Tom Cruise wasn’t blown out of the Paramount water last summer by Viacom chief Sumner Redtone…well, he was, but the decision to evict apparently originated with kvetching from Sumner’s wife, Paula. That’s one of the semi-intriguing reveals in Bryan Burroughs‘ Redstone profile in the December issue of Vanity Fair:

“Paula, like women everywhere, had come to hate him,” Redstone declares. “The truth of the matter is, I did listen to her, but I make business decisions myself.”
“And in terms of business, Redstone claims he felt Cruise was actually costing Paramount money. Cruise’s production company, which the actor operates along with producing partner Paula Wagner, was paid $10 million a year to create movies for Paramount, and until this year had a sterling track record, led by the first two Mission: Impossible movies, which grossed around $500 million each worldwide. (Overall, Cruise’s films with Paramount have grossed $3 billion worldwide at the box office.)
“It’s the performance of Mission: Impossible III, however, that Redstone seized upon as he and his wife soured on Cruise’s public utterances. The movie did excellent business, earning just under $400 million worldwide, but Redstone felt the actor’s extracurricular behavior prevented it from making more. A Cruise spokesperson declined all comment.
When did I decide [to fire him]?” Redstone asks. “I don’t know. When he was on the Today show? When he was jumping on a couch at Oprah? He changed his handler, you know, to his sister — not a good idea. His behavior was entirely unacceptable to [my wife,] Paula, and to the rest of the world. He didn’t just turn one [woman] off. He turned off all women, and a lot of men… He was embarrassing the studio. And he was costing us a lot of money. We felt he cost us $100, $150 million on Mission: Impossible III. It was the best picture of the three, and it did the worst.”
“The deal with Cruise/Wagner Productions was scheduled to lapse at the end of August. Redstone indicates he decided to cut ties to the company sometime last spring, waiting until the July time frame to notify Tom Freston and Paramount’s C.E.O., Brad Grey. ‘I made my decision without their support; I didn’t tell anyone for months,’ Redstone says. ‘But [eventually] I made my position clear to Tom and Brad, that he should be off the lot. They had some concerns.’
“In fact, Freston and Grey realized that ‘firing’ an actor with Cruise’s visibility and track record, a highly unusual if not unprecedented move, would trigger a severe backlash in Hollywood’s creative community. Still, it was Redstone’s company, and they were his employees.
“‘This wasn’t just Sumner — he had a right to feel the way he did,’ says a person involved in Paramount’s deliberations. ‘I mean, women didn’t go see the movie, because of Tom Cruise’s behavior. It showed up in the research.’ Freston and Grey, this person says, had put a lowball bid on the table to renew the contract — $2.5 million, by all accounts — and everyone involved realized that both sides would probably allow the deal to quietly lapse.
“‘The negotiations had started when Sumner weighed in,’ this person says. ‘Brad had to get rid of the offer, which is a hard thing to do. They were working toward that. They understood where Sumner was coming from. They really did. They were trying to pull [the offer] back, and when they were trying to do that, Sumner went public. That’s when everything hit the fan.'”

  • Dan Revill

    DePalma’s was the best.
    Abrams’ second.
    And the Woo…well…mission destructible that one.
    Anyhow, it’s nice to know Sumner respects his wife’s opinion in such matters. I don’t think Cruise’s behaviour killed M:I-3…it certainly didn’t kill War of the Worlds last summer.

  • zoey

    Funny. A few posts ago, the “pornography of self-exposure vs. modesty and reticence” was mentioned in relation to The Queen and Flags of Our Fathers (with both films being offered as examples of the latter).
    Perhaps Redstone’s treatment of Cruise could be offered as an example of the former.

  • D.Z.

    The Woo film’s the one which no one liked, even though it actually had to do with the show and the genre in general.

  • MattyC

    Aladdin Sane:
    regarding War of the Worlds, there were a lot of people online (this site, for instance) who speculated that WOTW could have made closer to $300mil domestic, were it not for Cruise’s odd behavior that summer.
    I know, I know, it probably did half a billion worldwide or something, but still, it’s Cruise and Spielberg, with a balls-to-the-wall sci-fi actioner and a recognizable name. The studio was thinking ID4 numbers, not Bad Boys II.
    That said, the fact that the movie derails in the last 20 minutes didn’t help matters.

  • milestogo

    Tom Cruise ends the commentary on MI3 by saying, “Thank you Paramount”. Priceless.


    I’m not sure why this old fart has to keep kicking Cruise when he’s down, especially since Cruise seems to be taking the high road.
    It should be interesting to see how things play out for Cruise from this point on. Big-time filmmakers are still clamoring to work with him, that’s for sure.

  • nemo

    “Pornography of self-exposure?”
    Don’t see how that applies to Redstone’s treatment of Cruise. But it definitely applies to Cruise’s every public appearance and public statement for many, many years now.

  • Dixon Steele

    In 5 years, Redstone will probably be six feet under and Cruise will still be cruising. And that’s all that matters.
    As the Vanity Fair article states, Redstone is afraid of dying and he’s desparate to leave his mark.
    The old guy lives in fear that his stock price will drop and that’s why he fired a trusted 20 year lieutenant like Freston, but I’d bet anything it was his reluctance to pay the big bucks that made Viacom lose MySpace.
    It’s may be good to be the King, Sumner, so enjoy it now…cause the sun is setting and it’s setting on you, and no amount of millions can change that.

  • Aladdin Sane

    DePalma’s was the best.
    Abrams’ second.

    And the Woo…well…mission destructible that one.

    Anyhow, it’s nice to know Sumner respects his wife’s opinion in such matters. I don’t think Cruise’s behaviour killed M:I-3…it certainly didn’t kill War of the Worlds last summer.

  • Dave Polands Gut

    why does this old codger continue to take shots at an actor? Who doesnt even work at the studio anymore and did nothing except express his personal views? Cruise didnt kill anyone. Beat anyone. Touch kids. He just proclaimed his love for a hot 26 yr old and told the world he believes his religion.

  • Krazy Eyes

    I actually though MI:3 was the best of the bunch. I agree that Sumner is a crotchety old coot but he might have a point about woman & Tom Cruise. My wife used to be a huge Cruise fan but I needed to really coerce her into agreeing to see MI:3. Then again, it might have been MI:2s fault.

  • grener