November 8, 2005

Tom Cruise replaces sister with new publicist

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After a string of publicity faux
pas that made him one of Hollywood's favorite punch lines,
actor Tom Cruise has hired a leading public relations firm to
replace his sister as his chief spokesperson.

In a statement issued on Monday by his new publicist,
Cruise said Rogers & Cowan has taken over as his personal
publicist and would also oversee media relations for his
production company, Cruise-Wagner Prods.

His sister, Lee Anne DeVette, is now assigned exclusively
to handle day-to-day operations of Cruise's charitable
activities. She had been serving as the actor's lead
spokeswoman since he fired his long-time publicist Pat Kingsley
last year.

Rogers & Cowan co-chairman Paul Bloch dismissed suggestions
that his firm was hired in response to a perception that
Cruise's publicity had been mishandled during the past year as
the actor's image took a drubbing in the media.

"It's not that way at all," Bloch told Reuters. "What
happened was that Tom's entertainment work was so heavy and his
philanthropy work was so heavy, they wanted to split the jobs
up. It's nothing more than that."

Said Cruise in a statement: "Lee Anne has done a wonderful
job on behalf of myself and Cruise-Wagner ... but she has
always expressed a desire to oversee and expand the day-to-day
activities of my charitable endeavors."

Cruise became the butt of jokes from television comedians,
newspaper columnists and Internet spoof artists after his
couch-hopping appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in May to
ecstatically profess his love for actress Katie Holmes.

The 43-year-old star upped the ante two weeks later with a
Paris news conference to announce his engagement to Holmes, who
has since revealed she is pregnant.

Cruise also raised eyebrows with intense public discussions
of his faith in the Church of Scientology, including criticism
of actress Brooke Shields for revealing she had taken
medication as treatment for postpartum depression.

In a testy exchange on NBC's "Today" show, Cruise called
psychiatry a "pseudo science" and told co-host Matt Lauer: "You
don't know the history of psychiatry. I do."

Shields shot back at Cruise in a New York Times opinion
column, saying his "ridiculous rant" was a "disservice to
mothers everywhere." The American Psychiatric Association also
condemned the actor's comments.

Many in Hollywood wondered whether the star's behavior off
screen might eventually spark a backlash that could damage his
box office potential. The change in his public relations comes
as Cruise has been busy making his latest film, "Mission:
Impossible III."