Cruise Control Getting Confused | No Grammy Bounce for CD Sales | Redford Right About Sundance

Cruise Control Getting Confused

It’s starting to confuse even those who’ve paid most diligent interest to Tom Cruise’s personal life: exactly what is going on, and how do players in the Anthony Pellicano story come into it? Even Cruise may be having trouble deciphering who is friend or foe at this point.

Over the weekend, the less-than-reliable London Daily Mail, Sunday edition, raised a ruckus over a book being researched by Andrew Morton about Cruise.

Morton, of course, wrote Princess Diana’s famous tell-all. Now he’s busy investigating Cruise, with lurid headlines to follow.

The Mail dragged into the proceedings Los Angeles private investigator Paul Barresi, saying Morton was using Barresi to dig up dirt on Cruise.

Barresi, writes the Mail’s Sharon Churcher, is a former gay porno star, and if Morton is relying on him for research, then Cruise is really in trouble!

Deep breath, everyone: Barresi isn’t gay. And even though he acted in adult movies in Hollywood when he was younger, that doesn’t mean he’s about to do in Cruise. (Barresi is also married, and, not being terribly famous himself, isn’t in that relationship for appearances).

Barresi also has access to those National Enquirer tapes from the early '90s that show the tabloid trying to concoct stories about everyone.

If anything, I'm told that whatever info Barresi has stored away on Cruise can only help the "Mission: Impossible" star.

A few years ago, Barresi, in his role as an investigator, helped Pellicano scare off a potentially damaging lawsuit against Cruise, thanks to his expert knowledge of the porn community (you see? You never know what’s going to come in handy!)

But Cruise’s personal business still may be encumbered by the recent indictment of another private detective, Pellicano.

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that the law firm of Bert Fields, Cruise’s lawyer, helped Pellicano seek a patent for a wiretapping device called TeleSleuth — a device that Pellicano used to record phone conversations of his clients’ enemies.

Fields’ attorney insists that Fields himself didn’t work on the patent, and that no one at the firm had any idea that TeleSleuth would be used for allegedly nefarious purposes.

All of this comes back to Morton: in the past, a book about Cruise would be dealt with harshly by Fields, who has already sent warning notices to author and publisher.

In the past, such a book would have been stopped cold before it was begun. But with Pellicano in prison and Fields being watched — fairly or unfairly — in the Pellicano case, the result may be that Morton has an open field.

No Grammy Bounce for CD Sales

With all those incredible performances at last Wednesday’s Grammy Awards, you’d think there would have been a subsequent sales bonanza in record stores (or do we call them CD stores?)

But the way things looked yesterday on the hitsdailydouble Web site, fans did not run to pick up CDs by the artists who appeared on the show. In fact, with 37 percent of retail stores accounted for, the hits site shows only Kelly Clarkson getting any kind of decided boost from her appearance and double Grammy win.

Right now, U2 and Kanye West aren’t even making the hits chart, although that’s sure to change today. Over at Amazon.com, U2’s Grammy-winning “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” is No. 8. Kanye’s “Late Registration” is No. 45, but that doesn’t mean anything since Amazon seems to not have many R&B customers. Their CD sales tend to the mainstream (and that’s an understatement).

If “hits” is correct, the big winner from last week is still … Barry Manilow. His “Songs from the Fifties” may repeat at No. 1, with another 150,000 copies sold. Manilow is so happy about his re-found fame that over the weekend he entertained his label chief, Clive Davis, and several friends at his Palm Springs estate.

Evidently, Manilow has calmed down some: right before Davis’ pre-Grammy celebration began last week, Manilow — having just arrived at the Beverly Hilton — had what was described to me as a “meltdown.” Others called it a “hissy fit.” The word was he thought he was supposed to close Clive’s show, a distinction that went more appropriately to Jamie Foxx.

But Barry pulled himself together and put on a fine medley of his hits before Foxx came on. Look, Barry Manilow certainly was never hip, ever. The fact that he’s on the charts and at No. 1 in 2006 — this is unbelievable. He should be carrying Clive around in a sedan chair!

And one other thing about Clive’s party, while we’re on the subject. Reports yesterday that Mary J. Blige wouldn’t sing with Jamie Foxx because she felt slighted — they were wrong. When the party began that night, Davis said from the stage: “Mary J. Blige begged me to get her on earlier tonight than in the past.”

A few years ago, Mary J. came with Whitney Houston and waited all night to get on stage. This year, she had to get up early the next day. When it was certain that the evening was running late, she simply left. You couldn’t blame her. And Fantasia’s impromptu performance with Foxx was thrilling.

But what to do if CD sales from the Grammy’s really turn out to be lifeless? Personally, I thought when Mariah Carey did her “Fly Like a Bird” number, a million CDs would be sold. It looks like the real total will about a tenth of that. Of course, maybe that’s because nearly everyone in the US of A has Mariah’s album by now, in two different configurations.

The real reason CDs aren’t selling? Maybe it’s time to start looking at radio monopolies, and how they’re stifling interest in pop music.

Redford Right About Sundance

Robert Redford is right, as usual. In one sentence, he described for Newsweek this week exactly what is wrong with the Sundance Film Festival. “I think it is close to being out of control,” he said. I couldn’t have put it any better.

Now that I’m able to catch my breath, I can tell you that this year’s Sundance was a melee. Traffic in Park City was completely out of control, as was the basic population problem. At night, Main Street in this tiny skiing village was filled to capacity with drunk teenagers and 20-somethings who party hopped from one corporate gang-bang to another.

There were many times when, drawn into small talk, I asked a stranger what used to be the main Sundance question: “What have you seen that you’ve liked?” And the answer this year, more than ever before was: “I haven’t seen any movies.” The person usually had a sheepish grin. They knew they were in town for all the wrong reasons.

Park City has always been a friendly small town, but the massive influx of money, plus the importing of huge numbers of workers from other cities just for festival week, made it a surly place this year.

For example: when I told the night manager at my hotel — a place I’ve been staying at for years — that my room was unacceptable (it was in the basement) — he pretty much told me the equivalent of “bugger off.” It took a call to the hotel company’s corporate headquarters in Maryland the next morning to get things straightened out.

There were all kinds of other changes, including new makeshift cab companies that price-gouged and didn’t even know their way around town!

Sundance is a film festival, not spring break. But that’s what it’s becoming. The true nature of the festival still works. I saw a lot of good indie films with many terrific performances. The spirit of Sundance lives, but what’s going on in Park City has started to seep in. It’s not fun to miss a screening because traffic is so congested you can’t get near a theater.

And talk of “swag,” which was cute a couple of years ago, is now simply obnoxious. The many private lounges, bars, gift departments were much worse this year. So was the greed of the celebrities who came to collect it. Do pop stars and ingénues really need free stuff that looks like it came from an outlet mall?

What Redford’s minions need to do is create limits to how much of everything can be allowed in town. They’ll have to do this with Park City’s chamber of commerce. Tourism money is always desired, but I can’t believe that that little town is enjoying this new annual pillaging.

It’s time for everyone involved in Sundance to take stock, and for some measures to be put in place. Otherwise, next year is going to be that much worse — and Paris Hilton will be the least of their problems.

But here’s some good Sundance news: I hear that three of my favorite films have either found distributors or are about to close deals. One of those, Dito Montiel’s “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” apparently has Ruth Vitale in her new role at First Look closing in on this. Bravo!Chazz Palminteri is brilliant in it.

Another, “Sherrybaby” with a phenomenal performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal, is about to be signed, as is the Ryan Gosling/Anthony Mackie feature that I so liked, “Half Nelson” (just please, give this one a different title — my suggestion: “Danny Boy”).