Armchair Publicist Would Totally Rein In Tom Cruise

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Vol 41 Issue 30

Chocolate Pudding Up $2 A Barrel

NEW YORK—The price per barrel of dark sweet chocolate pudding jumped to over $60 Monday as global anxiety continued to drive demand for the delicious after-meal treat. "There is no pudding-production shortfall, either from U.S. producers or the SNACPAC member nations," dessert analyst Blythe Barton said. "Demand alone is driving prices upward, with American consumers demonstrating an ongoing willingness to pay record prices per barrel for smooth, creamy pudding." The White House released a statement late Monday indicating that it has no intention of breaking the skin on the government's Strategic Pudding Reserves, which are to be used only in wartime or as a reward for finishing an entire serving of beets.

Bush To London Bombers: 'Bring It On'

WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush officially responded to the latest round of London transit bombings Monday, challenging terrorists to "do their worst." Said Bush, in a televised statement from the Oval Office: "The proud and resilient people of London can take anything the forces of evil and cowardice can throw at them. They will never live in fear of you. Bring it on." Prime Minister Tony Blair thanked Bush for his comments, inviting him to visit London and ride the Underground in a show of solidarity.

Study: 72 Percent Of High-Fives Unwarranted

DALLAS—Specialists at the National Exuberance Institute said Monday that nearly three quarters of national high-five slap exchanges are unnecessary. "Abuse and inappropriate implementation of the gesture is epidemic," said NEI president Avi Gupta. "Celebratory high-fives are marking such mundane accomplishments as the clearing of paper jams, the ordering of hot wings, the viewing of favorite TV commercials, and the simultaneous wearing of identical items of clothing." Gupta called for the use of restrained high-five alternatives, such as the "thumbs up" and the exchange of curt nods.

Scientists Discover 6,000-Year-Old Stain

HAFR AL-BATIN, SAUDI ARABIA—Textile archaeologists have unearthed a section of coarsely woven Sumerian goat's wool bearing what could be the world's oldest, and perhaps its toughest, stain. "The stain, in scientific terms, is 'ground-in,' doubtless one of the active-lifestyle stains that plagued Sumerian families," said Leigh Perkins, the leader of the Tulane University team that uncovered the stain. "We hope to determine whether it's mud, blood, or some kind of blueberry proto-pie." Scientists say they can learn a lot from the discovery, such as how tough the Sumerians were on grime.

Embattled Rove Seeks Asylum In Scarborough Country

SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY—Diplomatic sources reported Monday that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has sought asylum in the conservative stronghold of Scarborough Country. "During his June 23 visit, Mr. Rove had indicated he might petition us for sanctuary from media persecution," said Joe Scarborough, the monarchical ruler of Scarborough Country. "And in my country, no passports are required and only common sense is allowed." While officials review Rove's asylum request, he is being held in the No-Spin Zone, a region of absolute neutrality governed by commentator Bill O'Reilly.

I'm Choking On A Kalamata Olive, Not Your Everyday Olive

Oh, my. This is superb. Superb, indeed. My Greek grocer Kostas told me he had a surprise for me, and he certainly did: These are quite simply the finest kalamata olives I've ever tasted. Absolutely delightful. Certainly not your ordinary olive. It's a privilege, really, just to be choking on one, as I am right now.
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Armchair Publicist Would Totally Rein In Tom Cruise

OMAHA, NE—Responding to the negative press coverage Tom Cruise has received in recent weeks, University of Nebraska financial-aid clerk Ben Matherson, 28, announced Monday that things would be different if he were the megastar's publicist.

Tom Cruise's armchair publicist, Ben Matherson.

"Tom is a force of nature, no question," Matherson announced from his one-room efficiency apartment in the Cornhusker State. "You can't control him, but you have to at least steer him in the right direction. That's how you handle a star of his caliber."

According to Matherson, Cruise's "PR nightmare" began with an article in the German publication Der Spiegel, which reported that Cruise arranged to have a tent for the Church of Scientology set up on the set of War Of The Worlds.

"I have no idea what he was thinking, promoting Scientology when he's supposed to be shooting a film," said Matherson, who was on a movie set only once, when he took the Universal Studios tour in 1988.

Matherson added: "I would have redirected the questioning the moment the reporter started asking Tom about religion, or maybe just said, 'Okay, let's wrap this up.'"

Although not a regular reader of Der Spiegel, Matherson said he gleaned information about the publication from the celebrity-news program Insider, which he typically watches alone in his room while eating cold cereal.

Matherson cited Cruise's May 23 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show as the first sign the popular actor was in need of some guidance.

"Even with a guy like Tom Cruise, who makes $20 million a movie, you've got to lay down the law," said Matherson, who is not in a supervisory position in the financial-aid office. "I would have told him, 'Lay off the poetry. Stick with the smile. The smile is working for you.'"

Matherson said he has some ideas for keeping Cruise "on message."

An example of the sort of erratic behavior that has Matherson worried.

"I would want to work out a hand-signal system with Tom, so I could motion to him from backstage when he was getting out of control," Matherson said.

Matherson's friends and coworkers report that the file clerk often makes comments drawing on his knowledge of the celebrity world, which he monitors from this ensconced position in the center of America's cattle-producing heartland.

"Back when Britney Spears wed and divorced her childhood friend all within a 24-hour period, Ben used to lean over the countertop at the office and shake his head," said Shelly Johansen, who has worked as a file clerk in the financial-aid office since 1992. "He thought it was a really bad move for her."

Cruise is currently in Italy shooting Mission Impossible 3 and out of the public eye, which Matherson believes is "for the best."

"I don't know if Tom realizes what a headache he can be for a PR man," Matherson said, repeating comments he made earlier in the day to coworker Gary Siebold. "A good image buffing isn't gonna do the trick at this point. We need to talk damage control."

The lifelong Nebraska resident's recommendations for Cruise include pulling him off the interview circuit for "dehydration and exhaustion," then spending a day or two "giving him some talking points."

Jessica Furstrom, a receptionist from nearby Lincoln and a longtime armchair publicist for Courtney Love, said Matherson "has a long row to hoe" with Cruise.

"I went through a lot of this same type of thing with Courtney," Furstrom said. "These problems don't just go away by themselves. The hard work of repairing a star's image has to get done. And thank God there are publicists to do it."

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