Just to be clear, our insider is not hating on Tom Cruise. He found the star to be unfailingly courteous. "Everything has to be approved by him, but he doesn't hang things up," he says. "He's a control freak, but professional." But our source hears that Cruise wants to create some space before this film is released to help himself and the studio he's supposed to be reviving, United Artists. In that space, he wants to lighten up, perhaps get another project going, possibly something with Ben Stiller. Something like Hardy Men, a project at Fox about the detective brothers all grown up.
What seems clear is that Cruise has begun to appreciate the magnitude of career damage that he has inflicted upon himself, though he may not completely grasp the cause.
Cruise has already taken a step in the lighten-up direction with that cameo so obligingly reported in the New York Times last week. In the upcoming Stiller film Tropic Thunder, Cruise does a turn as a studio mogul, supposedly based on the old man who fired him, Sumner Redstone. By all accounts, the performance, though brief, is funny. By some accounts, the Cruise camp is claiming this will be a game changer for him. That strikes a leading agent, not associated with the film, as "the hype machine" at work. Only in Hollywood would people believe that a brief inside joke in a film (one that is supposedly funny at moments but doesn't quite gel) could wipe away all the ink that's been spilled on Cruise.
Certainly, Stiller has a hit coming next May in Night at the Museum 2. We hear there may be another Cruise cameo in that film (imagine—Cruise, part of Stiller's comic gang!), though Fox denies that. Meanwhile, our Valkyrie source tells us about a bit of humor on the set. It seems some folks displayed posters of old Cruise movies—Cocktail and so on—and decorated the star's face with eye patches. Apparently that bit of lightening up was not appreciated. (link)
April 2, 2008
Yee-haw: NBC promised year-round fun at its "in-fronts," held Wednesday afternoon. The network doesn't have many new hits to tout, so it's trying to lure advertisers with an ambitious plan: original shows 12 months a year. And instead of waiting until May to present its plans at the upfronts, NBC is tossing a lot at the wall right now.
Here's a little dish on the fates of what may be your favorite shows:
The Office will be paired with a spinoff, but NBC is not telling anything about it—except that it's supposed to launch after the Super Bowl. Interest in the original show is such that "all our Office scripts are watermarked," Ben Silverman, the co-chairman of NBC, said. "We're only going to bring [the spinoff] to market if it's ready for market and up to the quality of the original." He also noted that unlike competitors' comedies, NBC's are funny. "I've watched the other shows on other networks. I've never laughed," he said.
Chuck will be back on Monday nights. Life will hang in there by a strand on Friday nights. Friday Night Lights will be back in February—though the show struggles in the ratings, it has a passionate following. NBC is keeping it by agreeing to air the series after it runs via DirecTV.
NBC will also schedule series that have previously aired in Canada or on the BBC. Why not? It's worth a try.