Tom Cruise's Xmas Gift: Hitler | Edwards' Lover Sold Out by Sister | Warner Music Chief Cashed Out | Downey’s Moustache; Billy Joel’s Tchotchkes
Tom Cruise's Xmas Gift: Hitler
Better than Valentine’s Day, Christmas is the holiday for which Tom Cruise will gift us with Hitler.
It warms the cockles of hearts everywhere.
Late Wednesday night, United Artists — where Tom has been a partner with Paula Wagner — announced it was moving his "Valkyrie" movie back from February 2009 to Dec. 26, 2008. According to Variety, "The studio sees it as a holiday pic and award consideration was not a factor."
That’s an understatement.
A $110 million movie about the failed assassination of Hitler by Jerry Maguire is going to go up against Oscar heavyweight "Revolutionary Road" with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, not to mention lighter fare such as "Marley and Me" with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston; Adam Sandler, Courtney Cox and Keri Russell in "Bedtime Stories"; and the comic book super hero epic "The Spirit."
But what can Cruise and MGM-UA do? "Valkyrie" already is incredibly expensive. If the studio waits till February, observes one insider, the film might be cut out of MGM’s deal with Showtime. That pact is said to end on Dec. 31. Then MGM moves its cable releases to the new Paramount-Lions Gate channel, still not established.
"Valkyrie" already is setting records long before its release; it’s the first movie to destroy a studio before it comes out. "Heaven’s Gate," after all, took down the regime at United Artists in 1981 after critics saw it.
But UA is unspooling now as you read this. Cruise’s longtime partner Wagner was thrown under the stalag Wednesday as punishment for not making any movies other than "Valkyrie" and the dud "Lions for Lambs" with the $500 million credit line supplied by Merrill Lynch. Another exec also left, which essentially leaves Cruise and Paramount holdover Donald Granger.
I am told that Wagner may not know this, but Tom is said to have been meeting with producers for the last few weeks without her. His companion in these meetings was CAA powerhouse agent Kevin Huvane. If that’s true, and sources swear it is, then Wagner was dead before the ambulance arrived.
It’s hard to imagine Paula Wagner without Tom Cruise. A great woman, for years she’s had to endure questions from "regular" people about Scientology and Cruise’s whole PR mishegos, wives, children, divorces, etc. Through it all, she never wavered.
What happens next at MGM-UA should be interesting. The conventional wisdom is that MGM’s Harry Sloan, who just signed his own new deal to keep running the studio, wants to get that $500 million for MGM. In fact, because "Valkyrie" cost so much, I’m told Sloan already is paying for some of it out of MGM money.
It’s hard to believe that the No. 1 box office star in America has taken such a nosedive over the last three years.
But it all began with "War of the Worlds" in June 2005, Tom jumping on couches and casting Katie Holmes as his wife and mother of his child.
Then came the "Mission Impossible" release in 2006, followed by Sumner Redstone’s denunciation of Cruise. The star and Wagner bought into MGM’s languishing United Artists with a $500 million credit line from Merrill Lynch.
"Lions for Lambs" came next, in 2007. A source tells me that movie might break even "in 500 years."
But the killer in this story is "Valkyrie." The Hitler assassination plot film already is up around $110 million. With another $50 to $60 soon to be wasted on prints and promotion, "Valkyrie" is shaping up as a huge disaster. And thanks largely to Wagner, Cruise has no other movies in the can for 2009.
Edwards’ Lover Sold Out By Sister
Rielle Hunter — aka Lisa Druck and John Edwards’ lover/maybe baby mama — has been sold out by her sister.
As I noted Wednesday, each of Rielle’s sisters recently has given interviews about the affair, etc.
But in the case of Melissa Druck, Rielle and that sibling remain close.
Sources tell me, however, that Rielle has not spoken to Roxanne Druck Marshall in 15 years.
Sources insist that Roxanne has received at least $25,000 from our old pay-for-scoops pals at "Entertainment Tonight" to rat out her sis even though they haven’t spoken at all and Roxanne has seen no pictures of baby Francis other than what was in the National Enquirer.
Of course, the other side of this coin is that Roxanne, according to other insiders, was the main source for the National Enquirer stories, too. That means more pay days.
Somehow, Roxanne may have helped set up Rielle and Edwards for the National Enquirer to surreptitiously film them in a room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Certainly, Enquirer reporters were in the hotel with the knowledge that Edwards and Hunter were there and knew where they were going to corner Edwards after their meeting.
Hollywood investigator Paul Barresi, who once worked for Anthony Pellicano, knows all about this sort of thing when it comes to the tabloids. He notes that the Edwards-Hunter stories carry the byline of Enquirer veteran Alan Butterfield, a man gifted at arranging such set-ups. Barresi has tape-recorded conversations from late tabloid reporter Jim Mitteager with Pellicano from 1994 in which the pair discuss Butterfield’s success with such subterfuges.
Even more interesting, Barresi has Mitteager’s 1992 tapes in which the latter chats with tabloid reporter David Shoemacher about "running gags" on actor Michael Douglas in hotels, pretending to be an employee and getting information on Douglas and then-wife Diandra, similar to what happened to Hunter at the Beverly Hilton. Barresi says he is working with federal authorities so they can understand how the tabloids work and gather "news."
Warner Music Chief Cashed Out
Citibank has Warner M. Group as a sell, and the company reported a $9 million loss last quarter. But that didn't stop label chief Lyor Cohen from cashing out two days ago. According to filings, Cohen sold 800,000 shares of stock at $8.45 for a realized value of $6,759,999.
Funny thing: On Aug. 11, the stock closed at $8.25. During the day it had reached a high of $8.68 and a low of $8.08. On Wednesday WMG closed at $7.29. Cohen sure was lucky to have sold at that magic moment on Tuesday when the price was pretty much higher than it's been for most of the year. Thanks to the Yahoo! interactive chart, we know this occurred between 11:50 a.m. and noon. If only he had that luck with releasing records.
Cohen's last WMG stock transaction was a purchase, of 1.75 million shares, at a low price of $5.29. That cost him $9,257.500.
Warner has exactly one — that is, 1 or ONE — album CD in the top 20, by Kid Rock.
Downey’s Moustache; Billy Joel’s Tchotchkes
Robert Downey Jr. is sporting a big black mustache. Why?
At the Waverly Inn Wednesday night, having a celebratory dinner with Ben Stiller and Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor, for "Tropic Thunder," Downey explained: "It’s the beginning of my beard and mustache for 'Sherlock Holmes.'"
I like Robert so much I couldn’t bear to tell him that "Sherlock" director Guy Ritchie is having trouble with his almost-released "RockNRolla" feature. There were reports Wednesday that Warner Bros. has told Ritchie and producer Joel Silver to find a new distributor; it doesn't want the film.
But Downey as Sir Holmes? It seems like a cinch, doesn’t it? And what a year he’s had, with "Iron Man" already making him a huge success again. Do not miss him as Russell Crowe/Ivan Dixon in Stiller’s very witty "Tropic Thunder." Along with everyone else, he’s a hoot. …
There may be some debate over how to spell "tchotchkes." They are what Billy Joel brought with him to the press conference Wednesday announcing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex in Soho. "I was going to bring a jersey with me to donate," Billy told New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Clive Davis, Terry Stewart (director of the Cleveland museum), Matthew Modine (who watched from the sidelines), wife, Katie Lee, and various city officials. "But it’s traveling in a case, so I went through my house this morning looking for tchotchkes and taking things off the wall." He settled on a signed baseball bat and a framed poster. The jersey will come later.
The ceremony/press conference took place on Mercer Street, in the street, right between two newly renovated buildings across the street from each other. Neither turned out to be the building that will house the Annex. That was revealed as the most rundown cast-iron former factory warehouse I’ve ever seen; really, the Triangle Factory Fire could have taken place there. They say it will be renovated in time for an opening in September or October.
I had to laugh, when you think of how lavishly Jann Wenner lives, what his fancy office is like, and how much money the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation has in its coffers. Those behind it claim $14 million in assets. Last year, they donated $475 to the TJ Martell Foundation — the price of tickets to the Martell dinner, $500 to City of Hope Hospital in California and $25,000 to New York’s Fund for Public Schools, so Wenner can be associated with Caroline Kennedy.
Wenner, it should be noted, was not in attendance but newish director, Joel Peresman, was. In his speech, Peresman invoked Ahmet Ertegun’s name, calling him "my friend." It was priceless.
Last year Peresman earned $331,329 to essentially help pick the year’s inductees and put on the annual dinner at the Waldorf Astoria. Also last year, the Foundation claimed to have donated $4,183 to help indigent musicians.