The Fix

Tom Cruise cans his sister, Joaquin Phoenix goes bonkers, and Scooter Libby's steamy novel is hot, hot, hot!

Published November 8, 2005 2:15PM (EST)

Morning Briefing:
Sister act no more: Tom Cruise -- after firing P.R. legend Pat Kingsley in March 2004 and hiring his own sister, Lee Anne DeVette, to take over -- has finally gone back to a professional to handle his image. Cruise is replacing sis with publicist Paul Bloch and insists the change was nothing but amiable. "Lee Anne has done a wonderful job on behalf of myself and Cruise-Wagner Productions over the last few years," Cruise said in a statement. "But she has always expressed a desire to oversee and expand the day-to-day activities of my charitable endeavors." Of course, for Cruise -- who was just awarded a special prize for all his work for Scientology -- "charitable endeavors" means sending checks to the church. (Associated Press)

Joaquin walking the line? The big press push for "Walk the Line" is taking its toll on Joaquin Phoenix's always-precarious sanity. Page Six -- whose insiders report he's "on the verge of a nervous breakdown" -- recounts his odd behavior at the movie's Los Angeles premiere last Friday. "Do I have a large frog in my hair?" he asked a reporter on the red carpet. "Something's crawling out of my scalp." And when told he "looked great," Phoenix said, "No, but I feel it. I'm not worried about the looks. I'm worried about the sensation of my brain being eaten ... What did you ask me?" His publicist, either trying to explain away his behavior or herself overcome by hallucinations, said, "I think a fly flew on his head. I was standing right there and was laughing with him." (Page Six)

Now that his political career is over, there's always writing: Scooter Libby's racy debut novel -- yes, the one with the highly creepy sex scenes -- has turned from an out-of-print oddity into a hotly sought-after Amazon item. Prices for 1996's "The Apprentice," which just days ago were at a few dollars, now, post-indictment, range from $75 for a used paperback to $2,400 for an inscribed pre-first edition set of bound uncorrected proofs. (The cheapest hardcover is now going for $599.99 -- get them while they're hot!) (Reuters,

Sweet Jesus juice: The New York Daily News is speculating that Michael Jackson might find something to complain about in the recent trademark application -- submitted by "CBS Evening News" producer Bruce Rheins and his wife, actress Dawn Westlake -- for a new brand of wine: Jesus Juice. The cover depicts an image that mixes Jesus (circa the Crucifixion) with Jacko (sparkly red glove, black hat) and refers to what Jackson reportedly called the wine he gave to his underage guests. Rheins, who headed the network's coverage of the Jackson trial, is already apologizing: "My wife and I are hobby winemakers," he said. "We made a few bottles for friends. We never wanted to sell it. We only trademarked it because we didn't want other people to try to make money off it." (N.Y. Daily News, Smoking Gun)

Kate Hudson is firing back at all the tabs that concocted her eating disorder "scandal," replete with skinny photos and headlines like "Goldie Tells Kate: Eat Something! And She Listens!" Through the London law firm Schillings -- the same firm that Cameron Diaz used not so long ago -- she's suing Heat, Daily Mail U.K., Star, the National Enquirer and Closer for their stories about her earlier this fall that, as her lawyers put it, "gave a seriously false and misleading impression as to her true physical condition, in that she was portrayed as being dangerously thin with an eating disorder" ... More bad news on the paper front, and again the papers have only themselves to blame: While circulation numbers at the country's three biggest papers remained relatively stable -- the New York Times actually went up some -- average circulation for U.S. papers slipped 2.6 percent between March and September, with the San Francisco Chronicle losing a staggering 16.4 percent of its readership ... Tyra Banks, citing her busy schedule as a reality TV and talk show host, says she's giving up the runway: "I'm retiring this year. It's time for new blood"  Country singer and Renée Zellweger casualty Kenny Chesney, who appeared on Monday's "Good Morning America" to promote his new album, "The Road and the Radio," said he has no regrets about his short marriage to Zellweger: "Not at all, no. Because she and I fell in love like a couple of school kids. I'm glad to know that happens, that that exists" ... John Fowles, the British author best known for his books "The Magus" and "The French Lieutenant's Woman," died on Saturday in Dorset, England, at age 79.

Money Quote:
50 Cent on the sensitive side that comes out in his movie, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'": "Well, I've been spending a large portion of my life trying not to cry when things don't go right. When it came time for me to do that in the film ... I think my nervous energy helped me give it the right performance and I could actually do it." (Metromix)

Turn On:
See Nelly, Ashanti, Boyz II Men, Mario, Yolanda Adams and others come out to celebrate Patti LaBelle's 45 years in the music industry in "An All-Star Salute to Patti LaBelle: Live From Atlantis" (UPN, 9 p.m. EDT). Also, it's the series premiere of "Bad Girls" (BBC, 9 p.m. EDT) -- described as a women's version of prison-thriller "Oz" -- and "Boston Legal" (ABC, 10 p.m. EDT) features guest stars Anthony Heald (from "Boston Public"), Susan Rattan (from "L.A. Law") and Michael McKean (from "This Is Spinal Tap").

-- Scott Lamb

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