Viacom’s Sumner Redstone issues a memo announcing the studio has severed their relationship with Tom Cruise:
“As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal,” Mr. Redstone said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount.”
Paula Wagner, Cruise’s producing partner responded that it has been “a dream of Tom and mine” to set up an independent company apart from the studio system and that’s the real reason for the split:
“They said that Mr. Cruise’s production company had decided to set up an independent operation financed by two top hedge funds, which they declined to name. Paula Wagner, Mr. Cruise’s partner in the company, said such an arrangement represented a new business model for top actors prominent enough to take advantage of the flood of money coming into Hollywood from Wall Street.”
In the end, who will really suffer here? Deadline Hollywood’s Nikke Finke sees hypocrisy in Redstone’s reasons for the firing (“My god, Sumner himself was openly shtupping one of his producer girlfriends on the lot for years, and his own son is suing him. And Redstone looked the other way when Les Moonves carried on a long adulterous affair with employee Julie Chen and then married her after dumping his wife in the process.”).
She asks, who’s crazier, Viacom or Tom Cruise?
“C’mon, fire the grinning actor idiot because he’s lost his box office appeal, or because his first dollar gross is so exorbitant that no studio has a prayer any more of making money on his motion pictures, or because of any other business reason. And fire him in the usual Hollywood way: with a bland-but-dignified press release about how much these 14 years have meant to both parties, ad nauseum. But, jeez, don’t fire him with this lame stuff that Sumner didn’t like the way Tiny Tom behaved. If that’s true, then no Hollywood studio can ever hire anyone. Drugs, sex, harrassment, mendacity, fraud: Paramount like most major studios has a rich history of horrible behavior by its work-for-hires. I could reel off for you 10 people now with rich studio deals, some at Paramount, who should be in jail or rehab or the Funny Farm but instead are well-paid miscreants.”
So Redstone’s move is really the corporate equivalent of squirting a water gun in the star’s face. Is publicly shaming one of the most litigious nuts in the movie business really a smart business move? Of course Cruise has been astonishingly weird. But in the end, Redstone’s memo does seem like one of those vindictive emails that get fired off at 3 in the morning after a long night of partying, only to be regretted the next day.