CRUISE CAMEO BRINGS DOWN THE HOUSE

A cameo appearance by Tom Cruise as a bald, foulmouthed movie mogul in Paramount's Tropic Thunder "brought down the house" at a studio screening Tuesday night, the New York Times reported today (Thursday) in an article headed, "Tom Cruise, in Bit Role, Nips Studio's Top Gun." Paramount is owned by Viacom, whose chairman, Sumner Redstone, tossed Cruise off the Paramount lot in 2006, expressing his anger over Cruise's comments on behalf of Scientology while promoting the studio's latest Mission: Impossible sequel. Only last week Redstone and Cruise dined together, with Redstone remarking afterwards that they had buried the hatchet -- apparently unaware of the new hatchet that lay waiting for him. The Times reported that director Ben Stiller had planned to keep Cruise's appearance in the movie a surprise. Cruise is not named in the film's credits and his scene is not included in the trailer for the film.

LEGEND THIS WEEK; ALVIN, NEXT

In its second week on the DVD charts, the Will Smith drama I Am Legend took over first place from Disney's Enchanted on the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert sales chart. It also remained at the top of Home Media magazine's rental chart for a second week, bringing its rental gross to $20 million. But Legend's tenure at the top is likely to be shortlived. Home Media reported today (Thursday) that consumers grabbed 2.6 million copies of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Alvin and the Chipmunks during its first day in stores on Tuesday.

BORAT IS JOURNALISM, JUDGE RULES

In what appeared to some to be a broadening of the legal definition of journalism, a New York federal judge on Wednesday tossed out a defamation lawsuit brought by a man appearing in the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, saying that it could be described as "newsworthy." The lawsuit had been brought by financial analyst Jeffrey Lemerond, who is shown in the movie running away from the film's star, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, as Cohen, in the role of a Kazakhstan journalist, attempts to hug strangers on New York's Fifth Avenue. Lemerond alleged in his lawsuit that he had suffered "public ridicule, degradation, and humiliation" since the movie was released. But U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Preska said that the film was intended as a commentary on human behavior. "The movie challenges its viewers to confront, not only the bizarre and offensive Borat character himself, but the equally bizarre and offensive reactions he elicits from 'average' Americans,"' she wrote.

INDONESIAN STUDENTS STAGE ANGRY PROTEST OVER WENDERS'S FILM

About 30 Indonesian students angered over Dutch lawmaker Geert Wenders's anti-Koran film Fitna attempted to storm a Dutch consulate building Wednesday and were greeted by police who fired into the air to prevent them from gaining access to the property, the Dutch newspaper de Volksrant reported today (Thursday). Protesters were able to break down the gates of the consulate and burn the Dutch flag before being arrested or dispersed. Indonesia, which was known as the Dutch East Indies prior to 1949 when it achieved its independence, is the world's most populous Muslim state. The government has demanded that YouTube remove Wenders's film or face being officially blocked. Meanwhile Queen Rania of Jordan has launched a YouTube page, saying that the site is potentially a "great platform for dialogue" between the West and Arab countries. "I want people to know the real Arab world -- to see it unedited, unscripted and unfiltered -- to see the personal side of my region -- to know the places and faces and rituals and culture that shape the part of the world I call home," she said in a clip posted on the site.

JAPANESE THEATERS CANCEL SCREENINGS OF NEW FILM

Saying that they fear possible protests, five Japanese theaters have canceled plans to screen Yasukuni by Chinese director Li Ying, who is based in Japan. The film concerns the annual ceremonies that take place at Yasukuni Shrine dedicated to Japan's World War II dead. Some critics have denounced it as "anti-Japanese." It had been scheduled to open in Tokyo on April 12 and in other Japanese theaters during the late fall and summer. An employee of one of the Tokyo theaters that have refused to screen the film told the Yomiuri Shimbun that it "could cause trouble for theaters and commercial facilities in the area." The London Independent reported that employees of the theaters and the distributors had received death threats. Expressing fear that theaters in other areas of the country might follow suit, the film's distributor issued a statement saying, "We have a sense of crisis over Japan's freedom of speech and freedom of expression."

Brian B.