Oprah, Cruise, But No 'Valkyrie'

Oprah, Cruise, But No 'Valkyrie' | 'War Room' Transcript: The Real Words | Sting Battles Cough, Wins | Madonna Nightmare On Film

Oprah, Cruise, But No 'Valkyrie'

Oprah Winfrey’s hourlong special on Tom Cruise covered a lot of territory in little bits: Scientology, parenthood, "Kate" Holmes. But one word was never heard: "Valkyrie." Call it Tom Cruise’s "Rosebud."

Oprah carefully avoids mentioning anything about Cruise's career at this juncture of his life, especially the $100 million disaster-in-the-making. She also steers clear of his parting ways with Paramount Pictures or what effect Cruise's couch-jumping on her show led to it.

The breezy hour, which broadcast on Friday, touched on a lot of Cruise’s issues of the last three years without delving into them too much. Oprah asks Tom about his actions, but never their consequences. But that may be because in Hollywood, as we've seen again in the Anthony Pellicano trial, there are no consequences.

I give Oprah credit, though: She tried with some persistence to get into the whole Scientology discussion. The look of incredulity on her face is priceless when Cruise comes back with vague, rote answers. Still, Oprah probes just enough to make us wonder if she’s finally getting the point. The whole thing is nuts.

The real question about this show and the one coming on Monday is: Why? How did Oprah, who seems to be drifting this season, get involved in a two-part promo for Tom Cruise? There’s no reason for this; he hasn’t got a movie coming out since "Valkyrie" was moved into 2009.

Of course, there’s a manufactured reason: The 25th anniversary of "Risky Business." But as someone said to me the other day, it’s not exactly "The Godfather" or "Gone with the Wind." If the "Risky Business" anniversary is going to be observed, what’s next: "Mystic Pizza" for Julia Roberts? "Shampoo" for Tom Hanks?

No, this "Risky Business" gimmick is a ploy to try and resuscitate Cruise after a series of calamities including Andrew Morton’s book and the "Valkyrie" situation. For Cruise, it’s a little like waking up to find your house is on fire.

For example: He actually told Oprah that he thinks prescribing psychotropic drugs for children — such as Ritalin — should be a parent’s decision. This is a one-eighty for Cruise, who, like his Scientology brethren, hates psychiatrists and detests treating problems like ADHD or autism. Cruise must have bitten his tongue in half during that exchange.

There will be more on Monday, mostly about "Risky Business" but also with taped testimonials from Cruise’s former co-stars and directors. One person who was not asked to be involved, though, was the actual writer/director of "Risky Business," the talented Paul Brickman.

Somewhere in this contrived tribute, Cruise — who turned 20 during the shoot — has become the movie’s creator.

'War Room' Transcript: The Real Words

Famed husband-and-wife filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus are responding to today’s mini political scandal concerning their film "The War Room."

Nominated for the 1993 Academy Award for best documentary, "The War Room" follows the inside moves of President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign staff.

But today, someone posted a clip from "The War Room" on YouTube with a surprising — and inaccurate — revelation. The poster suggests that Clinton adviser Mickey Kantor made a nasty racial remark and was slagging off the state of Indiana — where now Sen. Hillary Clinton is in a crucial primary race with Sen. Barack Obama.

The Pennebakers tell me that the clip posted on YouTube, with subtitles, is just wrong. It’s not at all what happened or what was said in "The War Room." And certainly, if it had been, someone would have noticed in the last 15 years.

“Someone’s put words in Mickey’s mouth,” says Hegedus. “So now it seems like that’s what he’s saying but he wasn’t. In that sense, the film has been manipulated. You see the words and think that’s what he said.”

Cantor, for his part, was shocked. He’d never seen the film, it turns out. My guess is he has by now.

Indeed, the Pennebakers themselves would have known if Cantor had uttered such words in their film. By coincidence, they’ve been pouring over “War Room” outtakes and film as they prepare a 15th anniversary update for the Sundance Channel this fall.

The Pennebakers — whom I’ve known for a long time and have worked with — gave me a true transcript of the scene in question, which I present here and can be found on their website at phfilms.com.


Indiana we’re ahead.






Kentucky is five. Michigan is eleven, New York’s done.


Holy s—-, we’re pulling away in Ohio.


Oklahoma we’re up.


Tied in Texas.


Tied in Texas. It looks good. Now let’s just say that. I like the text here.


Can you beep Wendy please? Looks pretty good. Looks pretty good.


Look at Indiana. Wait, wait. Look at Indiana. Forty-two, forty. It doesn’t matter if we win. Those people are s—-ing (oh, excuse me) in the White House. How would you like to be… Look at Texas, go down to Texas.




Yeah. Thirty-nine, thirty-nine.


Perot’s kind of holding, isn’t he?


He held.


Yeah, he held. His numbers held. I’m sort of surprised frankly.

Sting Battles Cough, Wins

Like a gold soldier and a true professional, Sting went on stage Thursday night in Ottawa, Canada, and won one for the Gipper.

It was an auspicious premiere for the last leg of the Police’s grand reunion tour, which started in Ottawa and goes back through America and Europe before finishing up in New York on Aug. 3 and 4.

What to do when the lead singer of the world’s most successful rock band (sorry, Stones) has what everyone has had for the last six weeks — the hundred-day cough?

Try herbal teas, hot packs, eucalyptus creams, yoga, meditation. Maybe a cheeseburger would have helped, I don’t know.

Maybe it was Elvis Costello and the Imposters’ rockin’ set at the ScotiaBank arena (formerly the Corel Center) that pumped Sting up. But by the time Costello was pounding through a triumphant reverie of “(What’s So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” the Stingster was up and ready to go.

Of course, he was also wearing a skimpy T-shirt full of holes when I’ll bet a warm sweater would have been preferred.

But there he was, as a new video played behind “Voices in My Head,” and suddenly he, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers launched into the new opening, “Bring on the Night,” that brought cheers. The audience never sat down after that.

The group has made some changes for this last leg, adding “Bring on the Night,” “Demolition Man” and “Hole in My Life” to the set. (My old favorite, “Truth Hits Everyone,” has been dropped!) “Message in a Bottle” has been moved to the middle of the show, a smart idea since it further catalyzes the audience at just the right moment.

The Police show remains one of the most satisfying rock concert experiences I can remember. Three guys produce these amazing sounds. There is no augmentation. They just do it. No one else is playing the same instrument hidden in the background. It’s all very real, even the mistakes, and the audience responds with a roar and waves of “Ee-oh.” It makes you think rock is still alive.

Ottawa is just the beginning of this new wave as The Police head into places they haven’t been for a long time: Buffalo, Columbus, Kansas City. No one will be disappointed. Andy Summers’ guitar work remains intricate, skilled and supple as ever. He and Sting get into some ferocious, stunning jams. Stewart Copeland does stuff with cymbals, bells and baubles, not to mention drums, that cannot be reproduced by mere mortals.

Of course, it’s pretty cool to have Costello as the opening act on this round. Ridding himself of “Alison” as encore (it’s in the middle of the pack), Costello is doing a greatest hits set mixing in a few songs from his new, mostly unattainable album, “Momofoku.” There’s a great one in there called “My Three Songs,” about his older son, Matthew, and twin toddlers Dexter and Frank. It’s lovely. And we also got “Accidents Will Happen,” “Radio Radio,” “Watching the Detectives,” “Pump It Up” and “Everyday I Write the Book,” all beautifully executed.

There are rumors that Sting and Costello will perform together as the tour proceeds —“Shipbuilding” would be nice, from Costello; “Canary in a Coal Mine” from the Police side. I’m just sayin’.

So hopefully everyone will get over their ailments — even Costello sounded like he needed a zinc drop — even though towns like Ottawa and Buffalo are no help. It was cold up there! At least the artists don’t have to fly on Continental from Newark (the only non stop flight to Canada’s capital city) on a small narrow plane that could have doubled as an MRI. What is it with Continental at Newark? At 8 a.m., the security line is pandemonium. Ah, but that’s another story. Someone should call ... the Police!

Madonna Nightmare On Film

Madonna’s promoting her album "Hard Candy" and her ridiculous Africa documentary, but in the meantime, her worst nightmare is coming to film.

After much stalling, stopping and starting, "Unmade Men" has found a producer and director. The film, all about Miami nightclub owner Chris Paciello and how he turned out to be a murderer, will go before cameras this fall.

For several years before he was arrested, tried and convicted, Paciello was a regular member of Madonna’s posse and best friends with her and BFF Ingrid Casares. This was long before Madonna was British, which is why it may confuse younger folks.

Back in the day — specifically the mid '90s — Madonna dated Paciello and hung out with Casares, who also dated Madonna. The trio cut a wide swath through New York, and all the hot nightclubs.

But in 1993, Paciello — who was then still on Staten Island — masterminded a home break-in that resulted in the murder of Judith Shemtov. In 1999, after partying for most of the decade, Paciello was arrested on a racketeering charge of felony murder and bank robbery. It was revealed that he had been associated with the Bonanno crime family. It was like a real-life plot from "The Sopranos"; he was the original "Christofuh."

Paciello pleaded guilty in 2000 and is in the witness protection program.

For a while there was talk that "Stop Loss" director Kimberly Peirce had optioned New York Daily News writer Michelle McPhee’s book, "Mob Over Miami," and was going to make the film. But that fell apart, and there were even rumors — unfounded — that Madonna herself wanted to produce the film.

But now that she’s trying to look upstanding to Malawi adoption officials, Madonna undoubtedly will not be keen on seeing this unfortunate chapter of her life retold on a 70 mm screen. Nevertheless, it’s going to happen.

Fittingly, a director has been secured and will be announced shortly — one with credits from, a ha — "The Sopranos." Casting is set to begin, with a start date of early fall. Still to be decided: who will play the famous trio, and who, in particular, will play Madonna? Whoever it is, seeing all this come back will be a hard candy for the Material Mom to swallow, that’s for sure.

Meanwhile, however Madonna’s short promo show went Wednesday night at Roseland, it obviously wasn’t meant to last long in the public eye for scrutiny. MSN.com, which showed the performance live, had it offline the minute it was done.