Politics — even in Hollywood — indeed does make for strange bedfellows.
Tom Cruise has found a little new money — about $ 3 million — for his production company. But it’s no case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
Cruise, in partnering with Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder and Virginia home builder Dwight W. Schar, is now in very different company than ever before.
Both Snyder and Schar are very big Republican donors, active in the Virginia Republican party, and huge supporters of President Bush.
This is in stark contrast to Sumner Redstone, head of Viacom/Paramount. Redstone, who lives in Massachusetts, is a Kennedy man and a big Democratic contributor.
Cruise’s partner, Paula Wagner, and her husband Rick Nicita, Cruise’s agent, are also active Democratic contributors in Hollywood.
Leaving the Democratic confines of Hollywood studios for outside money puts Cruise in an interesting position with his new partners.
According to federal election filings, Schar, for example, has given Republicans hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last few years and was President Bush’s finance co-chair in Virginia.
And Schar is seriously a Republican. In 2005, Schar gave $36,000 to Pennsylvania congressional candidate Michael Fitzpatrick, using his Palm Beach, Fla., address.
In the last two years, Schar has also contributed $77,400 to the Republican National Committee.
When he likes a candidate, he’s there for them, too. Schar sent Heather Wilson, New Mexico congressional candidate, $10,500 in 2004. His four-year total to all Republican campaigns comes to a little over $250,000.
But those were just his individual contributions. His NVR Homes gave over $500,000 in soft money in the crucial 2000-2002 campaign cycle as well.
The Schar family should appeal to Cruise in other ways, too. They are as devoted to the Republican party as his friends, the Feshbachs, whom I wrote about yesterday, are to Scientology.
Dwight Schar’s wife, Martha, has kicked in an additional $197,682 to Republicans since 2002. At different times she’s been listed as a "housewife" or "not in workforce."
Cruise will probably like Schar’s sense of humor, though, considering his own reputation as a control freak.
When Mother Jones magazine called Schar in 2001 about including him on a story about donors, the Virginian — credited with convincing Bush 43 to run for president — laughed, "Are you calling to say that if I give you money, you won't put me on the list?"
Snyder, meantime, is no slouch in the giving department. He has ponied up at least $40,000 in the last decade to Republican causes. He’s a big supporter and close personal friend of Sen. George Allen of Virginia, as well.
That makes sense, since the late great George Allen Sr. managed the Redskins from 1971-1977 (after more than a dozen years with the Bears and the Rams).
Again, in the crucial 2000 election cycle, his Snyder Communications gave $25,000 in soft money to Republicans.
By contrast, his wife, Tanya Snyder, donated her own $2,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2000. Not to worry: she also sent Republicans, including Orrin Hatch, $4,000.
In 2003, Tanya Snyder — described on her donation forms as a housewife, donated $10,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Mrs. Snyder’s total to Republicans since 2003: a little over $70,000.
All that should make for interesting dinner conversations — not to mention choices of movies to make — among all these people, since Cruise himself gave Democratic candidates a total of $29,500 in 1998-2000, including $2,000 to Hillary Clinton and $1,000 each to Tom Dashchle and Barbara Boxer. Cruise also gave money to Boxer in 2003.
His partner, Wagner, has made small donations to the campaigns of John Kerry, Daschle and Wesley Clark. Both Wagner and husband Nicita have sent money as well to Minnesota senatorial candidate (and county prosecutor) Amy Klobuchar, who’s about as Democratic as you can get: she’s a protégé of Walter Mondale.
And here’s a little twist: on three of her four political donations, Wagner identified herself as a movie producer. But on her most recent, dated May 31, 2006, she entered "self-employed" as her occupation.
Was she just prescient, or did Wagner know — some 26 days after "Mission: Impossible 3" had been open and was clearly underperforming — that the party was over for her and Cruise and Paramount?
Michael Jackson turns 48 years young today. It must be a day for some introspection. Here’s where he’s at:
Self-exiled from the United States, Jackson remains temporarily parked on the Middle East island of Bahrain, where he’s the moonwalking pet of Prince Abdullah.
Jacko and the prince have a deal for a record label, 2 Seas, that’s yet to happen, and an album Jackson has not actually worked on.
Jackson’s PR woman, Raymone Bain, and his children’s nanny, Grace Rwaramba, are now his general managers. Many lawyers are suing him for unpaid fees.
When he’s not in Bahrain, Jackson divides his time between Ireland and England, where he stays at one of two hotels. He may be underwriting some of this from money he received in a financial restructuring in June, and my sources say he’s got a $1 million a month drawing allowance on about $12 million total. Otherwise, the Prince is his backer.
In America, Jackson faces several legal actions, including a lawsuit for $48 million that’s proceeding in New York.
In California, he owes Marc Schaffel about $1 million from a recent legal judgment. And there’s an ongoing custody-monetary battle with ex-wife Debbie Rowe.
At the same time, Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is abandoned, but has a $25 million lien against it. His parents’ home, which he also owns, is secured by a $2.2 million mortgage. Jackson regularly misses payments on it, and the house has been in and out of foreclosure.