Have Tom and Penelope Had too Much Vanilla?

Tom Cruise | Charlotte Gray | Katie Couric | Tommy Crudup 

Have Tom and Penelope Had too Much Vanilla?

It looks suspiciously like the so-called romance between Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz is in its final stages.

Even though the pair has been a little too public about this coupling for months, some keen-eyed observers in the entertainment press considered this relationship one which was manufactured to promote the new movie in which they co-star, Vanilla Sky.

But now Vanilla Sky is upon us, with an opening on Friday, and the reviews are very, very bad. This week both Variety and the Hollywood Reporter eviscerated it.

The latter publication wrote: "Vanilla Sky represents a crushing disappointment. Here everything is miscalculated — tone, style, acting, writing but, most of all, the willingness of any audience to tolerate an elaborate house of mirrors, which sends them crashing into glass every few minutes. The pairing of Cruise and Cruz — Tom and Penelope, of course — along with their subsequent romance will undoubtedly give the opening week's box office a huge boost. But word-of-mouth could be lethal. Paramount should anticipate a drop-off that reflects the film's failure both as art and entertainment."

Cruise, who happens to be one of the most savvy PR minds in the business, is already backpedaling the Cruz romance and reworking his thoughts on divorce. On Monday night's Larry King Live, he seemed cool to questions about marrying Cruz. He did say, though, that he "loved and will always love" Nicole Kidman. Of course, he left Kidman last February and backdated his divorce papers to reduce his settlement. But that was last winter.

Kidman, meantime, is a shoo-in for Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress in both drama (The Others) and musical/comedy (Moulin Rouge). She is almost certainly headed for an Oscar nomination for The Others, which Cruise and partner Paula Wagner produced, and will undoubtedly be the talk of Hollywood this winter. One thing Tom Cruise is not is stupid. If Nicole is looking like a huge winner, Cruise has obviously decided to be supportive in a public way.

Frankly, I think he should run for office. Why waste all this talent on Hollywood?

Oy Vey! It's Charlotte Gray

Sebastian Faulks's novel, Charlotte Gray, about a female spy in World War II, has been a big hit in his native England for some time. Go figure. I've never read the book but I've seen the movie and all I can say is, Oy vey!

Now I see why Gerald Levin suddenly quit as head of AOL Time Warner. He figured he'd go out on a high note with Harry Potter and Ocean's Eleven.

But really, whoever greenlighted this World War II romance saga should be rethinking his or her career in the film business. Charlotte Gray may actually make Vanilla Sky seem like a good movie. It's like Judith Krantz taking on Saving Private Ryan.

And it's not to say that Charlotte Gray doesn't have any merit. Cate Blanchett and Billy Crudup are excellent actors. They certainly don't embarrass themselves as star-crossed lovers caught in Vichy France during the war. In fact, Blanchett may possibly be the best young actress working right now. Her performances in Bandits, The Man Who Cried and The Shipping News are all interesting, textured and invested with wit.

Nevertheless, Charlotte Gray is a World War II movie that's completely silly, perfect for a rainy afternoon and a large tub of popcorn, but not to be taken seriously by any means. It reduces the Nazi cleansing of French Jews to a punchline, and turns war in general into a ping pong game. No one gets hurt, soldiers are anonymous board pieces, and the dialogue, well…for years comedians will get to parody the final line of this movie, which I won't spoil for you here. Suffice to say, it's up there with "I'll breathe for you" from Waterworld and "How do I get to be a postman?" from Kevin Costner's The Postman.

Wasn't Katie’s Pay Already $12 Million?

I told you back on June 8 that the Today Show's Katie Couric was already making $12 million a year under the terms of her last interim contract. Sources said at the time that Couric — who'd renegotiated about 18 months ago for a short term deal — wanted that doubled in order to stay.

Today's New York Post reports that Katie's struck a deal with NBC for a five year deal worth "close to $100 million." You do the math. 24 times 5 equals 120, which is well over 100.

Of course the $24 mil a year would include other shows besides Today, including possibly guest anchoring the evening news, appearing on Dateline and subbing for Deidre Hall on Days of Our Lives.

Just kidding, Katie!

 Rosie Producer Headed For Greener Grass

Tommy Crudup, certainly a popular guy in New York, is giving it all up for Cleveland.

For the last five years Tommy's been a producer and talent booker for Rosie O’Donnell. But last January he met beautiful actress Monica Potter, who's been in Con Air, Patch Adams and Along Came a Spider. But Potter also played the female lead in Without Limits, which starred Tommy's brother Billy (see above). Sparks flew. Tommy's wearing a wedding band although he told me last night that he's still just engaged.

But here's the rub: Potter, who's 30, and has an 11 and 7 year old and lives in her hometown of Cleveland to be near her family when she's not making movies. So come June 30, when Rosie bids the airwaves adieu, Tommy will move out there and join Monica in domestic, wedded bliss.

Congrats, Tommy. It all sounds good, but I'm worried you'll become an Indians fan.