Cruise hoax: For once, there's a hoax involving Tom Cruise and the joke's not on him. A press release posted on pressbox.co.uk that was picked up by several media sites, including Gawker.com, claimed Cruise would be doing a number of lectures on Scientology in Los Angeles next month, including one called "How Psychiatry Invented Schizophrenia, and What Scientologists Can Do About It." Unfortunately for Gawker -- and Scientologists who've been looking for tickets online -- the lecture series is wholly made up. Cruise apparently does still spend time actually making movies, and is currently busy filming "Mission Impossible III." (Fox 411)
Star not welcome on the red carpet? Star Jones' recent departure from E! may not have been as friendly as it seemed. Star's last appearance on the network was during the coverage of the red carpet outside the Emmys, and she has said she's simply going to be too busy promoting her book to work for the channel -- and E! itself says she wasn't fired -- but the Post has a source that says Star's irritating self-promotion over the last year may have cost her the job. "One year was enough," a source told the paper. "She just didn't do well on the red carpet and E! is letting her blame the book, but they were the ones telling her they wouldn't be picking up her option. Do you think Star would give up good money and a load of freebies from the goody bags and the dresses for a book? No way." (N.Y. Post)
Gotti goes home: After six years in prison ended with a mistrial in his racketeering trial, John "Junior" Gotti is out of prison and under house arrest -- and his return to the family home in Long Island was all about food. The Post's Steven Dunleavy went out to talk to the junior suspected mob boss, and Gotti bashfully said, "I would ask you in for a cup of coffee, but I don't know exactly the rules of my house arrest, I really feel bad." Gotti's mother was happy but somewhat at a loss, too. "I'm so glad he's out, I can't tell you how glad, but frankly I can't tell you who's cooking what." After pleading guilty to racketeering and tax evasion in 1999, Gotti served out his term in a federal penitentiary in Ray Brook, N.Y., and was set to be released last year when prosecutors introduced a new case against him for allegedly taking over the Gambino crime family in 1992. (N.Y. Post)
In other gangster news, Henry Hill, the mobster on whom Ray Liotta's character in "Goodfellas" was based, is going back to jail. Earlier this week, the witness protection program participant/celebrity chef was sentenced to 180 days for attempted possession of methamphetamine She's not exactly Howard Stern, but Joan Baez may be getting some extra-special attention from the Federal Communications Commission for her on-air language. Appearing in Martin Scorsese's paean/documentary about Bob Dylan, Baez said "fuck" when talking about how frustrating Dylan could be at times. PBS said it sent out both a clean and an edited version to stations, and only New York's WNET-TV went with the unedited version Jodie Foster's new movie, "Flightplan," may have been the No. 1 film in the country last weekend, but it didn't fly with one particular group: Flight attendants are outraged at the way the film depicts their profession, and are planning to organize a boycott of the thriller. Without giving away any of the plot, it's safe to say that the movie does put some flight attendants in an unflattering light, and a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants calls the film "irresponsible." A Disney spokesman told the Los Angeles Times, "We are confident the public will be able to discern the difference between fiction and the incredible job real-life flight attendants do on a daily basis" The ratings battle between "Good Morning America" and "Today" has taken on a kinder, gentler element. The two shows are engaged in a battle of compassion, both going to great ends to reach out to survivors of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. While NBC's "Today" has transformed Rockefeller Plaza into a construction zone for a house being built and sent south, ABC's "GMA" has adopted the devastated hometown of anchor Robin Roberts, Pass Christian, Miss. "If the competitive spirit leads to making a real difference and to having homes built and roadways cleared and schools started, it's a good thing," said "GMA" executive producer Ben Sherwood It was apparently supposed to be a big secret, but Jennifer Garner ruined it by blurting out her baby's gender on Jay Leno's show on Wednesday night. "You can just start to feel really pregnant. Like you are the hugest person on the face of the planet ... And then I felt just bigger and bigger like she ...," said Garner, then quickly covered her mouth with her hands The "race" to decide who will get the dubious honor of playing the next James Bond is drawing to a close. After the role was dissed by former Bond Pierce Brosnan and rejected by Hugh Jackman and Clive Owen, it's now between four relative unknowns to take up the super-spy's mantle: English actors Daniel Craig and 22-year-old Henry Cavill, Croatian "ER" star Goran Visnjic and Australian Sam Worthington.
Fashion designer Valentino on how the stars today have lost the glamour of eras past: "Today you see Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz running around looking unkempt in jogging trousers, they look like bag ladies, like homeless people In the past, actresses had to commit in their contracts to appear in public like stars when they left their homes." (Sydney Morning Herald)
Rapper Common on how much he loves to crowd-surf his own shows: "I love to dive in the crowd if the energy is there although sometimes I've got dropped ... One time somebody took my shoe and I had to go home after the show with one shoe on." (Contactmusic)
It's the cliffhanger-resolving season premiere of "Alias" (ABC, 8 p.m. EDT) as well as the live opener of "Will & Grace" (NBC, 8:30 p.m. EDT). Also, the day before the 50th anniversary of his death, "Crash Science: James Dean's Death" (National Geographic, 9 p.m.) features "accident reconstructionist" Mike Kennedy taking a look at the star's fatal 1955 car crash.
-- Scott Lamb