By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
News Corp. insiders tell me the chances of DeWolfe and Anderson getting what they want paywise is “slim to none” — even though MySpace is dominant in the social-networking sphere, attracting almost 80 percent of all U.S. visits. Then again, Friendster was huge until next-generation MySpace came along. I think the duo had better nail down their deal now because, every day, MySpace faces more pressure from the smaller but increasingly popular Facebook.
True, DeWolfe and Anderson keep talking about the “great relationship” they have with the News Corp. bosses. (Some say it’s way better with Murdoch than with Chernin.) But there’s always the chance that News Corp. could decide to jettison the pair and replace them with a CEO suit. But the duo keep warning that putting a bigtime media executive atop the hip young business would kill MySpace.
I’m told Tom Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner are about to announce they’ve finally clinched that $500 million in production financing arranged by Merrill Lynch for their reborn studio, United Artists. Already, UA is showing its first trailer for a movie, choosing to showcase before Fox’s Live Free or Die Hard a teaser for the November political drama Lions for Lambs, which puts Cruise together with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, who also directed. The pic looks at how the war in Afghanistan sets off a sequence of events involving a congressman, a journalist and a college professor. (We’re supposed to believe Tom Terrific as a U.S. Rep.) This is the start of a campaign to raise the profile of UA, which is basically Tom’s giant fuck you to Sumner Redstone, who ousted the actor from his cushy Paramount home.
Both Cruise and Wagner are UA directors and shareholders after arranging with parent company MGM last November to run and revive the dormant studio. At the time I applauded this out-of-the-box thinking: It was a way to grab positive headlines for the tarnished star and provide him with as many film roles as he could handle. A lot of what Cruise and Wagner are doing, like reworking the UA logo or showing journalists a clip reel of classic scenes from UA’s best-known films, still smacks of just PR.
But the pair didn’t count on Germany this past week dumping on Tom by deciding to bar UA’s next pic from filming at Berlin military sites beginning July 19 so long as its star is a Scientologist. The German government has long claimed Scientology is a cult out to make money. Cruise, John Travolta and other celeb members have lobbied the W administration, including Scooter Libby, to pressure Germany to stop its anti-Scientology campaign. The film is Valkyrie, a World War II drama that stars Cruise and is based on the true story of the “July plot” to assassinate Hitler. It also reunites the Usual Suspects team of director Bryan Singer with writers Chris McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander.
But the Germans didn’t care about its bona fides and barred it even though the Defense Ministry had not yet even received official filming requests from UA. It does seem like a crude move by the country, freedom of religion and all that, no matter what you may think of Scientology. Immediately, Paula Wagner responded: “Mr. Cruise’s personal beliefs have absolutely no bearing on the movie’s plot, themes or content.”