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June 24, 1996 12:00 PM

CRUISING TOWARD MILLIONS

Mission: Impossible is a bona fide hit, grossing $130 million in the first three weeks of release, but how much will its star, Tom Cruise, score off it? A small fortune. Cruise took no money up front, except for the small—as the movie business goes—$450,000 producer’s fee that he split with his producing partner, Paula Wagner. Cruise’s big money comes later, at what Hollywood calls “the back end.” And what an impressive back end it is likely to be. According to a Paramount source, Cruise will siphon off 17 cents from every box office dollar that Paramount collects. Since studios customarily split grosses 50-50 with theater owners, Cruise’s take adds up to $11 million—so far!…

So much for Dweezil Zappa’s romance with Sharon Stone, reported here two weeks ago. It lasted all of five days. I hear the Last Dance star, 38, broke it off after deciding that, sweet as he was, Zappa, 26, was a tad young for her. I’m also told that after spending a long weekend with him, Stone concluded her longtime friendship with Zappa would be better served if they went back to being just pals….

Yes, there will be a Speed 2, even though Keanu Reeves dropped out. A source at Twentieth Century Fox, which has budgeted the sequel at $70 million, says that after studio execs got over the shock of Reeves’ departure, they sat down to toss around names of possible replacements. The film’s costar, Sandra Bullock, who has no intention of dropping out, immediately suggested Matthew McConaughey, her highly touted costar in the forthcoming A Time to Kill. He’s not available, though, because Warner Bros., which had first dibs, will next pair him with Jodie Foster in the sci-fi drama Contact. So for now, adds the Fox source, “You can put every other actor in Hollywood on the list.”…

Two years ago, Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales signed a contract with publisher William Morrow to write a book on Oprah Winfrey. Now, Shales tells me, it’s “do-or-die time.” He has to get the project started—not to mention finished!—by the end of the summer. Shales says the TV talk show host has nothing to fear because he’s a fan and his will be “a friendly book, not a scorching exposé.” It’s not even a biography, says Shales, but an “appreciation and analysis of Oprah‘s impact on America.” Shales hopes Winfrey, with whom he has had only minimal contact, will cooperate, but realizes she may not. In either case, he adds, “What I have to do is sit down and do it.”…

Who’s gonna pay the Rent? Seems like everybody wants to. Warner Bros., Fox, Sony, New Line Cinema, Danny DeVito’s Jersey Films and Whitney Houston are all having movie-rights talks with the producers of the new Tony-winning Broadway musical….

At a June 7 party in Beverly Hills thrown by Hollywood biggies Jon Peters and Jeff Wald, with guests including Kevin Costner, Angela Bassett and Albert Brooks, director Renny Harlin was talking about the book his wife, Geena Davis, is writing. Her maiden literary effort, which her rep claims is only a journal and not for publication, is called You Married Him and is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Long Kiss Goodnight, an upcoming thriller in which Harlin directed her. She got the title while suspended 200 feet above the ground filming one of Harlin’s trademark flashy action sequences. As Harlin tells it, Davis started complaining, “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” and a crew member yelled back, “You married him.”

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