Video: Rough ‘bon voyage’ for Cruise

CNBC
updated 8/24/2006 1:33:02 PM ET 2006-08-24T17:33:02

Investors are applauding Paramount’s decision to sever ties with Tom Cruise. But in Hollywood, people are aghast at the way Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone laid off his studio’s highest paid employee. 

Sumner Redstone’s decision not to renew an expensive production deal with Tom Cruise gets high marks on Wall Street, but in Hollywood, shock and awe at the Viacom chairman’s harsh public rebuke of the industry’s biggest star.

“Together Tom Cruise and Paramount were a very formidable business valued at over $3 billion dollars, and they still have a lot of business to do in the future. I mean they still own DVDs and things like that. So, I’m surprised at the aggressiveness with Paramount handled it and I think a lot of people in town are”, said Howard Bragman of 15 Minutes.

Cruise’s agent at Creative Artists Agency says the powerful firm isn’t likely to forget such a humiliating snub of its biggest clients. A war with CAA is the latest thing Paramount Studio Chief Brad Grey needs right now, as he struggles to reverse the studio’s poor performance.

“The company has not been able to prove thus far in a Bray Grey-led Paramount that it can execute in the theatrical release business”, said David Miller of Sanders Morris Harris.

It’s not the first time Redstone has angrily jettisoned a prominent employee. He forced out Viacom Chief Operating Officer Mel Karmazin last year in an equally bitter severance.

“When you’re worth billions of dollars and you’ve been around more than 80 years at some point you just get tired of holding back and want to say whatever you want to say”, said Forbes’ Dennis Kneale.

Sumner Redstone may not approve of Tom Cruise’s public behavior or personal beliefs, but industry watchers say Cruise is still a very bankable star, and plenty of people in town are eager to do business with him.

“Tom Cruise has absolutely nothing to worry about. He’s got one of the smartest and most professional teams behind him in the entertainment industry. He’s made billions of dollars for other people and he’s only going to make more money”, said Bragman.

In fact, Cruise is currently in pre-production on no less than three pictures right now, including another one for Paramount called “The Few”, directed by Michael Mann and is slated for release in 2006.

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