2ND UPDATE: According to United Artists, Germany’s reported opposition to UA’s movie-in-the-works Valkyrie filming at military sites has less to do with its star Cruise’s being a “dangerous” Scientology and more to do with fuss and bother. Yes It’s Clear, Tom Cruise, Perfectly Clear
UPDATE: United Artists CEO Paula Wagner responds to Germany nixing the studio’s new pic from filming at military sites because its star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist. (The German government has long claimed Scientology is a cult out to make money. Cruise, Travolta and other celeb members have lobbied U.S. leaders to pressure Germany to stop its anti-Scientology campaign.) Although the Defense Ministry has not yet received official requests from United Artists, Valkyrie “will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult,” a Defense Ministry spokesman said today. The movie is about Stauffenberg’s heroic involvement in the real-life 1944 “July Plot” to assassinate Hitler; it was supposed to start filming in Berlin next month. Today, Paula Wagner responded: “Aside from his obvious admiration of the man he is portraying, Mr. Cruise’s personal beliefs have absolutely no bearing on the movie’s plot, themes, or content. And even though we could shoot the movie anywhere in the world, we believe Germany is the only place we can truly do the story justice.”
That reborn studio, United Artists, is showing its first trailer for a movie, choosing to showcase before Fox’s Live Free Or Die Hard. It’s a teaser for the political drama directed by Robert Redford Lions for Lambs starring Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, and Redford which debuts in November. The pic is about how injuries sustained by two Army rangers behind enemy lines in Afghanistan set off a sequence of events involving a congressman, a journalist, and a college professor. This is the first of what appears to be the start of a campaign to raise the profile of UA, basically Tom’s giant fuck-you to Sumner Redstone. Both Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner are UA directors and shareholders after striking a deal to run and revive it with parent company MGM. First, they reworked the UA logo (still unveiled). Now Wagner this month gave an interview to the Financial Times. She talked again how the team is closing in on $500 million in production financing being arranged by Merrill Lynch. After months and months of promises about it, I hear it will close before the end of this month. She said the plan is to make only four pics a year. To publicize the studio formed back in 1919 by Hollywood actors, Wagner showed the FT journo a clip reel of classic scenes from some of UA’s best-known films complete with stirring music: The African Queen, Some Like it Hot, Dr No, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Great Escape. The other movie on UA’s slate is the World War II drama based on the true story of the “July plot” to assassinate Hitler, Valkyrie, which stars Cruise along with Kenneth Branagh. It starts shooting in Berlin on July 19th and reunites the Usual Suspects team: director Bryan Singer and writers Chris McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander. Already, the studio has hired two veterans: ex Paramount exec Don Granger, who also served as production head at Cruise/Wagner Prods, as UA’s prez of production, and Disney movie marketer and publicist Dennis Rice as UA’s prez of worldwide marketing and publicity.