sue. Just do it. Sue, sue, sue. Do it. Go, go, go, go."
Cruise, revealing in Details magazine how he tells
his lawyer to deal with negative press.
been a fun couple of weeks here at the Beast. After
a long, hard Buffalo winter spent slogging away, running on
fumes with little relief and few rewards, the last few days
have brought some cheer, and put some gas in our tank. Smiles
abound in the usually glum office today, and our regular cashflow
difficulties seem somehow less burdensome, almost funny.
you ask? Because we have seriously angered Tom Cruise. He’s
threatening to sue. Plus we were on Court TV last weekend.
you might wonder why we’re not shaking in our shelltoes, panicked
and apologetic the way almost any other publication would
be if the famously litigious Cruise fired a shot across their
bow. Well, maybe we’re just not aware of what we’re really
in for; that’s a genuine possibility. Part of it is the simple
fact that Cruise couldn’t possibly hope to collect any damages
from us, because we just don’t have any money. Certainly it
has already been a publicity coup for us, garnering national
exposure of a sort we couldn’t have hoped for, and promises
to deliver much more if the obsessively defensive Cruise follows
through on his threats. But frankly, we just think it’s damn
hilarious that an Oscar-winning, blockbuster-crapping star
like Cruise would find the time or energy to do battle with
a struggling independent satire paper in Buffalo. All week,
we’ve been spontaneously bursting into laughter just looking
at each other.
probably don’t know what we’re talking about, unless you’ve
caught any of the press on it, which was admittedly meager
relative to the grand cacophony of pop media. So here’s the
story so far.
* * * *
High Loathsome Sound
10th: Ignoring advice from Beast founder
Matt Taibbi to start the putatively annual "50 Most Loathsome
People in America" list three days earlier than he thinks
necessary, lethargic editor Al Uthman starts the 5,000-plus
word list a day before deadline.
11th: Uthman "finishes" the hastily
prepared list and immediately deems it an abject failure,
but puts it in the paper anyway, because impatient printers
are waiting. Tom Cruise’s entry at number thirty-nine is one
of the last and most quickly dashed off items. Here it is
in its entirety:
Inexplicable stardom. In a just world, Brendan Fraser would
get an Oscar before this carbon copy of every other rich
asshole cokehead with a fast car. Consistently influential
in casting women in his movies for the sole purpose of nailing
them. Extremely convincing when he plays an ambitious, superficial
Gun: Always plays an ambitious, superficial prick.
Caught in the act with Vin Diesel.
not very good, really. There could have been much better digs
at Cruise about his increasingly vocal support of the Church
of Scientology, or his "respect the cock" character
in Magnolia, for instance. At any rate, there it is. Certainly
the list contains much worse characterizations of many of
the other 49 listed (well, 48 actually—Uthman sloppily skipped
number 33), but no one else seems to have noticed, or maybe
their lives are simply too busy and rewarding for them to
give a shit what some tiny rust belt paper thinks of them.
14th—mid-February: Once posted on the web,
the Loathsome List takes on a life of its own, passed around
thousands of blogs, webforums and listservs, generating hundreds
of thousands of hits and thousands of e-mails from around
the world. People love the damn thing. A Google search
for "50 most loathsome people in America" currently
brings up about 78,200 webpages. Requests for subscriptions
grow to a steady trickle.
3rd: The Loathsome List is the topic of discussion
for over fifteen minutes on Air America Radio’s "Unfiltered."
Unfortunately, it is the most vapid, superficial treatment
imaginable, clearly revealing that the hosts, including "comedienne"
Lizz Winstead (whose Comedy Central standup feature is the
worst we’ve ever seen, and we’ve seen Jeff Foxworthy), haven’t
even skimmed the article. Worse yet, regular co-host and legendary
rapper Chuck D wasn’t even there. To help them discuss the
article, the show brings in horrible entertainment barnacle
Michael Musto of the Village Voice, who would have made an
excellent #33. No one in the studio seems to be aware that
initial Beast editor Matt Taibbi works at the New York
Press, the Voice’s main competition in New York City’s free
paper market. In fact, no one seems to be aware that the Beast
is a newspaper and not just a website. Despite the ostensibly
political nature of Air America, the "Unfiltered"
crew chooses to focus almost solely on worthless celebrities
like Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith. Then our website
goes down for a whole day, negating any possible positive
effect of the program.
* * * *
5th: It begins. Dickhead L.A. lawyer-to-the-stars
Bertram Fields pads his billable hours mailing an unintentionally
hilarious letter on behalf of Tom Cruise, naming just about
everyone on our masthead as respondents, demanding an apology
and making the ridiculous assertion that his entry in the
Loathsome list "can cause serious personal and professional
damage to Mr. Cruise."
23rd: The Beast responds by printing
Fields’ letter along with a less-than-serious response in
an attempt to goad Cruise into actually suing. The letter,
originally published in Beast issue 69:
OFFICES OF GREENBERG GLUSKER FIELDS CLAMAN MACHTINGER &
represent Tom Cruise. Your Issue #67 of "The Beast"
contains false, defamatory and malicious assertions about
Mr. Cruise. They include the following:
That Mr. Cruise is a "cokehead." This is utterly
false. He is not and never has been a "cokehead"
or even a cocaine user. In fact, his fiercely anti-drug
views are well known.
That Mr. Cruise consistently casts women "for the purpose
of nailing them." This too is completely false. Mr.
Cruise has never cast any actress for that purpose. He is
dedicated and professional in his work. He casts actresses
based on their acting ability and fitness for the role,
publicly issue such absurdly false statements, without the
slightest basis in fact, manifests an extraordinary level
of malice and the complete absence of any sense of journalistic
have made other false assertions about Mr. Cruise, such
as your juvenile ranting that he is an "asshole"
and is "loathsome." But, even though these assertions
are irresponsible and far from the truth, they may conceivably
be your opinions. If so, your reckless expression of such
opinions formed without the slightest knowledge on the subject
is reprehensible, even if not actionable.
false assertions numbered above, however, are not matters
of opinion. They are flat out, demonstrable lies. They can
cause serious personal and professional damage to Mr. Cruise.
limiting Mr. Cruise’s rights or remedies in any way, I must
ask that you issue an immediate retraction of your false
assertions about him in language which I approve on his
Charles Shephard, Esq. E. Barry Haldeman, Esq.
Beast’s reply, published in the same issue and sent
to Mr. Fields himself:
categorically deny your slanderous allegations that our
characterizations of Mr. Cruise are groundless. Mr. Cruise
has been spotted on several occasions enjoying the sweet,
refreshing taste of Coca-Cola. He even helped direct a commercial
for the syrupy beverage, starring Penelope Cruz, who, we
might add, he became romantically involved him following
her being cast opposite him in Vanilla Sky.
from Ms. Cruz, Mr. Cruise also became romantically involved
with Nicole Kidman after her being cast opposite him in
the traumatically awful Days of Thunder. The story goes
similarly with Rebecca De Mornay after Risky Business, and
let’s not forget that tryst with the unicorn from Legend.
apologize if we hurt Mr. Cruise’s feelings, but it may help
to know that not everyone here at the Beast thinks so poorly
of him. It is a well-known fact in the Beast offices that
our associate editor has a large poster of a shirtless Cruise
taped to the ceiling above his bed, which he masturbates
to vigorously on a regular basis.
know we could say more, Bertram; why not quit while you’re
answer is forthcoming from Fields.
* * * *
in the Water
11th: In an attempt to "get some mileage"
out of the Cruise letter after a lackluster response from
skeptical readers who understandably assume it is just another
Beast fabrication, Uthman submits the story to the
"Celebrity Justice" website using a false name and
posing as a casual Beast reader. Nothing immediately
happens, which is pretty much what we expected.
31st: Poetic justice—Air America’s "Unfiltered"
is cancelled in favor of a new show featuring trailer trash
icon Jerry Springer.
8th: Paydirt. Beast publisher Paul Fallon
receives a phone call from Holly Herbert, a "reporter"
for the Warner Brothers-produced TV show "Celebrity Justice."
Herbert thinks the website is hilarious. They’re sending a
cameraman down to do an interview, she tells him. They’re
in a hurry; the segment will air that night. Fallon calls
editor Al Uthman to inform him. Uthman drives down to the
office in disbelief. A cameraman arrives, subcontracted from
channel 7, with no interviewer. Left to speak for themselves
with no questions to respond to, Fallon and Uthman struggle
to think of something good to say on the spot, while stoic
co-editor Ian Murphy remains silent as always. Uthman says
something stupid about how having a paper means he can say
anything he wants, which will be quoted and repeated in every
subsequent article on the story, while more perspicacious
lines languish on the cutting room floor.
8th, 11:30pm: "CJ" Leads with the
Cruise/Beast story, which includes footage of several
Beast covers, the website, a smiling red carpet Cruise,
and Bertram Fields’ assessment of the Beast: "These
guys should be ashamed of themselves. They have no business
in journalism; they ought to be out of business. And maybe
we’ll decide to put them out of business by filing an appropriate
lawsuit." Fields displays a "tell" on the last
line, however; he looks away and uses the word "maybe,"
unconsciously giving away the fact that he knows he has no
case, and is probably using the story to help Cruise promote
his upcoming movie, War of the Worlds. Uthman realizes,
among other things, that he has really gotten fat.
9th: United Press International (UPI), a news
wire service, picks up the "CJ" story. It winds
up gracing the pages of several entertainment news websites
and the Washington Times, of all papers. Calls and
emails stream in from angry Cruise devotees and stunned Beast
associates, including an amusing voicemail from Kino Korner’s
Michael Gildea, who isn’t sure if he has fallen asleep on
the couch and dreamed the whole thing.
story disseminates through more blogs, webforums and online
publications. The tone is definitely bemused, and by far the
most common reactions online and at home are "what the
hell is up his ass?" and "how the hell did he wind
up reading the Beast?" Webhits at buffaloBeast.com
double, triple, and quadruple within hours, and continue to
10th: Requests for radio interviews come in
from Buffalo stations 103.3 "The Edge," 97 Rock,
and Ontario’s 105.1 "The River." Again, everyone
involved finds the story hilarious.
11th: Channel 7 (WKBW) recycles the footage
their cameraman took at the Beast office and produces
their own segment on the ‘controversy,’ including more footage
of Uthman and Fallon stammering their way through the segment
and some gratuitous clips from Mission: Impossible.
The teasers for the segment prominently feature lengthy shots
of the recent and much deplored "Schiavo: America’s Favorite
Vegetable" cover, to the amusement of the Beast
Buffalo News, adhering to their usual policy of denying the
Beast’s very existence, doesn’t cover the story despite
its local focus and obvious entertainment value.
13th: A camera crew arrives from Channel 23
(WNLO) and conducts another interview with Uthman. This time
he answers questions reasonably well, but the interview is
aired at 1am after a terrible music video on "Mise en
Place," a new show which hopes to supply Buffalo’s gaping
market for pretentious art magazine programs with poor production
values and French titles (these guys seemed cool, but seriously).
* * * *
all so far, but we’re committed to riding this ugly P.R. shit-monster
as far as it will take us. To this end, the paper before you
at this very moment contains many items designed solely for
the eyes of the detestable Mr. Cruise and his parasitic, Rumsfeld-like
mega-lawyer Bert Fields in an attempt to further goad them
toward bringing actual litigation against us. Somehow, these
assholes are going to make us famous, if we have any say in
the matter. Other operations are in the works, but nothing
has panned out yet—stay tuned for that.
closing, we’d like to opine on just what is to be learned
here. For one, a lesson Mr. Cruise would do well to absorb:
attacking everyone who has anything bad to say about you with
a phalanx of libel lawyers only serves to legitimize their
claims. In other words, every time Cruise sues someone who
says he’s gay, it makes him look gay. When he sued a gossip
columnist for saying he stuffed his drawers in Magnolia,
it would have made us all think he has a tiny package, if
we weren’t already suspicious. Suing us will only cause more
people to read our list, and cause many to wonder if he really
is a cokehead, whereas most would have casually dismissed
the comment as silly blather from an obvious misanthrope with
no claim to inside info on the star.
the record, we’d like to point out that we never said Cruise
was a cokehead, only that he has the personality
of a cokehead. His reaction has, to say the least, validated
that claim. As to the idea that he gets women cast in his
movies so he can bed them down, we’d think he would be grateful
for the hetero gossip after his $100 million dollar lawsuits
against German magazine Actustar and gay porn star
gratitude is not what we’re after. What we’re after is a full-scale
legal assault against us. We at the Beast are willing, if
not ready or able, to carry the torch of irresponsible journalism
into this new American millennium, to follow in the dirty
footsteps of bastards like Larry Flynt and fight for our right
to talk shit about public figures of all descriptions, whether
or not they are anal retentive control freaks with inferiority
complexes and intimacy issues who believe we are here on earth
because of a mass implanting policy instituted by the head
of the Galactic Federation.
will voluntarily sacrifice our time, energy, and obscurity
to do battle with this handsome, brainwashed millionaire and
his strange quest for "accuracy," and we will do
every interview and press conference necessary, no matter
how long it takes. And so, to Mr. Cruise and his Harvard-educated
attack dog Bertram Fields, we have this to say:
sue. Just do it. Sue, sue, sue. Do it. Go, go, go, go.