Monday, August 28, 2006

A New Deal For Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise's production company has just made a new deal with a large investment company: Cruise hauls in a moviemaking deal. It didn't take long to find a willing group of investors.

Last week Sumner Redstone, the head of the massive multinational corporation "Viacom", bypassed several levels of his company to stop negotiations between Paramount Pictures and Tom Cruise's production company. That's sort of like the President of the United States stepping in to stop a contract negotiation taking place between the City of New York and Donald Trump, it just doesn't make sense.

Also, given that Tom's movies are responsible for roughly a third of Paramount's box office over the past six years (as reported in Daily Variety on Aug 27th) it makes even less sense. So what prompted Redstone to do this crazy act?

Redstone said about Cruise, "his recent conduct has not been acceptable." Hmm. Let's think, did Tom Cruise get drunk, get arrested and then make anti-Semitic comments to one of the cops? No, that was Mel Gibson. Did Tom Cruise throw a phone at a hotel employee who annoyed him? No. that was Russell Crowe. Did Tom Cruise get arrested for a hit and run? No that was someone else. Did he get caught with drugs in his possession? No, that was someone else too.

So what is the unacceptable conduct? Well, he did exercise his right to freedom of speech and told the truth on national TV about the dangers of psychiatric drugs, that there were no tests to prove that psychiatric diseases even existed and that psychiatrists were a bunch of frauds. All things that are known and proven facts.

But, in so doing he cost the drug companies a lot of money because the use of such drugs (antidepressants, etc.) fell noticeably in the following months. His speaking out also helped the FDA get up the courage to issue several warnings about the dangers of psychiatric drugs which further hurt drug company profits.

Now what has that got to do with Sumner Redstone? You ask. Simple, which industry is one of the biggest (possibly the biggest) advertisers? You guessed it: the drug industry. And where does a huge amount of Viacom's revenue come from? Advertising.

It's also possible Redstone has a lot of investment in drug companies - they are extremely profitable after all. Additionally he probably knows many of the top execs of the big drug companies: such people tend to be members of the same societies and are often on each other's boards of directors.

So with all that data it becomes clear why Redstone would be willing to jeopardize a third of the revenue of one relatively small entity in his monster company and why he was willing to attack a man who exercised his right to freedom of speech - a right without which Viacom wouldn't even exist.

Of course his action has not hurt Tom Cruise at all, his production company has already cut a deal with a willing group of investors. Poor old Paramount is the only one who will suffer from Redstone's actions.

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