Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Pluto, Cruise, and other galactic downgrades

Pluto was downgraded from planet to tiny ball of ice around the same time Tom Cruise slipped from star to … cosmic dust? As the universe gets reclassified, it’s possible that certain stars will no longer be the center around which all things revolve.
Tom (“You can’t fire me; I quit!”) Cruise has had one public-relations disaster after another, all of them avoidable if he had just understood that his power came from a slick veneer of unknowability. Cruise needed that aura of mystery because, as we can now see, every time he opens his mouth something distressing drops from it. Mel Gibson merely suffers from garden-variety paranoia and anti-Semitism, but Cruise’s brain blips are so weird they’re scaring the customers. (Has he chained Suri to the radiator? Is he really going to refuse to take that baby out to the park until someone pays him more for her photo than they did for Shiloh?)
According to Box Office Mojo, Cruise is Hollywood’s 5th-ranked star (Harrison Ford is No. 1) by total box-office take. A guy like that should be worth a lot of money to a studio, sure. But Carrie Fisher is No. 13. Why? Because she happened to snag a role in what went on to become a powerfully successful franchise. Doesn’t mean she can open a movie today (although I wish she could), and therefore reminds us that “star power” is not a stable, predictable, heavenly body.
Pluto was a planet — of this we were certain — and now it’s not. Tom Cruise was a guaranteed star, and now Paramount has reclassified him as nothing more than dark matter.

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8 Responses to “Pluto, Cruise, and other galactic downgrades”

  1. Ted Johnson says:

    You should check out: http://www.the-numbers.com
    That website has the worldwide figures. Cruise is beating Ford now but Hanks is in the lead.

  2. 555 says:

    I thought Mr Samuel L Jackson recently became El Numero Uno…if I could only remember where I read that…

  3. Jami says:

    In my book, yes, Sam Jackson’s the man!

  4. Cadavra says:

    Between the RINGS trilogy and the three X-MENs, not to mention DA VINCI CODE, you could make a pretty good case right now for Ian McKellen…

  5. Mimi says:

    Jami, you identified the missing ingredient in the Tom universe, which is, simply, mystery. Tom has become so glaring, so transparent, he’s like a neon advertisement promising much, but having little substance behind all the bright, colorful light.
    Poor Pluto… all asteroid dust, and not enough substance to qualify as a planet around which things orbit.
    They deserve each other. We oughta rename the heavenly body, and I don’t mean Mr. Scientology.

  6. Jami says:

    If Ian could just land the role of the next professor of the Dark Arts in Harry Potter, he’d have it made!

  7. Cadavra says:

    Not really. They never survive for a second year. 🙁

  8. Jami says:

    Oh, good point. And Dumbledore is toast, so no more substitutions. Perhaps Ian can be the next Superman if that Brandon fellow’s aftertaste is too bland?

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon