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Lou Harry's A&E

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Arts & Entertainment, etc.

Cruise and the cult of biography

January 15, 2008
Yes, it’s the big day. The unauthorized Tom Cruise biography is out.

Guess who won’t be reading it?

For one, a few clicks will get you all the couch-jumping, the Scientology, the wild rumors, and the rest that you could possibly want. Slate.com has even offered a quick guide to the juicy bits HERE. Why pay for the book?

For another, author Andrew Morton has written books on Princess Diana, the Beckhams, Madonna and Monica Lewinsky. ‘nuff said.

While I’m passing on the Cruise book, though, I am interested in how we, as audience members, react to biographical knowledge of those who create.

In other words, are you less likely to spend your money on a Tom Cruise movie because of what you think of him as a person?

Evidence indicates that that might be the case. The last two years haven’t been great for Cruise in the media—and the take of his movies at the box office seem to reflect that. This year’s “Lions for Lambs” grossed less than $15 million according to Box Office Mojo, the lowest numbers for a Cruise film since 1983’s “Losin’ It.”

And while “Mission: Impossible III” grossed $134 million, that’s a significant drop off from the $215 million raked in by “MI: II.” We’ll have more evidence when “Valkyrie,” about a plot to assassinate Hitler, is released later this year. (See the numbers HERE.

So has—and should—off-screen, off-page or off-canvas behavior influenced your feelings toward the work of artists or entertainers? Does Charlie Chaplin’s 17-year-old bride, Paul Gauguin’s abandoning of his wife and five kids, Mel Gibson’s drunken rant or the backgrounds of many a prison poet affect your appreciation of their work?

Your thoughts?
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