and his predecessor, Alfonse D’Amato? Donald and Melania Trump sidled up the corridor and found a place near Liz Smith.
Also there were actors Ron Silver, Lorraine Bracco and Michael Nouri; Matt Lauer and Jill Rappaport of the "Today" show and Bryant Gumbel formerly of; superstar singer Jon Bon Jovi; Frank Gifford and Kathie Lee; Kelly Ripa and husband, Mark Consuelos; Michael Gelman and Laurie Hibberd. Local media types like Joan Hamburg, Lynn White, Marc Simone, Linda Stasi and Rosanna Scotto were in attendance as well.
Ellen Barkin, the wife who succeeded Claudia in Ron Perelman’s world, took up almost an entire row with her mother, brother, sister-in-law and niece. The "Ocean’s Thirteen" actress showed incredible class as the speakers made reference to the various Perelman marriages. If she cringed it was only noticed by Vera Wang, who sat beside her.
But Claudia’s funeral, which numbered several hundred of the best-dressed guests seen anywhere, was all about the speakers. In order, they were Perelman; her brother; Calvin Klein; Bob Colacello; Carolina Herrera; Regis Philbin; Susan Hess and Claudia’s poised 17-year-old daughter, Samantha. The men also functioned as the unofficial pallbearers.
Regis, of course, gave the somber ceremony a little needed levity with his reminisce of how Claudia planned her famous dinner parties.
"She spent two weeks deciding who was going to sit next to Calvin Klein," he recalled. "Two weeks, Calvin Klein!"
Later, writer Nora Ephron was overheard telling someone, "I’m very honored. I sat next to Calvin Klein at all those dinners."
But it was Perelman, speaking first, who made the most impact. Divorced from Cohen for many, many years, he told the crowd — most of whom were in disbelief because Claudia had kept her seven-year illness a total secret — the chronology of what had happened.
It appears that throughout his marriage to Barkin, the Revlon chairman was immersed in trying to find a cure for Cohen, who had ovarian cancer. He went so far as to commission a vaccine privately — something only a billionaire could do.
"I learned everything I know about business from my father," Perelman said, "but everything else [about the world] from Claudia."
For a man who’s lived his personal life in the New York tabloids for 20 years, it was a stunning, disarming account of the life no one sees behind gossip headlines. It was quite remarkable. Just like Claudia’s life.