The Fix

Cruise gets the ax -- and a kick -- from Redstone. Jane magazine helps virgin try to lose it. Plus: Spears rebuffs Simpson.

Published August 23, 2006 1:30PM (EDT)

Morning Briefing:
Paramount dumps Cruise: It has been a sweet 14 years -- "The Firm"! "Jerry Maguire"! The "Mission Impossible" series! -- but the affair is over, over, over between Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures. In an unusually frank interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Sumner Redstone, head of Paramount parent company Viacom, said Cruise's recent public behavior influenced the decision not to renew Cruise's contract, which ends on Aug. 31. "As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew the deal," Redstone said. "His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount." Cruise has yet to respond, but his longtime producing partner, Paula Wagner, shot back, "It is graceless. It is undignified. It's not businesslike. I ask, what is his real agenda?" Wagner added that talks to renegotiate with the studio ended a week and a half ago, but in the meantime she and Cruise have put together funding for their own film venture. Nikki Finke points out that there's a lot to question in Redstone's move: "If I were a Viacom shareholder, I'd be asking Ol' Sumner right now: Are you nuts? Fine, don't do business anymore with the freakish dwarf actor who'll never win an Oscar unless he buys one at auction and who gets an exorbitant amount for each movie. But why the fuck are you setting up his legal piranha (Bert Fields, who's never lost a case) for what could well be the biggest lawsuit ever to hit Hollywood?" (Los Angeles Times, Deadline Hollywood Daily)

The almost-30-year-old virgin: Jane magazine is entering the fray of reality-TV-style journalism with a new project dedicated to helping 29-year-old Sarah DiMuro lose her virginity before she turns 30. The story goes that DiMuro wrote to Jane looking for help, and the magazine took her on as a project -- now she'll be keeping track of her progress publicly on her blog. Each week, readers send in recommendations for potential candidates and get to vote on whom she should date. (She says she's looking for a "nice, good-smelling tall guy she has chemistry with.") DiMuro also tells Lowdown she'd be OK with providing medical proof of her virginal status, if need be: "I would be totally willing, I would be thrilled, actually. Well, don't say 'thrilled.' Say I would be comfortable with that kind of evidence." (Jane, Lowdown)

The engagement's off for Brittany Murphy and her fiancé of eight months, Joe Macaluso. (Us Weekly) ... Meanwhile Brandon "Superman" Routh has gotten engaged to his girlfriend, actress Courtney Ford, Routh's rep tells People. (People) ... Life & Style Weekly reports that oil heir Brandon "Firecrotch" Davis has shacked up with Paris Hilton in Los Angeles. (The Scoop) ... While Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch are leaving "Saturday Night Live" for other things, four other cast members are about to be fired -- they know who they are, but the layoffs haven't been made public yet. (New York Post) ... Diddy's going to be a daddy: He and girlfriend Kim Porter, who already have an 8-year-old son, have announced that they are expecting. (Associated Press) ... Trey Parker and Matt Stone have signed on for two live-action movies with Paramount: a high school comedy and a spoof on monster movies, to be called "Giant Monsters Attack Japan!" (E! Online)

Money Quote:
Britney Spears' reported response when Jessica Simpson asked to kiss her pregnant belly backstage at Sunday's Teen Choice Awards: "Hell, no!" (Lowdown)

-- Scott Lamb

Turn On:
Florida Rep. Robert Wexler's staffers star in "The Hill" (9 p.m. EDT), Sundance's new political vérité series, and MTV debuts "Two-a-Days" (10:30 p.m. EDT), a reality show that follows the Hoover Bucs, a top-ranked high school football team from Alabama. Also, Morgan Spurlock sends an abortion clinic worker to live in a church-operated pregnancy crisis center on "30 Days" (FX, 10 p.m. EDT).

On the Talk Shows:
Larry King (CNN, 8 p.m. EDT): Sheryl Crow
Charlie Rose (PBS, check local listings): author Doris Kearns Goodwin (repeat)
David Letterman (CBS, 11:30 p.m. EDT): Artie Lang, Busta Rhymes
Jay Leno (NBC, 11:35 p.m. EDT): Colin Farrell, Rainn Wilson, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (repeat)
Conan O'Brien (NBC, 12:35 a.m. EDT): Sarah Jessica Parker, Matisyahu (repeat)
Craig Ferguson (CBS, 12:35 a.m. EDT): Trace Adkins, Amy Smart
Jimmy Kimmel (ABC, 12:05 a.m. EDT): Tom Cavanaugh, Tommy Chong, Cartel
Jon Stewart (Comedy Central, 11 p.m. EDT): Frederick Lane
Stephen Colbert (Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. EDT): Gideon Yago

-- Lamar Clarkson

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By Salon Staff

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