Tom Won't Teach After All

Tom Cruise | Capote's 'Blood' | Fantasy Camp | Geezers Rock

Tom Cruise: Hoaxers Get Him, Web Site

Don't believe a word of a press release put on the Internet last night about Tom Cruise conducting Scientology lectures in Los Angeles next month.

Unfortunately, the gossip site took the bait and posted a link to something called

That site reports that Cruise is planning four free lectures at Scientology's Celebrity Centre in October.

The titles of these bogus lectures are: "How Psychiatry Invented Schizophrenia, and What Scientologists Can Do About It," "Handling Sexual Dis-Orientation: Out of the Closet and Into the Auditing Room," "Diagnosis and Treatment of So-Called Clinical Depression with the Hubbard Mark Super VII Quantum Electropsychometer," and "Neuroanatomical Changes Resulting from Chronic Methamphetamine Abuse: Can Narconon's Sauna and Niacin Treatment Program Help?"

Clever, no? If it were only true, the media would have a field day.

But a quick call to Scientology spokesman Greg LeClaire scotched the whole thing. Tom Cruise and You've been "Punk'd."

So what is It's a site where anyone can post a press release and no one checks its veracity.

Ironically, LeClaire told me, "I've posted press releases there myself."

The Cruise release certainly looks real, including giving Cruise's contact as his lawyer. But a proofreading of the copy shows that Bertram Fields' name is spelled wrong: it's missing the first "r."

Knowing the litigious Fields, he's already checking on spelling laws in the United Kingdom.

Cruise, meantime, has no time to give lectures to anyone. He's in the middle of shooting the very expensive "Mission: Impossible 3" in locations all over the world.

Capote's 'Blood': Typed for Oscar

The first Best Picture nominee in the 2005 Oscar race has now been revealed: Bennett Miller's "Capote."

The Sony Pictures Classics release was first shown at the Toronto Film Festival, and has been building buzz ever since.

Last night, it debuted at the more important New York Film Festival, and you could tell before the curtain went up that it was a big deal.

In the audience were Sony's two honchos, Sir Howard Stringer and Rob Wiesenthal. You have to figure that the movie is important to get those guys out to a 9 p.m. screening. Stringer even brought composer Marvin Hamlisch and his beautiful wife Teri as his guests.

When the credits rolled at the end, each of the H's just said: "That's it. That's an Oscar."

Yes, they are correct.

"Capote" is so perfect on all counts that it will head into the Oscar race for Best Picture, Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Best Supporting Actor (Clifton Collins Jr.), Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener), Best Adapted Screenplay (Dan Futterman) and Best Director (Miller). It's that simple.

"Capote" has quite a story, too. Miller and Futterman have known each other since junior high school in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Futterman is an actor known mainly for two things: playing the son in "The Birdcage" and Amy Brenneman's brother on the TV sudser, "Judging Amy." He left the latter a couple of years ago to complete this screenplay.

"I have nothing against that show," he told me last night. "It helped us buy an apartment in New York."

Miller has only one screen credit, for a 1998 documentary called "The Cruise" about a tour bus guide in New York. No one could have predicted these two childhood friends would make such an important, memorable and entertaining movie.

Without a doubt, "Capote" is the "Sideways" of 2005. The pair based their film on two chapters from Gerald Clarke's extraordinary biography, also entitled "Capote."

The film centers solely on Capote's life from 1959 to 1962, while he was researching and writing "In Cold Blood."

It shows Capote as a young best-selling author and writer for The New Yorker at the height of his real literary fame. He's not yet the Studio 54 booze hound/caricature of himself he later became.

The movie also gives a peek into the friendship between Capote and Harper Lee, the woman who wrote and published — at the same time this movie takes place — the classic novel "To Kill a Mockingbird." Lee (real name Nelle Harper Lee) had just finished that book and, while waiting to find out if it sold to a publisher, accompanied Capote as his research assistant.

What's kind of nice about all this is that Hoffman and Keener are like the prom king and queen of the indie-movie set.

He's well-known from "Almost Famous," "Magnolia," "Boogie Nights" and a movie he directed called "Love Liza."

She was in "Being John Malkovich," "Walking and Talking" and "Living in Oblivion."

Together here, they are a revelation.

With excellent supporting roles from Bob Balaban (as The New Yorker's William Shawn), Chris Cooper, Bruce Greenwood, Amy Ryan and Mark Pellegrino, the cast of "Capote" is a cinch for a SAG nomination as Best Ensemble.

The real find of the movie is Clifton Collins Jr., who plays the real-life murderer Perry Smith. It's the usual Hollywood story: He's an overnight sensation at 35.

In the end, though, it's all about Hoffman.

I asked him last night if he had some good anecdotes for Jay Leno and David Letterman, as he will be required to appear on their shows over the next five months leading up to the Oscars.

"I don't!" he laughed.

He'd better find some.

Hoffman is simply superb as Capote, never once falling into imitation or cartoon.

Very much as Robert Morse did in the one-man Broadway show "Tru" more than a decade ago, Hoffman finds the real Capote, a complex man with enormous talent.

He never misses a beat, scene after scene. His work makes you feel like there's a future for movies and acting, after all.

Daltrey Joins Rock Fantasy Camp

David Fishof's annual Rock Fantasy Camp has just snared its most famous counselor yet: the Who's Roger Daltrey.

Daltrey will join the Allman Brothers' Dickey Betts, Mickey Thomas, formerly of Jefferson Starship, Neal Schon of Journey, the entirety of Cheap Trick and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart next February as they instruct high-paying campers in becoming rock-and-roll stars.

The price for the four-day weekend, scheduled Feb. 16-20, 2006, is $8,499.

I don't know if that includes bug juice or panty raids, but it does have its own version of a color war: a battle of the bands at the House of Blues in Los Angeles at the end of the weekend.

Personally, I'm going to audit the class where Daltrey shows you to how lasso a microphone.

Top 40: Geezers Rock

The album charts this week are full of old friends: Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, the Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Earth, Wind & Fire, B.B. King, Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band, the so-called Ray Charles duets CD and a tribute to Luther Vandross.

Right behind them, generation-wise: Mariah Carey, Bon Jovi and Trisha Yearwood.

What does it mean?

If only the remaining record companies would get it into their heads: Music fans want the real thing. How much clearer can it be?

Now, if only radio would come around. Of all those acts, almost none of them can be heard anywhere on the dial.