No matter what anyone says, has said or will say in the next little while, Tom Cruise is not taking the "Mission: Impossible" series with him anywhere.
The movie series — and the TV series upon which it was based — belongs to Paramount Pictures. It has belonged to the studio since Lucille Ball’s Desilu Studios, which created the TV show, was sold to Gulf + Western in the 1960s and was ultimately combined into Paramount Pictures.
Several stories over the weekend suggested that Cruise and his partner Paula Wagner "created the franchise." The Financial Times reported that Paramount had “lost the franchise.”
On the contrary, it’s quite possible that, after a needed rest, "Mission: Impossible" could return with a new star or a group of stars in an ensemble cast. The latter would more correctly reflect the original nature of the show as it was created by the late Bruce Geller. Originally, the concept was for a team, not a hero and a bunch of sidemen.
Paramount could easily remake "M: I" into a James Bond-type series, which has weathered cast changes every few years with no wear or tear.
In the end, it’s always about the script anyway. Cruise, even if he’d stayed at Paramount, had probably exhausted his efforts in the role of Ethan Hunt. In five years, for example, maybe Haley Joel Osment or Chad Michael Murray will be up for the role!
Meanwhile, Hollywood insiders are closely watching Cruise’s movements in his search for independent financing for his production company.
He has more than a few things going against him. One: A poor track record for non-Cruise films other than "The Others." Two: Most of the people he will meet with are either on mood-altering drugs or seeing psychiatrists.
Most especially, the company town is wondering if Cruise’s money will come in part or at all from Joe Feshbach, whose family is Scientology royalty.
Feshbach and his brothers and their families are pretty much the church’s largest benefactors, and Joe’s daughter Jessica is considered Katie Holmes’ official “minder.”
The Feshbachs, who live in Palo Alto, Calif., have made millions upon millions off of Wall Street, speculating on the potential failure of certain stocks. They’ve come up against many legal obstacles over the years, but their loyalty to Scientology has been unwavering.
Earlier this year, Matt Feshbach — one of Joe’s two brothers — told reporter Robert Farley in the St. Petersburg Times in Florida that he thought he had “super powers.”
Farley wrote that Feshbach “senses danger faster than most people. He appreciates beauty more deeply than he used to. He says he outperforms his peers in the money management industry."
This is all reportedly based on a new highest-level Scientology program called Super Powers. Farley, interviewing former Scientologists, wrote: ”[The program] uses machines, apparatus and specially designed rooms to exercise and enhance a person's so-called perceptics.
"Those machines include an antigravity simulator and a gyroscope-like apparatus that spins a person around while blindfolded to improve perception of compass direction ... A video screen that moves forward and backward, while flashing images are used to hone a viewer's ability to identify subliminal messages.”
If Cruise does turn to the Feshbachs, the brothers can expect a load of renewed interest in their affairs — something they may not relish.
Music Chief Sells Off $17 Million in Stock
Lyor Cohen, the head of Warner Music Group, is apparently having a bad divorce. At least, that’s what he says in recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings now publicly available.
They show that between Aug. 11 and 16, Cohen sold off $17,212,000 in WMG stock.
The sale of all this stock, according to the SEC form, was to “address financial needs arising from the anticipated divorce settlement with the spouse of the Reporting Person.”
It’s nice to know someone at Warner Music Group — aside from Edgar Bronfman Jr. — even has $18 million. Currently the company has five albums on the charts, none of them selling very well.
Only two are from Warner; the others come from Atlantic Records. And two of those come from Sean 'Diddy' Combs’ Bad Boy Entertainment.
Today, all eyes will be on Paris Hilton’s dubious debut as a pop star as numbers come in from her album’s first week.
Amazon.com lists Hilton’s album at No. 36 right now. Even if she sold a respectable number of CDs in her first week, Hilton still has high overhead and lots of travel expenses that will be charged back to her before she sees one red cent.
Meanwhile, Cohen must really want out of his 14 year marriage to wife, Amy — mother of his two kids — to sell off so much stock. According to an earlier report in The New York Post, Lyor stays in the Fifth Avenue mansion, while Amy and the kids move out.
Bob Newhart Saves the Emmy Awards
Yes, Barry Manilow beat David Letterman, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert last night and won an Emmy Award from them — they were all in the same category. This was after his cringe-inducing performance of the American Bandstand theme song, cooing to a seated Dick Clark.
But Bob Newhart, aided by Conan O'Brien, saved the Emmys from what was otherwise one of the more tedious and grueling efforts of its kind.
It was also incredibly self-congratulatory, which was funny, since many of the winners were from shows no longer on the air.
In that regard, Blythe Danner, who seemed a little loopy when she hit the stage to accept her win for “Huff,” said: “I guess I have to thank Showtime even though they cancelled us.”
It was that kind of night, all about shows and people you sort of knew and didn’t really care about in one way or another.
I could put together a decent conspiracy theory that Leah Remini was only nominated for “King of Queens” because she’d come and answer some questions about seeing baby Suri Cruise (she did, too, reluctantly, for Ryan Seacrest in the pre-show).
But Newhart allowed himself to be included in a running gag about the show’s length — sort of influenced by the National Lampoon’s old “buy this magazine or we’ll shoot this dog” routine.
In this case, Newhart was “sealed” into a glass case and said to have only three hours of oxygen. If the show ran over the time limit, he’d be dead.
The payoff was a good dialogue with O’Brien at the end, when the host revealed poll results. Six percent of callers, he noted, didn’t care whether Newhart lived or died. The look on Bob’s face was worth the evening.
But Candice Bergen needs a stylist, and Tracy Morgan needs to straighten up and fly right. Calista Flockhart still needs a cheeseburger, and Steve Carell needs an explanation and a consolation prize. That he didn’t win Best Actor in a Comedy for “The Office” is a scandal — no matter how good Tony Shalhoub is in "Monk."
Other than the awards and speeches for them, the best segment of the night was the tribute to Aaron Spelling. His widow and daughter sat at opposite ends of a row in the audience, not talking to each other. It was like an episode of "Dynasty." All of the women involved were dermatological wonders, with Heather Locklear winning for face with the least movement. Jaclyn Smith, on the other hand, remains remarkably beautiful.
The Emmys continue to do what they can to ignore cable and celebrate broadcast television. HBO picked up its few prestige awards, and Jeremy Piven got noticed for “Entourage” (you can’t miss him).
But the Emmys are really a tribute to the real Hollywood economy of television production on the West Coast. Neither actual artistry nor cultural significance really matters, since it’s all about keeping kids in Brentwood private schools and watering sumptuous Bel Air lawns. Television people are largely pedestrian.
Several pans of the audience picked up both Warren Beatty and Harrison Ford, two actual stars, and their thought balloons were priceless: “Who are these people?”