Cruise Divorce Move Could Cost Nicole Plenty | Hannibal On Track For $60 Mil Record | Grammys vs. The Sopranos | No Grammy Party for Sony | Hannibal in Vogue — and Breaking Records | Jeff Buckley Story Catches Brad Pitt's Eye | A Grade B Hannibal | Puffy's Fashion Week Party | Private Prince Show

Tom Cruise Divorce Move Could Cost Nicole Plenty

Those who wonder what caused Tom Cruise to file for divorce so swiftly, at last here is an answer.

Under California divorce law, a couple married less than 10 years is not considered to have been in a "long term marriage." Cruise filed his papers on February 7, citing the length of his marriage to Nicole Kidman at exactly nine years and 11 months. The Cruises were married on December 24, 1990; Cruise claims the couple separated in "December 2000." 

This would refute claims made in other publications that the Cruises renewed their wedding vows on Christmas Eve. 

Donna Weaver, an expert family attorney in Hollywood, explained to me: "This gives a presumption that spousal support should not be considered." In other words, Cruise is asking the court not to force him to pay alimony to Kidman. If he'd hesitated much longer, Kidman would have had a much stronger case to cash in on their ten years together a possible $300 million net worth. 

On his divorce filing, Cruise also checked off box marked 7g, which indicates that he wants the court to enjoin Kidman from receiving alimony. He also checked off two boxes regarding custody of the couple's children Isabelle and Conor indicating his desire to have a strong participation in their lives. "He wants more than visitation," Weaver said. 

Hannibal on Track For $60 Mil Record 

Friday night box office numbers for Ridley Scott's Hannibal were extraordinary — nearly $19 million. That puts the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs on track for close to $60 million. That's some kind of record for a non-holiday February weekend. 

The biggest beneficiary of this is MGM Studios, which has drowned in red ink and bad releases for most of the last year. MGM lives off of James Bond releases. Hannibal's success guarantees this struggling, once mighty outfit a longer life. And it puts a better spin on some of their upcoming releases. Whoever cut that deal back in 1989 for Silence plus a sequel is looking pretty good today. 

Is $60 million a big deal? At that point the film is one or two weeks away from breaking even. Star Anthony Hopkins gets his larger cut from the back end, or the net profits, so tonight he's really salivating. And to think prior to Silence, Hopkins — always a gifted actor — worked in the shadow of Richard Burton as Wales' no. 2 movie star. I believe Cleopatra lost $60 million. Oh well. 

Grammys vs. The Sopranos 

The big weird news from the nasty little world of showbiz is that somehow HBO has planned its big gala premiere of the new Sopranos season on the same night as the Grammy Awards. 

How did this happen, you might ask? You see, big events like the Grammys, the Oscars, etc. are considered sacred in the publicity world. Another big event is never scheduled at the same time since the press can’t be in two places at once. 

The Grammy Awards are always held on the third Wednesday in February and broadcast on CBS. That’s been the tradition now for years. 

So what a surprise to learn that the third season of The Sopranos would be launched on the same night, but on a different coast. HBO is planning a blowout night on February 21 at New York's Radio City Music Hall, followed by a gala dinner at the New York Hilton for 2,000 people. All of The Sopranos stars and their friends will be there. But much of the entertainment press will be in Los Angeles that night, focusing on the Grammys. And if you think the Grammys might be boring, let me remind you that Madonna is the opening act. It’s a safe bet that the 11 o’clock news in most cities will be featuring her and pushing The Sopranos to the side. 

There’s an interesting rub to this strange event, though. The Sopranos is produced by Brillstein-Grey, whose principle owner, Brad Grey also happens to be the new agent for Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The Mayor and Michael Greene, president of the Grammys, have a long-running feud that has prevented the awards show from being in New York for the last couple of years. Coincidence? Hey, maybe, but weird anyway. 

HBO’s spokesman told me that, ironically, the mayor will be in Rome on February 21 and will not attend The Sopranos premiere. He’ll be attending Bishop Edward Egan’s elevation to cardinal in Vatican City. However: "He's sorry because he'd wanted to give The Sopranos a private reception at Gracie Mansion before the screening that night." 

The HBO rep explains that the cable network couldn't give The Sopranos its premiere a week later because the HBO Comedy Festival opens in Aspen on February 28, and then The Sopranos first episode airs on March 4. "So there was no better date to do the show. And from the RSVPs we’ve received, it doesn’t seem to matter. We’ll have plenty of celebrities including Steve van Zandt," the Bruce Springsteen rocker who plays the pompadoured Silvio Dante on the show. 

Ironically, The Sopranos soundtrack is up for a Grammy for best compilation album. 

No Grammy Party for Sony 

You may wonder how Sony Music’s Grammy plans tie in to Bishop Egan’s elevation (see above). 

Sony usually has a big party on Grammy night, as most record labels do. However, this year the company — which only has a few nominations thanks to Destiny’s Child and Ricky Martin — has opted to forego the usual big deal. Instead, Tommy Mottola has decided to have a private dinner for 100 people (which means 200, but who’s counting). 

Why the change? Probably because they have fewer nominees than usual this year. But one insider quipped, "After they gave Bishop Egan half a million dollars for Tommy’s wedding to Thalia, there was nothing left over." This, of course, is a catty reference to Mottola’s gift to St. Patrick’s Cathedral so he could have an annulment free wedding in December. 

And you didn’t think we could tie all of today’s stories together! 

Hannibal in Vogue — and Breaking Records 

Hannibal, the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, is about to break a lot of records. A spot check by this column of theaters in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. indicates that the movie has already sold out most of its shows for this evening — even where it's playing in multiplexes. 

The grisly Ridley Scott thriller that stars Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta and Gary Oldman (as the disfigured, but uncredited Mason Verger) is on track for a $50 million weekend if this pace keeps up. 

At New York City's Union Square Loews Theatre, staff said the theaters were almost completely sold out all afternoon. 

Meanwhile, Hannibal — despite its gruesome, bloody subject matter — has already become the "in" movie for the power set. Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue magazine, took over the MGM Screening Room on Sixth Ave. this afternoon so her 15-year-old could entertain his pals for his birthday. Sources tell me that the boy's friends had to get signed permission slips from the parents of the kids since it's R-rated and will cause nightmares. 

Jeff Buckley Story Catches Brad Pitt's Eye 

Entertainment Weekly’s music critic David Browne has just published Dream Brother, a wonderful double biography of two tragic figures in rock music: '60s icon Tim Buckley and his son, '90s rocker Jeff Buckley

Tim Buckley died in 1975 at age 28. Jeff, on the cusp of a superstar career, died in an accidental drowning at the age 30 in 1997. They met only once, a few months before Tim died. 

Jeff’s album, Grace, is considered a classic from the last decade. Tim’s album, Goodbye and Hello, is one of the great folk rock albums of the '60s. In March, Rhino Records will release a retrospective collection of Tim's best work. 

Now word comes that a number of younger actors are requesting copies of Dream Brother in hopes of a film version. Brad Pitt is among those who see themselves as one of the Buckleys. Once Dream Brother has its official publication in the next few days, expect most youngish male stars to be jockeying for the chance to play these parts. 

The story — sort of a real-life version of Frequency — is perfect for film. Both men died young and handsome and each had jam-packed lives full of romance, poetry and music. I can’t think of a real-life well-known father-and-son team — with the exception of Bruce Lee and his son Brandon — who also died a generation apart under such unusual circumstances. 

Dream Brother is published by HarperEntertainment, a division of HarperCollins. 

A Grade B Hannibal 

 

Last night, a roundtable of film critics collided into one another at Elaine's on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Elaine's being the last great salon left in NYC, the place was packed to the rafters with the likes of Michelle Lee, Lainie Kazan, writer Sidney Zion, Law and Order scribe Suzanne O'Malley and a gaggle of regulars. 

The topic — besides Tom and Nicole — was Hannibal. The consensus: grade B. A strong B, but a B nonetheless. As hordes of audience head for the show tonight, beware: Hannibal is campy, it's full of plot holes and overacting, it looks like Gladiator with shades of blue and gray. When it is gross, it is so over-the-top as to be almost unwatchable. This is not for children of any age. 

Yes, but is it fun? I guess so. In a very demented, unpleasant way. As a film, though, Hannibal is far inferior to The Silence of the Lambs. It lacks all restraint or common sense. The story is banal, and differs greatly from the extremely dismal book upon which it is based. 

That said, it will have a $30 million weekend. And more Hannibals are guaranteed, like Harry Potter books or Rocky movies. We are probably only scant years away from National Lampoon's Hannibal Weekend, Hannibal 3-D and the inevitable Return of Hannibal.

Puffy's Fashion Week Party 

New York is revving up for a weekend of extravaganzas. It's Fashion Week, or what I like to call the week when the stupid kids finally get their revenge. Up goes the tent in Bryant Park and out goes all good sense. 

On Saturday night, Puff Daddy — aka Sean Combs — currently on trial in lower Manhattan for three counts of weapon possession and a count of bribery, will throw a shindig for his Sean John clothing line. The fashion show is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST, which means 9 p.m. in the tent. Count on the party starting around 10, but really rocking around 1 a.m. You think you might lay low while you’re in the middle of a criminal trial? Not Puffy. What are the odds the police will be called, or the fire marshall, and this thing will be shut down soon after it begins? Very high. That will also describe the guests. Viva Las Vegas! 

Also on Saturday night, Oprah, Jane Fonda and dozens of powerful women will perform in The Vagina Monologues marathon over at Madison Square Garden. This might be a good night for bowling. 

Private Prince Show 

And finally, on Tuesday night, Prince plays New York in a private, sold-out show that’s sure to cause an uproar. His Web site says that the Artist formerly known as the Artist was holding Wednesday night for a show, but the notices have gone out to the select few for Tuesday. Prince is a nut job, but he’s a musical genius. The show he played for press in New York September 27, 2000 was outstanding. This should be nothing short of that and then some.