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"Being Tom Cruise"
Star Stories episode
Being Tom Cruise title.jpg
Title card
Episode no. Series 2
Episode 2
Written by Lee Hupfield, Bert Tyler-Moore, George Jeffrie
Directed by Elliot Hegarty
Produced by Philip Clarke, Lee Hupfield, Andrew O'Connor
Featured music Mark Thomas
Photographed by Pete Rowe
Edited by Mark Davies
Original airdate August 2, 2007 (2007-08-02)
Episode chronology
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"Take That" "Simon Cowell - My Honesty, My Genius"

The Church of Scientology Presents: Being Tom Cruise, Why Scientology Isn't In Any Way Mental is a satirical spoof documentary from the series Star Stories, parodying the life of Tom Cruise and his relationship with the Church of Scientology. It is episode 2 of the second series of Star Stories, and first aired on Channel 4 on August 2, 2007. The show recounts Cruise's time with a group of actors known as the Brat Pack. After filming Top Gun, Cruise (Kevin Bishop) is introduced to Scientology by John Travolta (Steve Edge), who convinces him by smashing Cruise over the head with a shovel. He meets Nicole Kidman (Dolly Wells) and hoists himself down to bed with her in a spoof of Mission: Impossible. After a relationship with Penelope Cruz, Cruise is introduced to Katie Holmes (Laura Patch) by Travolta. Holmes appears to be a robot, and answers "Affirmative", when Cruise asks her to marry him. The program ends with a voiceover asking the viewer to visit a Scientology website and purchase expensive products.

The program received positive reception, and The Guardian and the Evening Times highlighted it as the "pick of the day".[1][2] A review in the Evening Times called the show "equally cruel and sidesplittingly hilarious",[2] and The Daily Mirror described it as a "brilliant spoof".[3] The Sunday Times characterized the show as "Comedy so broad it barely fits on the screen, it is hard not to be amused",[4] and the Herald Sun called it "hilarious" and a "ruthless but spot-on parody".[5]

Contents

Plot

The parody of Tom Cruise (Kevin Bishop) is framed through the viewpoint of the actor's association with the Church of Scientology.[6] The show recounts the actor's days with a group of actors known as the Brat Pack, and how he maintains a friendship with Patrick Swazye, an actor from this crowd.[1] While filming Top Gun, Cruise is afraid he looks "a bit gay" next to his co-stars.[3] His co-stars subsequently turn into the Village People.[3] Cruise has alien spirit guides who appear as "a pair of giant blobs who speak with Welsh accents".[2] They comment on Top Gun, "It's no ET but it's got something."[2] Cruise is introduced to Scientology by John Travolta (Steve Edge), who presents it as a "legitimate alien-race-based religion".[1][3] After Travolta bashes him over the head with a shovel, Cruise remarks: "Ouch. . . wait a minute. Scientology. It all makes perfect sense now."[2] Ewan McGregor tries to convince Cruise to convert to the Jedi methodology.[4]

When Cruise first meets Nicole Kidman (Dolly Wells), he asks her to sit down so that he will appear taller.[1] Cruise performs his "dangling-from-the ceiling routine" from Mission: Impossible – while in bed with Kidman.[2] Cruise asks Kidman how he can prove he is not gay, and she recommends that they make the film Eyes Wide Shut.[3] Stanley Kubrick is portrayed as a sleazy film director,[2] and the program shows a newspaper headline giving a critical review of Eyes Wide Shut.[5] The show portrays Cruise's relationship with Penelope Cruz, who is seen wearing a mantilla.[4] Travolta introduces Cruise to his third wife Katie Holmes (Laura Patch) who is depicted as a robotic Stepford Wife.[3][7] "Greetings, Earth Man, I am here to serve you," says Holmes to Cruise upon their first meeting.[3] After Cruise asks Holmes to marry him, she states, "Affirmative".[3] The show makes fun of Cruise's couch jumping incident on The Oprah Winfrey Show.[7] At the wedding of Cruise and Holmes, an alien bride and groom are displayed on the top of the couple's wedding cake, and the show spoofs the couple's wedding vows.[7] A voiceover at the end of the program tells the viewer to visit scientologyisgreat.com and purchase £4,000 worth of books.[3]

Production

Production on the second series of Star Stories was announced by Channel 4 in January 2007, and in addition to Tom Cruise, others set for parodying included Simon Cowell, Britney Spears and "the 1990s chart battle between Oasis and Blur".[8][9] The show was episode two of the second series of Star Stories.[10] The episode was first broadcast on Channel 4 on August 2, 2007.[11] On its website, Channel 4 promoted the episode with the description, "Hollywood's smallest actor (after Danny DeVito) expounds on Aliens from Outer Space and the best career choices ever."[11]

In reviews of the show, multiple publications commented on the potential legal implications of parodying both Tom Cruise and Scientology.[2][4] "Given the Church of Scientology's full-throttle reaction to any criticism or mickey-taking, the Star Stories boys are sure to find themselves in the firing line," wrote a reviewer for the Evening Times.[2] A review in The Sunday Times commented, "Taking their careers in their hands, the Star Stories team tackle the notoriously litigious Tom Cruise ... The lawyers must still be having a nice lie down after watching."[4] In an interview with The Northern Echo, Star Stories actor Kevin Bishop discussed the legal issues involved with making the series, "We're not allowed to say anything about anyone that isn't true. It can be quite tricky. Sometimes we've had to change lines even when the filming is all finished. We go back to the recording studio and put one line over another line. ... The only reason I reckon we've not been sued is because actually we've not said anything that technically we can't."[12] He said the series was "well looked after" by attorneys.[13] In a 2009 interview with The Independent, Bishop recounted an experience when he gave a copy of the program to television producers in the United States: "I gave some American producers the Star Stories DVD and those that could be bothered to watch it saw the Tom Cruise one. One guy went 'you can't do that it's Tom Cruise man? [we’ve done it] 'yeah but you can't do that on TV' [it's already gone out] 'what you’re talking about Scientology, are you fucking nuts?? [er, look we’ve done it it's been on telly and everyone loved and we've had no complaints] has Tom Cruise seen this?!"[14] In August 2007, the series was set to be remade into a new version in the U.S.[15]

Reception

"This is as close to must-watch television as you're likely to get and a testament to the quality of comedy writing on display."

The Guardian and the Evening Times highlighted the Star Stories parody as the "pick of the day".[1][2] Martin Skeggs of The Guardian commented, "There's everything you ever wanted to know about the world's number one film star, including how he was introduced to Scientology (John Travolta whacked him over the head with a shovel), the time he met Nicole Kidman and asked her if she would mind sitting down to make him look taller".[1] He characterized the parody as, "A toned down version of real life, then."[1] Barry McDonald of the Evening Times described the episode as "equally cruel and sidesplittingly hilarious".[2] He commented, "This is as close to must-watch television as you're likely to get and a testament to the quality of comedy writing on display."[2] In a later review of the program for the Evening Times when it was show again on re-runs, McDonald wrote, "Now, I'm usually the first one to whine about the number of repeats on telly but some things are worth a second glance and this is definitely one of them. ... I don't care if it's been shown several times before, this is one of the shows which you just have to see again."[16] Anila Baig of The Sun highlighted the show as "Best Spoof", and wrote, "pint-sized Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise is subjected to some serious mocking. We follow his film career, his marriages to Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes (portrayed as a robot) and how everything in his life has been shaped by his belief in Scientology. The show is as crude as ever".[17] Stephen Milton of The Sun described the parody of Cruise's appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show as "the best gag in the whole episode".[6] Aidan Smith of Scotland on Sunday wrote favorably of the show, and noted, "Fearlessly, in view of how paranoid Scientologists are, the latest target was Tom Cruise. I especially liked the scene where the tiny screen giant winched himself, Mission Impossible-style, on to Nicole Kidman while she slugged from a tinnie like a good Sheila."[18]

The Daily Mirror gave a tongue-in-cheek analysis of the satire on the program, commenting, "They don't poke fun at his sofa-jumping appearance on Oprah Winfrey's chat show, or his original dodgy teeth. And what they most certainly don't do is rip the proverbial out of his bonkers wedding vows, or stick an alien bride and groom on top of his wedding cake. No, because that would just be cruel. And regular viewers know that this show's writers and actors would never do that. Because doing that would be, well, it would just be far too funny."[7] A review in The Daily Mirror was positive, commenting, "If you want to see a brilliant spoof about Tom Cruise's faith in Scientology and his relationship with Katie Holmes, look no further than C4's Star Stories."[3] She commented, "It's so absurd, even Tom will laugh."[3] The Advertiser described Star Stories as "a surprisingly funny sendup of movie stars and pop groups", and noted of the episode's title, "This week's episode is titled Being Tom Cruise - How Scientology isn't in Any Way Mental, which should give you some idea of the vein of humour mined."[10] The Sunday Times observed, "Just when you thought you might go a week without seeing a mention of brand Beckham, here is a documentary on their best friends, brand Tom Cruise, as recorded by the least reverential writers and least convincing lookalikes on the planet. Scientologists might prefer something on the Sci-fi channel."[19] Victoria Segal, Sally Kinnes and Sarah Dempster of The Sunday Times highlighted the episode in their "Critics' Choice" column.[4] They commented that the show's producers "[give] their own account of his career, his love life and his religion: It's all about aliens. Comedy so broad it barely fits on the screen, it is hard not to be amused".[4] Cameron Adams of the Herald Sun highlighted the program as his "Top Choice".[5] Adams described the show as "hilarious", and commented, "This ruthless but spot-on parody re-enacts Cruise's life and career through Hollywood gossip, rumour and exaggeration (his father is a midget, Katie Holmes a robot, Nicole Kidman a beer-swilling bogan), but is an antidote to every interview he's ever done."[5] Writing for The Newcastle Herald, Anita Beaumont commented, "This is really silly stuff, but it is amusing enough to enliven a fairly dull night of TV."[20] The Sunday Mirror wrote that the program "was as subtle as a sledge hammer".[21] Simon Hoggart of The Spectator called the program "a magnificently over-the-top anti-celebrity festival".[22]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Skegg, Martin (July 28, 2007). "The Guide: Television Friday 3: pick of the day: Star Stories". The Guardian (Guardian Newspapers Ltd). 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m McDonald, Barry (August 3, 2007). "Pick of the Day Star Stories, Channel 4". Evening Times (Newsquest Media Group Ltd). 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The Daily Mirror staff (July 30, 2007). "TV Land: Sex flick Star Tom". The Daily Mirror. http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv-entertainment/tv/tv-land/2007/07/30/sex-flick-star-tom-115875-19541810/. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Segal, Victoria; Sally Kinnes and Sarah Dempster (July 29, 2007). "Critics' Choice - Television". The Sunday Times (Times Newspapers Limited): p. Culture 72. 
  5. ^ a b c d Adams, Cameron (January 14, 2009). "Television - Top Choice". Herald Sun (Nationwide News Pty Limited): p. 087. 
  6. ^ a b Milton, Stephen (August 3, 2007). "A peep at Tom - Television". The Sun (News Group Newspapers Limited): p. Eire TV Guide 1. 
  7. ^ a b c d Quigley, Maeve (August 3, 2007). "TV Ireland: Comedy Star Stories". The Daily Mirror. 
  8. ^ Nathan, Sara (January 23, 2007). "Channel 4 is lining up a second series of comic spoof Star Stories - TV Biz". The Sun (News Group Newspapers Limited): p. 23. 
  9. ^ Simon, Jane (July 27, 2007). "Your Life: We Love Telly! - Comedy Star Stories C4". The Daily Mirror. 
  10. ^ a b The Advertiser staff (January 14, 2009). "Star Stories". The Advertiser (Nationwide News Pty Limited): p. D04. 
  11. ^ a b Channel 4 (2009). "Star Stories - Series 2, Episode 2". Channel4.com (www.channel4.com). http://www.channel4.com/programmes/star-stories/episode-guide/series-2/episode-2. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  12. ^ Pratt, Steve (August 2, 2007). "Television - Star attraction". The Northern Echo: p. 05. 
  13. ^ Scott, Sally (December 3, 2007). "Hilarious tongue-in-cheek celeb peek". Tonight (Tonight & Independent Online (Pty) Ltd). http://www.tonight.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=4155961&fSectionId=434&fSetId=251. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  14. ^ The Independent staff (July 22, 2009). "Kevin Bishop - Perfect comic timing". The Independent (Independent News and Media Limited). http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/kevin-bishop--perfect-comic-timing-1756547.html?FORM=ZZNR10. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  15. ^ Wallis, Alistair (August 28, 2007). "Media Consumption: Zoe Mode's Paul Mottram". Gamasutra (Think Services). http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=15275. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  16. ^ McDonald, Barry (October 2, 2008). "TV Pick of the Day - High-flying task set to crash chefs". Evening Times (Newsquest Media Group Ltd). 
  17. ^ Baig, Anila (August 3, 2007). "What to watch tonight - Television". The Sun (News Group Newspapers Limited): p. 35. 
  18. ^ Smith, Aidan (August 5, 2007). "Television Review: On the Box". Scotland on Sunday (The Scotsman Publications Ltd). 
  19. ^ The Sunday Times staff (July 29, 2007). "The best of the week ahead - Television". The Sunday Times (Times Newspapers Limited 2007): p. Culture 51. 
  20. ^ Beaumont, Anita (January 14, 2009). "Highlights - TV & Stars". The Newcastle Herald (Newcastle Newspapers Pty Limited): p. 79. 
  21. ^ O'Sullivan, Kevin (August 5, 2007). "Big up". Sunday Mirror. 
  22. ^ Hoggart, Simon (August 4, 2007). "Misleading the public". The Spectator. 

External links

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