Wednesday 21 February 2018

Orla Healy: At least Cruise doesn't insist on salutes for dogs


Tom Cruise may not be the total dingbat the anti- Scientology crowd keep trying to make him out to be. In an expose on the controversial religion (Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief) due out next month, Pulitzer-prize winning author Lawrence Wright describes how Cruise used his celebrity currency to lobby then-president Bill Clinton about persuading British prime minister Tony Blair to declare the Church of Scientology a tax-deductible charitable organisation..

Cruise also reportedly managed to swing face-time with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby to discuss the church's treatment in Germany

But it's an exchange between Cruise and Scientology leader David Miscavige that may show the pint-sized actor has a healthy grasp on the foibles of US political system. "Bush may be an idiot," Miscavige observed according to Wright, "but I wouldn't mind his being our Constantine." Cruise, Wright reports, agreed. "If f***ing Arnold [Schwarzenegger] can be governor, I could be president."

Difficult to argue that point.

Miscavige, rather than Cruise, appears to be the book's real target. He is portrayed as a control freak who insists on having his light bulbs polished once a month – and is alleged to have been the force behind the break-up of Cruise's 10-year-marriage to Nicole Kidman. Although Miscavige lavished attention on the couple as newly weds, creating a "completely deferential environment as spotless and odourless as a fairytale" (complete with realising their fantasy of running through a field of wildflowers together) the book claim that by the mid-Nineties, he "viewed her as a gold digger who was faking Scientology . . . Miscavige was hopeful that if they portrayed Nicole Kidman as a Suppressive Person, Cruise could be peeled away from her".

Wright also manages to ruin the only nice thing he has to say about Miscavige, a man whose devotion to his five beagles comes across as a tad extreme. "He had blue vests made up for each of them, with four stripes on the shoulder epaulettes, indicating the rank of Sea Org Captain," according to the book which could be cute except for the sinister allegation that he "insists people salute the dogs as they parade by". The fact "the dogs have a treadmill where they work out" just compounds the buzz-kill.

Katie regrets day in court

Tom's ex, Katie Holmes, continues what appears to be a relentless campaign to become Manhattan's most over-achieving 33-year-old. In the six months she has been living in the borough, Holmes has set up home, launched a clothing line and headlined a Broadway show – neatly balancing her professional achievements with the equally daunting task of introducing six-year-old daughter Suri to a brave new world that involves "normal" things such as riding the subway and going to school.

Now it looks as if Katie is putting quality time into building new relationships – a process that might require her to dial back those high intensity levels.

On Wednesday, Katie trudged all the way out to a Queens courtroom to watch new pal Leigh Bishop make her opening arguments as prosecutor in a big murder case. While the effort was noble, the spectacle of the Hollywood actress sitting in the public seats of a courtroom where one of NYC's most harrowing cases was unfolding (Li Hangbin stands accused of second-degree murder after allegedly shaking his two-month-old daughter to death) proved too much for everyone, from the judge who couldn't understand why the reporters were so giddy, to the lawyers who were irked by the distraction.

A deeply embarrassed Holmes quickly realised her mistake and bolted.

Hopefully her Manhattan chick clique will have by now explained that support is less stressfully expressed with a fruit basket or flowers.

Daniel kept Abe waiting

Daniel Day-Lewis didn't get to where he is today by acting skills alone. On Monday night, before he presented this award season's most nominated star with the New York Film Critics Circle award for best actor, director Steven Spielberg read out a letter he had received from DDL turning down his request to play Lincoln.

"Dear Steven," it began. "It was a real pleasure just to sit and talk with you. I listened very carefully to what you had to say about this compelling history, and I've since read the script and found it in all the detail in which it describes these monumental events and in the compassionate portraits of all the principal characters, both powerful and moving. I can't account for how at any given moment I feel the need to explore one life as opposed to another, but I do know that I can only do this work if I feel almost as if there is no choice; that a subject coincides inexplicably with a very personal need and a very specific moment in time. In this case, as fascinated as I was by Abe, it was the fascination of a grateful spectator who longed to see a story told, rather than that of a participant. That's how I feel now in spite of myself, and though I can't be sure that this won't change, I couldn't dream of encouraging you to keep it open on a mere possibility. I do hope this makes sense Steven, I'm glad you're making the film, I wish you the strength for it, and I send both my very best wishes and my sincere gratitude to you for having considered me."

The rejection letter wasn't the only missive Spielberg, who eventually recruited Tony Kushner to rewrite the Lincoln screenplay to appeal to DDL, received from his leading-man. Somewhere he has stashed a tape recorder chock full of pointers from the actor delivered in the voice of Lincoln. Co-star Sally Field says she plans to keep the text messages DDL sent her with suggestions written, naturally, in the voice of Lincoln. The film, which led the Oscar nominations with 12 nods, is expected to sweep the award show circuit that starts with tonight's Golden Globes.

Golden Globes no sober affair

Tina Fay and Amy Poehler seem determined to make sure everyone watching tonight's award show gets hammered. Fast. The 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation stars, who might be feeling the pressure of taking over as hosts after three explosive years of Ricky Gervais, submitted guidelines for their version of a 2013 Golden Globes Drinking Game to the Hollywood Reporter. Follow at your own peril.

1.Drink any time an actress cries in a speech.

2.Drink any time you see a person actively not listening to someone onstage.

3. Drink any time someone says: "I didn't prepare anything!"

4. Eat a meatball sub any time someone thanks Harvey Weinstein.

5. Take off an article of clothing any time they show Judi Dench.

6. Take off an article of clothing any time Maggie Smith wins.

Sunday Independent

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