Forget whatever it was Tom Cruise told Diane Sawyer about his relationship with Katie Holmes' parents.
The truth is, Katie's parents, Martin and Kathleen Holmes, didn’t get to see baby Suri up close and personal until the day of the "Mission: Impossible 3" premiere in Los Angeles.
That would have been May 4. Suri was born in the late afternoon on April 17.
You do the math, fans. That's two and a half weeks. The Holmeses were specifically not invited until Tom was back home in Los Angeles after his worldwide promotional tour and could monitor the baby’s first visit with her maternal grandparents.
Tom’s mother, Mary Jo Mapother-South, was there for the delivery. So were Tom’s sisters. But, as widely reported, the Holmeses were at their vacation home in Florida when they got the news that their daughter had given birth to their first grandchild.
“They are heartbroken,” says the source who filled me in on this, and this person knows what they’re talking about.
But no one who’s interviewed Cruise for "M: I3" has dared asked these questions.
Instead, they’ve let Cruise refer to Katie as “Kate” and do all the talking for her. The Holmeses are scared to speak out, say friends, for fear that they will be cut off even more from Katie and Suri.
It’s not like the public hasn’t sensed something is wrong with all this. The result has been an enormous backlash against Cruise.
Yesterday’s box office numbers for "M: I3" were even lower than the day before. The movie took in a mere $2,783,719 on Wednesday, down 13 percent from Tuesday’s $3,204,660, according to boxofficemojo.com.
This is a big problem, since "M: I3" is playing in 4,000 theatres, one of the widest releases ever for a feature film.
At this point, if tonight’s numbers aren’t much, much better, "M: I3" will begin to self-destruct.
If you’re looking for context here, compare "M:I3" to "Spider-Man 2," a movie that played in a comparable number of theaters. On the first Tuesday and Wednesday after its weekend debut, "Spider-Man 2" took in, respectively, $10 million and $9 million. "M: I3" is very far off that track.
The New York state attorney general has levied a $12 million fine against Universal Music Group for payola.
This is the largest fine so far in the war between Eliot Spitzer and the music industry, surpassing the $10 million that Sony had to pay and the $5 million for Warner Music Group.
But Universal — home of many overnight stars including several rappers who’ve come and gone — would be the place for this. The company has had enormous success, but at the same time encountered lawsuits from middle-men distributors claiming inflated sales numbers — double dipping at the cash register, so to speak.
Now we have some proof of what’s going on there, thanks to memos supplied as evidence by Spitzer’s office. Many of the acts are those you’ve never heard of. But others are illustrative of how Universal (which includes Island/Def Jam, Motown, Interscope and other labels) tried to force bad music down our throats.
Spitzer’s office includes one very illuminating e-mail from a Universal promotion man: “Guys: We need to get confirmation on what we are doing with the station. Use these promotion [sic] to leverage airplay and rotations.”
And in fact, UMG was doing what it could to persuade radio stations to play its music.
According to the report, they bought a laptop computer for at least one station and sent many people on expensive vacations.
Their graft was in fact no different than that of the other companies Spitzer has fined, just more of it proportionately across the board.
Take Lindsay Lohan. The teen actress was turned into a singer by Tommy Mottola, who made an interesting deal at Universal to start a label just for her.
Mottola also managed Lohan, which no one questioned, and he claimed that UMG had put up $50 million to get the ball rolling.
But Lohan is no singer, and no one, not even her movie fans, wanted her albums or to hear her on the radio.
Nevertheless, the record company persisted. A series of e-mails in June 2005 shows what was happening — a manipulation of MTV’s “Total Request Live” show that airs every afternoon and can seriously affect a new record’s fortunes.
UMG, according to Spitzer’s reports, was spending money at radio stations and for “TRL” to “stuff the ballot box” (my words) and turn losers into winners.
The memo series is all about one subject: “We are hiring a request company starting Monday to jack TRL for Lindsay…Guys this is a no win situation how should I respond...there is no airplay we have been pursuing…”
Even more troubling, but not surprising, is a group called Dream originally found by Sean "Diddy" Combs. A July 2003 e-mail tells the story:
“Okay, this is not fun for me. I’ve been consumed all day with calls with etc bitching about our radio picture on Dream. Confidentially pop has spent $196,000 and r/c has spent $72,000 ... This is embarrassing a total lack of accountability. We have gotten ripped off beyond belief, we better turn this thing around or it’s our a**. That’s almost $300,000 and they are looking for some heads…bad bad bad…If I find out that deals were cut with lack of airplay and overnight spins starting with the nationals, as they say heads are gonna roll, including mine.”
Of course, the record companies are not alone in creating this atmosphere of payola. The radio stations have encouraged and accepted it.
Spitzer’s office is conducting an investigation of the stations’ parent companies, most glaringly Clear Channel, and we should be hearing about those results and more fines soon.
Hugh Jackman will not be hosting this year’s Tony Awards. But he did show up last night to see his portrait taken by his “X-Men: The Last Stand” director Brett Ratner.
Ratner’s black and white photographs, very Avedon-ish and completely arresting, were shown in A makeshift gallery put together by Extell Real Estate in the lobby of their newest building on West 18 St.
Extell’s Gary Barnett looked slightly shocked as Jackman, Kelsey Grammer (with wife Camille), Ann Dexter Jones, Russell and Kimora Simmons (reunited for the occasion), "X-Man" James Marsden, plus Barry Diller, Ron Burkle, model-filmmaker Irina Pantaeva and husband Roland Levin, Sony CFO Rob Wiesenthal, New Line Cinema’s Michael Lynne and Steve Abramson worked their way through the 600 or so fans who came to help Ratner launch his stellar exhibition.
Of course, everyone waited patiently for Mariah Carey to come down and inspect her portrait —maybe the best picture ever taken of her — but the singer got stuck at an event hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King.
She sent her regrets, then headed to Nobu 57 for a late dinner with L.A. Antonio Reid, the head of her record company.
Ratner took his gang to Mr. Chow, at the opposite end of 57 St., where infamous art dealer Tony Shafrazi was finishing up his own dinner party.
But I did ask Jackman at the show what happened with him and the Tonys.
“They didn’t ask me,” he said. “But I couldn’t do it anyway. It’s my dad’s 70 birthday and we’re going to Australia to be with him.”
Jackman told me that he thinks the new “X-Men” movie is probably the best in the trilogy.
“Even though I really liked the second one,” he said. “Brett did an amazing job.”
Paul Simon Rocks; Mother's Day
Maybe to just to show Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young that he could do it, Paul Simon has released a tremendous new album of material.
“Surprise” it is the title, and the music is full of them. Simon has teamed up with producer Brian Eno, of Talking Heads and U2 fame, to make a collection of rockin’ anthems that address his second stab at fatherhood and Hurricane Katrina, among other topics.
Every day this week I’ve had a different favorite song from this album, starting with “Father and Daughter,” going to “Outrageous” and now “That’s Me.”
Simon’s lyrics have been never sharper or more poignant. “Surprise” is a CD headed to the Grammys, but before it gets there, I sure hope it finds a wide audience as soon as possible...
Steve Popovich, the man who brought Meatloaf from Cleveland to Columbia Records (now Sony) in the mid-'70s has filed a RICO lawsuit against Sony Music.
Popovich wants his Sony contracts voided and the rights to his records, especially Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell,” returned to him.
Last year, Popovich won $5 million from Sony after a court ruled that they should have included his logo on Meatloaf’s releases.
Popovich, who has made a career of suing Sony in the last decade, says he hasn’t received a royalty check since 1998.
Meanwhile, Meatloaf is working on his new album with producer Desmond Child and writer Jim Steinman, and it should be out later this year. It will not be on Sony, that’s for sure…
Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I will be traveling to London. So here is a gift to my mother, Rosalind Friedman, a theater critic from WMNR Radio in Connecticut and a member of the nominating committee for the Outer Critics Circle on Broadway (don’t worry, I sent her flowers, too).
Last night, mom attended a performance of a new play about Thurgood Marshall. Here is her report:
"'Thurgood,' starring the magnificent actor James Earl Jones, is receiving standing ovations for his portrayal of the late great Supreme Court Justice and is filling every seat at the Westport Country Playhouse.
Among the stars attending tonight were Sigourney Weaver, a natural beauty, and Tony award-winner Denis O'Hare. The production, which opened April 30, has been extended until June 2.”
She’s usually right about these things, so I guess we can expect “Thurgood” to come to New York sometime later this year.