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Summer of Stars Behaving Strangely
by Christopher Stone

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"...,and a time for every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1.
More than any time in memory, this summer has been a season of stars behaving strangely.

What, under heaven, is the purpose? What will be the box office repercussions?

Strange Behavior: Tom Cruise, long known as Hollywood's least self-revealing star, kicked off the summer behaving strangely. On Oprah, May 23, Tom, in an unprecedented display, athletically declared his love for Katie Holmes by jumping up and down on Oprah's couch, as if it were a CGI Tripod from WAR OF THE WORLDS. In June, Tom's strange behavior continued. During a "Today" interview with Matt Lauer, Cruise was condescending and confrontational.

The Upshot: If Tom Cruise will pay for his strange behavior, it wasn't reflected in the WAR OF THE WORLDS box office. As of August 2, the blockbuster has grossed more than $500 million worldwide.

Strange Behavior: One week after Cruise's sofa shenanigans, Christian Slater was arrested in Manhattan on a sexual harassment charge. This was Slater's second strike. In 1997, he was charged with three counts of assault and one count of battery after he assaulted a girlfriend while intoxicated.

The Upshot: Stalled on the B-Level of celebrity for years, Christian's behavior is unlikely to affect his professional standing. As for the legal ramifications, they remain to be seen (on Court TV).

Strange Behavior: The National Enquirer barely had time to break the Christian Slater story when, on Monday, June 6, Russell Crowe was arrested and charged with assault after he threw a telephone at a hotel employee. With a history of anger management issues, Crowe had been relatively docile since marrying Danielle Spencer in 2003.

The Upshot: Perhaps Crowe's angry violence did come back to haunt him. His just-released CINDERELLA MAN, a huge critical favorite, tanked at the box office. Even AMC's Money Back Guarantee to CINDERELLA MAN ticket buyers, didn't help.

Strange Behavior: Photographer John Rutter, 42, tried to blackmail Cameron Diaz with topless photos, taken when she was a teenaged model. Now he's convicted of forgery, attempted grand theft and perjury. Next month, he faces sentencing of up to six years in prison.
What's strange is that the blonde beauty's stardom is based largely on her physical assets, and not on her acting chops. Why would this luscious lady balk at anyone seeing her perky teenaged breasts?

The Upshot: If anything, Cameron Diaz's star wattage would have brightened, not dimmed, with the release of topless photos. She won in court, but she lost at the box office.

Strange Behavior: The year Robin Williams married his childrens' nanny, he was rewarded with an Oscar. However, unlike Jude Law, Robin wasn't engaged to someone else at the time. Jude Law and actress Sienna Miller's late July Nannygate was a sad debacle.

The Upshot: Jude has lost the possibility of wedded bliss with Sienna, but a few more professional choices such as ALFIE, and scandal will be the least of his woes.

Strange Behavior: Colin Farrell's former flame, Nicole Nerain, a one-time Miss Playboy January, wants to release a sex video of the couple. Colin is trying to stop her. Tommy Lee, caught inside Pamela Anderson, in his own sex tape scandal, has quipped of Farrell's predicament: "Hopefully, his performance is good!"

The Upshot: Movie audiences worldwide have already seen Farrell nude. Seeing him in a sex tape could only enhance Colin's carefully cultivated bad boy's persona.

In conclusion, in the 21st Century, a star's strange behavior may cause embarrassment and personal loss, but it's unlikely to diminish box office appeal. However, if your strange behavior includes violence against others, then your Cinderella coach may just morph back into a pumpkin.

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The Business of Show
Every other Friday

Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.

Other Columns
Other columns by Christopher Stone:

The Cautionary Box-Office

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up. Part Two

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up, Part 1

Quality Is Independent

Oh, the Horror!

All Columns

Christopher Stone
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.

He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christopher Stone by clicking here.

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