- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Cruise line

Tom Cruise, the biggest star on the planet and a well-known Scientologist, has a new cause he wants the public to know about: what he calls “the drugging of children.”

Children diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, he said in an interview with The Washington Times to promote “The Last Samurai,” are needlessly prescribed “lethal drugs” — Ritalin being the most prevalent — as a substitute for “proper education.”

In programs for which he volunteers, Mr. Cruise said, “we help them, through a doctor, come down off of these drugs … and suddenly they’re A students.”

Another problem with the country’s education system: Testing has reached epidemic proportions.

“I think we’ve reached a point,” Mr. Cruise continued, “where education is … tantamount to memorization — not the ability to take in data or information and differentiate that data so that you can then think with it and go out and apply it to your life.”

So that’s what we did wrong. If only we had differentiated that data the right way, we could have been movie stars.

Stars and strife

While Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean backpedals from comments he made about the Stars and Bars, the frontman of the British art-rock band Jethro Tull is having problems with another, less controversial flag: the Stars and Stripes.

In a posting on the band’s Web site, Ian Anderson spun his way out of a bilious rant he vented to the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey.

The offending quote, which bounced Tull off a local radio station’s playlist: “I hate to see the American flag hanging out of every bloody station wagon, out of every SUV, every little Midwestern house in some residential area.”

Mr. Anderson, according to Associated Press, now says his problem isn’t displays of the U.S. flag per se, but, rather, “the flag-waving mind-set.”

“I really didn’t understand — even after 35 years of visiting the USA on a regular basis — that this symbol had such fierce resonance for so many people as is now apparent to me,” Mr. Anderson said.

Though he opposes the U.S.- and British-backed war in Iraq, “I will always stand up to defend the honor and integrity of the American people, anytime, anywhere and in the face of anyone’s criticism,” he said.

“Anyway, I was out of line on the flag thing, and I am sorry for it,” he said. “I know I have forever lost some American friends as a result.”

Oscar talk

With the holiday season approaching, movie lovers look forward to what by now has become standard industry practice: the backloading of most of the major studios’ best movies.

The closer a movie’s release is to year’s end, the thinking goes, the better shot it has of nabbing an Oscar.

Billy Bob Thornton wishes things were different.

In an interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Thornton, who won a best-adapted-screenplay Oscar for “Sling Blade,” likened the increasingly compressed Oscar competition to a NASCAR race: The drivers who start at the back of the pack, no matter how fast they are, aren’t likely to make it to the front.

“If awards really do mean something,” he said, “then why don’t we make them mean something all year long?”

Leo not-so-great

Leonardo DiCaprio’s hopes of playing Alexander the Great are on hold.

A report in Daily Variety says producer Dino De Laurentiis has failed to pre-sell the Baz Luhrmann-directed project to Japanese investors.

The delay, according to the Internet Movie Database, means Mr. DiCaprio’s next movie is likely to see him reteam with Robert De Niro in “The Good Shepherd” after he wraps the Howard Hughes biopic “The Aviator.”

Meanwhile, a rival $150 million Alexander project, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie and Val Kilmer, is well under way.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff, wire and Web reports.

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