TOP TALENT AGENCY MAY BOYCOTT PARAMOUNT

The head of Hollywood's leading talent agency has condemned Viacom chief Sumner Redstone's castigating comments about Tom Cruise and has suggested that the agency may now refuse to do business with Viacom's Paramount studios. In an interview with today's (Thursday) Wall Street Journal, Richard Lovett, president of Creative Artists Agency, which represents Cruise, said, "Paramount has no credibility right now. ... It is not clear who is running the studio and who is making the decisions." Cruise's partner, Paula Wagner, is a onetime CAA agent and is married to Cruise's current representative at CAA, Rick Nicita. On Tuesday Redstone told the newspaper that Paramount was cutting its ties with Cruise's production company because the actor's behavior over the past year was "not acceptable to Paramount." As the newspaper pointed out, under ordinary circumstances such an announcement would have come from Paramount Chairman Brad Grey or Viacom CEO Tom Freston. "For such talk to come out of the blue, from Mr. Redstone himself, and then be followed by two days of silence from both Mr. Grey and Mr. Freston, stunned Hollywood's power elite," the Journal observed. For his part, Redstone told today's Los Angeles Times: "Tom Freston should have made the announcement, but it was apparent to me he didn't want to, and I understand why: Because he's in the talent business." Redstone, in his interview with the Wall Street Journal, also said that he had received "congratulatory calls" from DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen -- who reportedly engineered the sale of the studio to Paramount -- and Imagine Entertainment founder Brian Grazer. "It is about time that the industry started dealing with these stars in a different manner and let them know that they are not going to get big money and act in a way that is inappropriate and embarrasses the studios," Redstone said.

WALL STREET SIDES WITH REDSTONE

Wall Street appeared to judge the Tom Cruise/Paramount schism less harshly than Hollywood. Entertainment analyst Hal Vogel of Vogel Capital Management told today's (Thursday) Hollywood Reporter that the movie industry may be coming around to the conclusion that "you can't have [film stars] walking away with the lion's share of the profit and the studio that risks the capital ... [getting] less payment than the guy who didn't risk any capital." (Viacom shares rose slightly on Wednesday but had given up most of their gains by midday today.) Other analysts expected that the Cruise/Wagner company would have little difficulty raising funds to finance its own movies. In an interview with the Associated Press, Simon Franks, chairman of Redbus Group, a private equity group, indicated he would have no reluctance to invest in a Cruise/Wagner production: "Most actors are overvalued, but Cruise is one of the few who is undervalued," Franks said. "He's never had a failure, so you'll get a high return on average investment."

ORIGINAL NIGHTMARE TO RETURN TO THEATERS -- FOR TWO DAYS

In advance of its release on DVD, Wes Craven's original Freddy Krueger horror flick A Nightmare on Elm Street will be shown in 124 theaters across the country for two days only, Sept. 20 and 21, New Line announced Wednesday. In addition to the digitally remastered film, the theaters will be showing a reel of "Freddy's Best Kills," from seven Krueger sequels -- a reel, said New Line studios, "that can be seen only in theaters during this special event." Tickets are being sold online by www.BigScreenBoxOffice.com for $10.00.

HISTORY BOYS TO RECEIVE ROYAL TREATMENT

The film version of playwright Alan Bennett's The History Boys, this year's winner of Broadway's Tony award for best play, will have its Royal World Premiere attended by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, in London on Oct. 2. The entire cast of the play -- and movie -- will fly to London from New York, where it ends its engagement on Oct. 1. The play also won awards for director Nicholas Hytner, actor Richard Griffiths, and actress Frances de la Tour. In addition, it won for sets and lighting, making it the most honored play on Broadway since 1949's Death of a Salesman. The film version, from Fox Searchlight, is scheduled for release in the U.S. on Nov. 22.

Brian B.