It was a mixed bag Wednesday night for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. They came to the red carpet for "Mad Money," Holmes’ first film release since their marriage.
In the lobby of the Mann Westwood Village theater, Cruise graciously shook hands with yours truly and Holmes and I shared a reluctant hug.
But that was it. The couple left as the Callie Khouri-directed feature unspooled and they weren’t seen again.
Even though co-stars Diane Keaton, Ted Danson and Queen Latifah made it to the lavish Overture Pictures premiere party at UCLA Westwood’s Royce Hall, the Cruises were a decided no-show. Tom’s cousin, actor William Mapother, made it to both events but didn’t know what had happened to his hosts.
The "Mad Money" event was otherwise jam-packed, with Mary J. Blige, Rosanna Arquette, T-Bone Burnett, Tate Donovan, Bud Cort, Arianna Huffington, producer Lawrence Bender and loads of Hollywood heavyweights (such as Kevin Huvane) eager to see this pleasantly funny if not completely plausible comedy make its debut.
Luckily, I’m told Overture’s financial exposure on "Mad Money" is only $6 million, so they’ll make that back. The company, overseen by Chris McGurk and Danny Rosett, has a number of more anticipated releases on the way, including "The Visitor" directed by Tom McCarthy ("The Station Agent").
"Mad Money," by the way, does feature a reference to crazy ol’ Jim Cramer’s "Mad Money" cable financial show. It’s a sly moment, and one of the few as the three ladies — Keaton, Latifah and Holmes — along with husbands and boyfriends decide to steal from the Federal Reserve over a three-year period.
Where some heist movies like this might show characters’ motivations as paying for a child or an elderly relative’s illness or surgery, or justifiable revenge for some terrible act — a la "9 to 5," the movie that inspires this — we are simply lost. "Mad Money" is just a movie about greedy people who can’t stop themselves from stealing. It’s hard to feel sorry for them or to identify with anyone.
Thankfully, "Mad Money" has Keaton carrying the bulk of the story. Khouri surely knew that Keaton can do no wrong, and can explain any strange behavior. Latifah is like a movie’s Rosetta Stone — she’s the voice of reason when things go awry. You don’t mind watching them for 90 minutes.
Holmes is a different story. Before Cruise, she was on a good career path with "Pieces of April" and a few other little movies after "Dawson’s Creek." Her role in "Batman Begins" could have launched her into a whole new realm. "Mad Money" is an odd choice. Her part is small and pedestrian. Holmes seems like she’s in a frenzy throughout the movie, unable to locate or center this intangible character.
Cruise and Holmes may have skipped the screening and the party because they knew the movie was a dud. Then again, there’s this new book about Cruise, the announcement of Nicole Kidman’s pregnancy and a revelation of Will Smith being even more involved in Scientology.
Interestingly, not one of Katie’s new "best friends" came to support her at "Mad Money." There were no Beckhams, no J-Lo or Marc Anthony, no Leah Remini, Will or Jada, Travolta, et al. It was as if the word was out to keep all of the Cruise cabal away for the night.
They might have been right to stay away. While "Mad Money" is perfectly nice, it’s also totally incomprehensible. It starts with a flash forward that makes it seem like you’re already in the middle of the film. That’s only one of several plot contrivances that don’t make sense.
A short way in, the many characters who are held for questioning by the police for grand larceny are interviewed MTV-style about their adventure — which we still haven’t seen. It’s a mess.
Javier Bardem, winner of many awards now for his performance in "No Country for Old Men," accepted more kudos from Michael Douglas on Wednesday at lunch in Beverly Hills at the Grill on the Alley. ...
Rosanna Arquette looked swell at the "Mad Money" premiere. When I asked her about Paul McCartney, though, she smiled and said, "No comment." …
Warner M. Group (the "M" is for Mistake) finished the day Wednesday at $4.75, off a low of $4.57. It could go under $4 before the end of the week. A year ago, WMG traded at $23. There’s nothing left, really, just Warner Chappell Music Publishing, some of the Rhino Atlantic catalog (including the hot soundtrack CD to "Juno") and Josh Groban. We seem to be minutes away from a takeover staged by someone — Carl Icahn? Time Warner? Microsoft? Amazon? Steve Ross must be spinning in his grave. …
There’s talk around town that NBC Universal and the ridiculous Hollywood Foreign Press Association are still planning some kind of party for Sunday night's Golden Globes, perhaps at Spago. All other Globe parties have been called off. Surely, though, this is not happening. What are these people thinking? If this one’s a "go," at least the WGA picketers will have something to do.