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TomKat Baby Gets the Last Laugh

Tomkat Baby Gets The Last Laugh | Queen Elizabeth: Spicy and Saucy | Is Hip-Hop Over? Country Rules Top 20 | Last Stop, Greenwich Village

Tomkat Baby Gets the Last Laugh

Suri Holmes Cruise was born last night, as if you didn't know it. The baby of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, conceived two months after they met one year ago, was named Suri, Cruise said in a release, "taken from the Hebrew."

This makes sense, since Cruise is a non-practicing Catholic, who became a Scientologist. To get the name Suri, you actually have to subscribe to Kabbalah, a very distant offshoot of Judaism.

Suri would really be Sarah, except Kabbalah — as it is now taught to celebrities — is all about taking letters and making new words out of them.

Madonna did it on her last tour. Suri is derived from Sarah mathematically. But Sarah, wife of Abraham, mother of Isaac, as some have suggested, is described as the only woman in the Bible who laughed.

Let's hope Suri's life is full of laughter, and that she's raised in a normal environment with lots of opportunities to become the person she wants to be. It's a long shot, but today, after all, is actually the first day of the rest of her life.

Let's also hope her baby pictures aren't auctioned off to a celebrity magazine and that she isn't trotted out for any movie premieres. Indeed, the triple screening run of "Mission: Impossible 3" premieres in two weeks in New York.

Queen Elizabeth: Spicy and Saucy

The last time we saw Queen Elizabeth I, she was played by Cate Blanchett in Shekar Kaphur's fine 1998 film called "Elizabeth."

Joseph Fiennes played her lover, Robert Dudley. The Queen was a young woman with a lot of moxie. Later in that same season, Dame Judi Dench played Elizabeth for eight minutes in "Shakespeare in Love" and won the Oscar for portraying the outspoken royal with bravado.

You'd think that would have been enough, right?

Hardly. This weekend, HBO unveils a two-part, four-hour movie starring Helen Mirren as Elizabeth, Jeremy Irons as Dudley and Hugh Dancy as Dudley's stepson, the "Earl of Essex."

The second part also stars Toby Jones, who will become more known to all of us this fall as Truman Capote in Douglas McGrath's film not be confused with last year's "Capote."

Last night we got to see "Elizabeth I" on the big screen at the Museum of Modern Art with an intermission. This is what I will tell you: If this movie had been edited and combined into a three-hour motion picture for theaters, it would have been nominated for many Academy Awards and perhaps won a few. It is one of those extraordinary costume dramas that is so absorbing you never want it to end.

There are many reasons for this, starting with the script by Nigel Williams and direction by Tom Hooper. Bravo to both of them. Williams' screenplay manages to make Elizabeth's journey from middle age to death, including several lovers and wars. What the production has done is fill in the blanks between Blanchett and Dench to give Elizabeth's life incredible dimension.

But the real reason to watch both nights of HBO, besides the always good Irons and relative newcomer Dancy, is Mirren.

As Elizabeth, she carries the four hours with mesmerizing fluidity. She will win the Emmy, the Golden Globe and anything else they can find for her when awards are handed out next fall. She is just amazing.

And what's really great about her performance is that when she could be chewing scenery, Mirren pulls back. She isn't obvious, even when armed with speeches that most actresses would kill — and die — for.

And because it's on HBO, Elizabeth has something for everyone: lots of gore, graphic beheadings, a disemboweling that would make Daniel Day-Lewis' Butcher from "Gangs of New York" avert his eyes.

To balance that out, the costumes and sets are as sumptuous as ever. And Hugh Dancy is likely to replace Orlando Bloom and Heath Ledger as the swashbuckling hero of this generation.

Is Hip-Hop Over? Country Rules Top 20

I heard a weird rumor a few weeks ago: Clear Channel was telling its stations that by the end of this year, hip-hop and rap would be "over." They were making significant changes at their radio stations that would emphasize pop music and songs again.

Look at this week's top 20: There are only three hip-hop CDs — LL Cool J, NeYo and T.I. Six of the top 20 albums are by country artists, including Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood. Kelly Clarkson, Shakira and Pink represent female pop.

James Blunt and Daniel Powter are on the male side. Four CDs are actually for children. That leaves Nickelback as the lone rock entry and a collection of pop singles, "Now That's What I Call Music, Vol. 21," rounds it out.

Is it a trend? Have the yodeling, sampling, scatting, indecipherable packaged hoods finally been sent packing after a generation of pulling the wool over the public's eyes? One can only hope this is the case. Maybe it's a sign that today's kids actually want more out of their music.

You could say that rock is also vanishing, but that probably isn't the case. Rascal Flatts' CD is as much rock as it is country, with a decidedly more mainstream sound than most of the music that comes out of Nashville.

But what's really interesting is the proliferation of pop — just as it was described for me — already swamping radio.

Last Stop, Greenwich Village

On the night when rumors were rampant that Village Voice "dean of rock critics" Robert Christgau was being given the boot, there was a big fire in our neighborhood.

Ironically, the site of the fire was what used to be the Lone Star Roadhouse, site of many legendary musical presentations in the late '70s and early '80s.

Tourists may recall the landmark building because it once sported a gigantic iguana on its roof. But then, greedy landlords forced the Lone Star out. One of those fruit stand/cheap flower and salad bar places moved in and held forth for more than a decade. The other day, this reporter noticed the place all boarded up with what looked like kindling. Later you could smell the acrid smoke for blocks.

Funny that it's the same day that Christgau is said to have gotten the axe. It's not like anyone reads the Village Voice or cares about it anymore. It was destroyed years ago, like most of what we used to call "the Village."

By summer, CBGB will be out of the East Village, thanks to another greedy landlord. Balducci's was taken over by a suburban supermarket chain and reinvented as a yuppie eyesore. The old Academy/Palladium, like a lot of the neighborhood, is occupied by the even greedier New York University.

The school has bulldozed huge chunks of what was supposed to be under landmark designation. When their reps call for alumni contributions, it's all I can do to get off the phone politely.

Yeah, I sound like the old curmudgeon. But everyone comes down here to get the vibe from things that are gone. Now kids just walk around aimlessly in packs all summer, probably wondering what it is that made this place so special.

Maybe they can ask the owners of New Times, the company that bought the Village Voice. I doubt they know the difference between Greenwich Street and Greenwich Avenue, which house was blown up the Weather Underground or where Mark Twain lived. But they know where all the Starbucks are.