Published November 20, 2006
Opera singer Andrea Bocelli sang at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' crazy wedding as a "gift," but he refused to sing "Ave Maria" during the ceremony.
The reason: Bocelli, a Catholic, didn’t want to disrespect the Roman Catholic Church.
That makes him the only Catholic who actually took a stand as Cruise, who was born Catholic, orchestrated a non-Catholic Church sanctioned wedding right in the Vatican’s backyard.
Not even Holmes’ poor parents, whose other three daughters were married in the faith, could put a stop to the proceedings.
The question now is, what does the future hold for Cruise? The New York Post called him a "nut" on its front page Sunday. "Saturday Night Live" mocked him in its update section for having space aliens at the reception. He has no idea that he’s the object of worldwide ridicule for this ludicrous pageant. Cruise is clueless. In a way, he’s become the new Michael Jackson.
It didn’t help that if the wedding guests weren’t members of Scientology (John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Leah Remini, Jenna Elfman, etc.) they were otherwise people to whom Cruise is more or less a stranger: Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Richard Gere, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith and Bruce Willis .
Each and every one of them was there because they were connected to Cruise through his publicist or talent agent.
Of course, new best pal Brooke Shields, who was so offended by Cruise 18 months ago, was there (just wait 'til we hear about Brooke or producer-husband Chris Henchy doing a deal with United Artists).
You might ask: Where were the people who used to be billed by publicists back in the day as the Cruise pals? That list included Jamie Foxx, Cuba Gooding Jr., Paul Newman, Steven Spielberg and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Indeed, they were not present, although "Jerry Maguire" director Cameron Crowe and "Mission: Impossible 3" helmer J.J. Abrams happily showed up.
Cruise’s best man, according to wire reports, was Scientology chief David Miscavige. Also close by Cruise’s side: Tom Davis, the son of actress Anne Archer, a kind of a second-in-command to Miscavige and Cruise’s steady companion.
And while Katie’s sister, Nancy, was listed as the maid of honor, Holmes’ more recent best friend, Jessica Feshbach Rodriguez — daughter of Scientology’s first family and Katie’s "minder" since she joined Cruise’s camp in April 2005 — was front and center.
Not there: Any of Katie’s friends with the exception of a couple of super-secret loyalists. But no costars from any TV shows or films were invited, including the cast of "Dawson’s Creek."
Not invited: Jack South, who for 20 years has been the husband of Cruise’s mother, Mary Lee Mapother. He was still at home in Florida late last week watching football on TV and insisting to me during a very nice phone call that his wife had not left him forever.
I reported in this space a few weeks ago that Cruise’s mother had headed to Cruise’s Beverly Hills mansion in April when baby Suri was born.
Mapother had for years been a Eucharistic minister at the Roman Catholic Church in San Marco Island, Fla., but apparently she too has joined Scientology, along with Cruise’s sisters. Two of the sisters homeschool Cruise’s adopted children with Nicole Kidman, Connor and Isabella, in Scientology.
In the end, the wedding may be a fitting final chapter in Cruise’s career, a blissful blaze-out. He seems to have no idea that in America, at least, there are no fans left to take him seriously.
It will be all but impossible now for a new generation of film fans to see past his erratic public behavior, the Oprah couch shenanigans, the decrying of psychiatry and now the rejection of Catholicism for a religion invented by a science-fiction writer. Luckily, he has lots and lots of money.
A bunch of lively penguins beat a newly buff James Bond this weekend. This is bad news for Daniel Craig and good news for former Bond Pierce Brosnan. That's because "Casino Royale" took in about $7 million less than Brosnan's last Bond feature.
"Die Another Day" had a $47 million opening weekend in 2002. And "Casino Royale" only did $5 million better than Brosnan's 1999 Bond outing, "The World Is Not Enough."
In fact, the world may not be enough for "Casino Royale." In the end, the over-hyped action adventure flick may prove to be less of a blockbuster than Sony and MGM were counting on.
This isn’t to say that "Casino Royale" with Craig as 007 isn’t a hit. With some $40 million in the bank domestically and solid numbers in the United Kingdom, the remake of the 1967 Bond-parody film into a serious action flick may wind up being the biggest success in the series in years.
But it’s a little disconcerting that dancing penguins could best the international spy on its opening weekend. According to the figures, "Casino Royale" finished with $40,600,000. "Happy Feet," the Warner Bros. musical cartoon, took in $42,320,000.
Of course, "Happy Feet" has something Bond doesn’t: the most unusual soundtrack of the year. It features singing performances by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy and a reworking of Stevie Wonder’s "I Wish" by Patti LaBelle and Fantasia .
There’s also a new song by Prince, ironic since he spent years claiming to be a slave of Warner Music Group.
I’ve been listening to the Beatles’ soundtrack to their Cirque du Soleil project, called "Love," all weekend and loving it.
Of course, there’s no mention of Cirque du Soleil anywhere on the package or the word soundtrack. That’s because this highly inventive, exciting reworking of the Beatles’ songs isn’t exactly what you hear at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas when you see the extraordinary Cirque du Soleil show. I guess the full rendering is only available at the show or one day on the DVD.
Nevertheless, the CD should really be called "George Martin Presents the Beatles in ‘Love.’" because Martin — who produced just about everything the Beatles ever recorded — is the mastermind here with his son, Giles .
They’ve taken every bit of existing recorded Beatles material and twisted it — I believe "mashed up" is the new term — into a completely new presentation that every fan will need to have in their collections.
Only a Luddite or a publicity hound could object to this new package (I’ve seen one negative quote so far on the AP wire from a cheesy Beatle biographer trying to cash in on the release). But otherwise, "Love" should only be met with grand applause.
It kills several birds with one stone, including re-rendering the Beatles’ music in a way that should be appreciated by a new generation of listeners that likes its music sampled and swirled like a Ben and Jerry’s mix-in.
At the same time, after 36 years of no new releases, it’s nice to hear the Beatles’ classic recordings in a new presentation.
Luckily, this isn’t like the Danger Mouse version of the "White Album," called the "Grey Album," with the music applied to artificial stimulants. This concoction is organic since Martin — the only person in the world authorized to do so — is overseeing the reconstruction.
Some of the songs remain in their intact state, and some are merely tweaked. The majestic "Hey Jude," for example, is shortened to good effect and made into a bit more of a rave up.
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps," however, is totally reborn from an unreleased demo and newly recorded strings which Martin brilliantly added.
Ringo’s "Octopus’s Garden" and "Good Night" are laid on top of each other like a collage, with "Garden" getting a dramatic staging.
There’s a song list (there isn’t one for the Vegas show) but the fun is in listening to the little bits and pieces of music that are woven into the new text.
"Come Together" contains bits of "Dear Prudence," which is noted. But you’ll have to think for a minute as a demo of "Strawberry Fields Forever" culminates in the ending of "Hello Goodbye." And those are the horns from the "Sgt. Pepper" main song now propelling "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds."
Martin is also clever adding in little bits of trivia. Since the Beatles were the first group to get fans playing records backward for messages, he reverses "Sun King" from "Abbey Road" and calls it "Gnik Nus" as a transition into "Something."
And the "She Loves You" outro from "All You Need Is Love," which was always an understated extra, now gets major emphasis.
Did I mention the sound? Most of the Beatles CDs were made by Martin in 1987 and never touched again. The "White Album" was re-equalized at one point, and "Yellow Submarine" was remastered for its DVD re-release, but most of it has remained the same … until now.
On "Love," the sound is gorgeous and warm, clearly remastered. And the deluxe package comes with a DVD-Audio disc for home theater enthusiasts. A lot of fans may wind up switching their DVD players into their stereo systems just to hear this version. It’s that good.
The great Ruth Brown has died at the age of 78. Apparently there was the usual tug of war among family members and doctors since Ruth went on life support Oct. 29. What a shame to think of her lying in a bed while embarrassing scenes ensued. She is at peace now, at last.
Atlantic Records — whose 83-year-old cofounder Ahmet Ertegun is also ailing — was once called the House That Ruth Built.
Before Aretha Franklin or Carla Thomas or any number of great R&B ladies came to prominence, Ruth Brown was "it." She gave Atlantic its first and most seminal hits.
If there was a female equivalent to Ray Charles, Ruth was it. Contemporary performers like Beyonce, Fantasia , etc. don’t even know what a debt they owe this remarkable woman.
In the last 20 years, Ruth played an even more important role than singing — though that’s hard to imagine. It was her fight for royalties that led to the formation of the now much hobbled Rhythm and Blues Foundation. For more than a dozen years, it was Ruth’s back pay of about $1.5 million that supplied recognition and aid to fellow R&B artists of her era.
She did not take a penny of the money herself. From time to time the foundation assisted her, and the very wonderful Bonnie Raitt was always her steadfast fan and friend, showing her the respect she deserved.
Recently I got to know Ruth better when she played some shows at Au Bar on East 58th Street in New York. Those shows were unexpected gifts at the end of a long career. You can still download her hits, such as "Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean" or "5-10-15 Hours."
The amazing thing is she performed them at Au Bar with the same gusto as heard on the original tracks. What a pleasure Ruth Brown was. She will be missed.
Ironically, Ertegun continues to be in ill health and hospitalized here in New York. Loved by even those he’s tussled with, Ahmet ran Atlantic with Jerry Wexler during its heyday (Wexler is thriving down in Florida).
Ertegun is a tough bird who can surmount any problem. But we’re sending him lots of good vibes today for a speedy recovery.