Paramount says goodbye to Cruise and Wagner

Aug 23, 2006 by Ian Evans

In a move that stunned some in Hollywood, Paramount Pictures has decided t drop its association with Tom Cruise’s Cruise/Wagner Productions. Though some stories worked the angle that Cruise had been “fired”, Paramount was in negotiations with the company and decided to drop them when it seemed a deal was not in the offing.

The real shocker in all of this, in a town that likes to put on a wish-them-well-happy-face, are the comments made by Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone to the Wall Street Journal. Commenting on their 14 year association, Redstone said, “As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal. His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount.” Redstone added that, “We don’t think that someone who effectuates creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot.”

While Cruise’s couch hopping, Brooke bashing and Matt Lauer verbal smackdowns have made for interesting fodder for the gossips, it is interesting that it has made the industry news pages. Cruise’s producing partner, Paula Wagner, told the LA Times that Redstone’s comments were “…graceless. It is undignified. It’s not businesslike.” She also told Daily Variety that Cruise/Wagner films have accounted for 32% of Paramounts theatrical revenue over the last six years.

Cruise and Wagner have already started the “we were leaving anyway” routine, saying that they’ve been working on an independent financing deal. The real twists in this story may occur at Paramount, where it is rumoured that Paramount chair Brad Grey and Viacom CEO Tom Freston are upset by Redstone’s comments as they were preparing the usual “amicable split” press release.