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'M: I3': Art Imitates Life, or Vice Versa

Cruise and Katie | Leslie Stahl | Larry King | Michelle Rodriguez

'MI: 3' Plot: Art Imitates Life, or Vice Versa

In “Mission: Impossible 3,” secret agent Ethan Hunt takes a bride, and she looks a lot like Katie Holmes.

According to sources who attended a super secret screening of the film last night, the girl in question is Michelle Monaghan, who beat out Holmes, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner and others for the role. Holmes wound up with the other role, that of Cruise’s real life (almost, maybe) wife.

The addition of a wife — no spoiler since it’s apparently known from the start — triggers the plot of “MI:3.”

“And this makes Ethan vulnerable to attacks,” says my source, because the wife doesn’t know he’s an agent (shades of Governor Arnold’s “True Lies”).

Hey, in the original "Mission: Impossible," Martin Landau and Barbara Bain were married in real life when the TV show was on the air. It’s not so far-fetched.

So, was the plot for “M: I3” hatched before or after the plot to find Tom Cruise a mother for his child last year? Is art imitating life, is it vice versa and how calculated is all of this? We may never know.

But my insiders who got to attend Viacom chief Tom Freston’s screening last night had basically good news for “M: I” fans: they rated the film an “8.”

Here’s what I was told: lots of action, exciting locales including a long sequence in Shanghai, and Philip Seymour Hoffman shines as the villainous Davian. He steals the movie from Tom Cruise, but I suspect Cruise knew that was going to happen.

Apart from the whole Katie/baby thing, Cruise has always been canny about casting very talented co-stars like Jamie Foxx (“Collateral”), Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Jerry Maguire”) and Ken Watanabe (“Last Samurai”). Cruise no doubt remembered how much better his scenes in “Magnolia” were because Hoffman, now an Oscar winner, was in the room.

“It’s a hit,” says the FOX 411 tipster, “but the question is, how big? Will women come and see it?” And, of course, will all the craziness about Tom and Katie, Scientology and no baby baptisms have any effect on the box office?

And who got to see “M: I” first? A bevy of movers and shakers including News Corp.’s leader Rupert Murdoch and wife Wendy; moviemaker Harvey Weinstein and girlfriend Georgina Chapman; Warner Records’ Lyor Cohen; and previously jailed, controversial former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who was not accompanied by husband Jason Epstein. There were also writers from Newsweek and The New York Times.

Who wasn’t there? Embattled Paramount president Brad Grey, who didn’t come in from Hollywood. But if “M: I3” performs well, Grey will get the credit for giving the studio its first big hit in some time.

With Gerry Rich handling marketing, my guess is “M: I3,” TomKat or no TomKat, will have two rocking weeks to itself before the third “X-Men” rolls out on Memorial Day weekend.

Lesley Stahl to Katie: Bring It On

“60 Minutes” veteran star Lesley Stahl is ready and waiting for Katie Couric to join the show this fall as a correspondent.

But don’t expect the two ladies to discuss story ideas. Lesley actually recoiled when I suggested that plan.

“Oh now, we’re pretty competitive over there,” she said. “We don’t share what we’re working on with anyone.”

Stahl told me at the premiere of that terrific HBO movie, “Elizabeth I,” that she expects Couric to jump right into “60 Minutes” this fall and she’s pulling for her success.

“You have no idea how much I want her to do well,” Stahl said. No kidding — this “stahl-wart” has been the lone full-time female at CBS for years, doing serious, meaningful journalism that is often not flashy. By now, Stahl is probably hoping for some company.

Larry King's Breakfast Club

If you’re measured by the company you keep in this lifetime, then Larry King has a lot of explaining to do.

It’s already been well-established that on most mornings he dines with former publisher Michael Viner, whose history of issuing utter junk between covers probably has Bennett Cerf spinning in his grave.

No chance at winning the Pulitzer or any publishing awards for Viner. His greatest hits include Faye Resnick’s trumped up “Diary” of her days with the late Nicole Brown Simpson; a memoir by four call girls called “You’ll Never Make Love in This Town Again”; and disgraced New York Times reporter Jayson Blair’s “Burning Down My Master’s House.” That last book actually put him out of business for good.

So what’s Viner been up to lately? My sources say that he and King are still having their breakfast club. But from last October through this past February, they were joined by a guest member: baseball player Barry Bonds.

“Bonds ate with them almost every morning during the off-season,” says a diner who saw them. And at least on one occasion, the threesome was joined by William Morris Talent Agency chief Jim Wiatt.

At least one person some of these people have in common is jailed private eye Anthony Pellicano. To wit: Bonds used Pellicano about 12 years to shake off a girlfriend who claimed he’d fathered her child.

And Viner, more recently, is said to have hired Pellicano in his nasty divorce from actress Deborah Raffin. What’s known is this: before Pellicano went to prison, he was writing a novel about his experiences for Viner, so that the publisher could keep up his track record of fine literature.

You may recall that prior to his incarceration, Pellicano shopped a TV series based on his life to HBO. Brad Grey, then a talent manager and producer of “The Sopranos,” was the one who brought it to the cable network.

Wiatt, I am told, was going to be the agent on the project. And Oscar-winning director William Friedkin (“The French Connection”) would be behind the camera.

The irony there is that Friedkin’s wife, Sherry Lansing, was then the head of Paramount Pictures. She has since been succeeded in that position by Grey. Small world.

The Pellicano series didn’t sell, and Grey dropped it. But what may have brought Wiatt to Larry King’s breakfast club last winter was Viner’s latest idea: to turn Pellicano’s novel into a movie. Of course, this was before his 120-count indictment.

But imagine if the movie had been made, and Pellicano was released from prison last February without the new indictment. He could have joined the others in the breakfast club, and they all could have promoted the film on “Larry King Live.”

Is Michelle Rodriguez 'Lost'?

Internet rumors are swirling that the two stars of "Lost" who’ve had DUIs over in Hawaii are not long for that world. By that world, I mean whatever place the people of “Lost” are inhabiting.

Michelle Rodriguez, who plays the feisty Ana Lucia, is said to be leaving the show at the end of the season. It’s hard to believe, since characters that "die" are presumably being released from purgatory into heaven (or something like that). Ana Lucia, I think, would be going to hell for killing Shannon.

But who knows? One thing’s for certain, Rodriguez — who got her start so brilliantly in “Girlfight” — has not had an easy time of it on the set of “Lost”…

And still there’s another rumor that Cynthia Watros, who plays Libby, is leaving for a CBS sitcom with Tom Cavanagh. What’s really strange about this is that Cavanagh just bombed in the god-awful “Love Monkey.” Shouldn’t there be an appropriate period of mourning — like a couple of seasons? Anyway, Watros also had a Hawaiian DUI this year.

What no one says about “Lost,” and what seems more pressing, is that its nominal “star” Matthew Fox is off to shoot a big feature film this spring during the show’s hiatus. “We Are... Marshall” is directed by videomaker McG, who lensed “Charlie’s Angels.”

Fox co-stars with Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Mackie, Ian McShane and David Straitharn. He follows “We Are… Marshall” with “Vantage Point,” at which point, if he gets good buzz off the shoots, FOX will start agitating to leave “Lost” himself.

And that’s when Lost becomes a five-season show, with the fifth season being all about looking for Fox’s character. This happened to another Fox a long time ago — Fox Mulder, from "The X Files," when David Duchovny left for his big film career.