The Girl Next Door
You Cruise, You Lose
Tom's Missus Katie Holmes A B'way Miss
By Michael Riedel
WHEN it comes to the Broadway box office, the current Mrs. Tom Cruise doesn't have a patch on the former Mrs. Tom Cruise.
Katie Holmes, who'll star in the revival of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" this fall, may be a nice little actress, but so far she's not much of a draw, say sources involved in the production who are beginning to fret that ticket sales aren't as strong as they'd hoped.
"Where are all the Scientologists? Don't they want to see her?" jokes one person, who requested anonymity for fear that the followers of L. Ron Hubbard would hunt him down and make him read all 10 volumes of "Mission Earth."
Ticket brokers and group sales agents, who at one point thought Holmes would be this season's Julia Roberts - who pretty much sold out "Three Days of Rain" in One Day of Rain - say interest in the Holmes show is nil.
"I bought 1,000 tickets to the show," says one broker. "I still have them."
The advance for "All My Sons," which opens in September, is said to be less than $1 million.
Contrast that with the $4 million advance Cruise's ex-wife Nicole Kidman racked up in 1998, when she made her Broadway debut in David Hare's "The Blue Room."
Kidman was not, it must be remembered, a big star in her own right back then. But because she was (1) very good in the play and (2) naked (for about a minute), she set the town on fire. Scalpers were getting $700 for seats in the balcony - even after critics gave the production lukewarm reviews.
Kidman ended up on the cover of Newsweek. Her movie career took off largely as a result of the publicity she received for "The Blue Room."
Insiders say there are several reasons why Holmes is trailing Kidman at the box office.
"I think if she takes off her clothes, she may catch up," jokes one wag.
As pretty Ann Deever, who loved a pilot killed in World War II, Holmes will remain fully attired in a 1940s skirt and sweater throughout the evening.
It also doesn't help that her husband isn't nearly as popular as he was in the 1990s, when magazines touted him as the biggest movie star in the world.
At the time of "The Blue Room," Cruise and Kidman were also about to open in the steamy Stanley Kubrick movie "Eyes Wide Shut."
Not a great film, to be sure - but one that generated a lot of attention.
These days, Cruise is still trying to live down his couch dance on "Oprah."
Holmes, meanwhile, is in the public eye only because she's Mrs. Tom Cruise.
(By the way, Cruise has been putting out feelers to theater producers about doing a play at some point. He's in career recovery, which usually means a visit to Broadway at some point.)
Holmes is also up against a troubled economy, which, several ticket brokers say, is starting to take its toll on Broadway.
"People aren't shelling out $110 for a play anymore," says a broker. "It doesn't matter who's in it."
Backstage at "All My Sons," the buzz is that the cast has been forced to sign confidentiality agreements. The Scientology minders in charge of Holmes apparently don't want any press they can't control.
Given the lackluster sales for "All My Sons," I would remind them that beggars can't be choosers.