May 31, 2005 -- You could bring in the world's greatest pinchers to do their business on me and I'd still think I was dreaming. Did I hear this right … that Tom Cruise says he's "madly in love" with Katie Holmes and eager to walk her down the aisle?
I say two things: OUCH! (from the pinching) and PULEEAASE! (from the sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing).
The notion of an older man (he's 42) dating a younger woman (she's 26) is nothing new or unusual. What is unusual is Cruise's over-the-top behavior, and it makes the whole romance suspect, to say the least.
His story, which he is so eager to tell (clue No. 1 that this is strange) is that he had a keen interest in her, called her up, had some conversations, and the next thing you know, she's his girlfriend.
The deal is, Cruise and Holmes had never even met until April when he called her, invited her to his office and spent four hours chit-chatting. He asked her out for sushi, according to US Weekly. The sushi date, by the by, was on his private jet at a "cruising" altitude of 15,000 feet. After din-din, they went for a motorcycle ride and a walk on the beach. By the end of the month, they were off to Rome for Italy's version of the Oscars and she was close by his side as they dined with dignitaries
And then … they're everywhere. They're vacationing in Mexico. They're kissing on the cover of every magazine and universally declared Hollywood's hottest couple (although she always looks like a deer in the headlights instead of a woman being wooed).
Then, last Monday, the Big Kahuna sits down with Oprah to coo about his relationship, and Holmes pops out of the green room just to mouth, "I love you" to him on camera.
Her story is that she split from fiancé Chris Klein in January, after five years together. In recent months, she'd been romantically linked to Josh Hartnett. Then, Cruise calls her up, they talk for hours on end, day after day, and that was it. They were head-over-heels.
It didn't hurt that secretly, as a young teen (ehem … not so long ago), after seeing him in "Risky Business," she dreamed of being married and Cruise would be her groom. It's the Melissa Gilbert/Bruce Boxleitner scenario all over again! Every girl does it. For me, it was Leif Garrett on "Family." (Thank God I didn't pursue the romance … Look at him now!)
Whispers, Rumors, Poppycock and 'Hamlet'
Hollywood's now flooded with cocktail party rumors. Gossip columnists have been chewing over whispers that Cruise originally had a list of young women he was looking to date and another Kate -- Kate Bosworth -- topped the list.
Cruise's camp denies that report (Bosworth's issued a "no comment").This would hardly be worth mentioning were it not for Cruise's love life seeming ever so strange.
Here's what doesn't add up for me: Cruise is a megastar who has tried to remain oh-so-private through his two failed marriages and other serious relationships. He's a huge follower of Scientology and has insulated himself from the media as much as possible throughout his years of celebrity. Now, all of the sudden, he's hopping up and down on Oprah's couch telling the world how "cool" Holmes is and how he's "so in love" and "too happy" to control his emotions -- and -- considering marriage after two short months.
We've heard the saying, "The lady doth protest too much." It goes all the way back to Shakespeare's "Hamlet," and it's come to describe any person we think is phony (male and female), who tries to hide his phoniness by acting, well, really, really phony.
It sure seems to me, as I was watching him go overboard on Oprah, that Cruise "doth profess too much." He has made a 180 degree turn on his public pleas for privacy. He's taken every opportunity to have the public see him and Holmes together and every time a camera is present, he's on his tip-toes trying to land one on her smacker.
Cruise is answering questions about the relationship before they're even asked. What makes a private celebrity go freakishly public after 20 years in the business?
Some would suggest this is a publicity stunt to boost his upcoming film, "War of the Worlds," but I'm not so convinced that's the case. After all, his last few films, "Collateral," "The Last Samurai" and "Minority Report," did extremely well at the box office. "Collateral" and "Samurai" also saw critical acclaim with Oscar nominations, though not necessarily for Cruise.
PR Machine in Overdrive?
Still, I don't think acting like a teenager who's copped his first feel is the modus operandi to the Oscar win he may be seeking. No, there's definitely another motive here.
Is it publicity for Holmes who's about to embark on an international tour for the opening of her new flick, "Batman Begins"? Don't think so. People who go to see "BB" are going for the movie itself, not for Holmes.
So what then?
There is, of course, the fact that she's a self-proclaimed virgin and Tom Cruise has been rumored to be less than interested in sex. Mimi Rogers, his first wife, once told Playboy that Cruise considered being a monk and felt that having sex would hinder his desire for purity. If both these things are true, it certainly would make Holmes the perfect platonic partner.
Using my female intuition (I only take it out for special occasions!) I have to believe something more is asunder. I predict there's going to be some very damaging information about Mr. Cruise that will be exposed in the very near future. Perhaps this secret, in tandem with the real reason Penelope Cruz gave him the big shove-off, has caused the PR machine to go into overdrive and force Cruise to become a romantic goofball.
We shall find out soon enough.
Either Cruise and Holmes will endure, and their relationship will become another one of those crazy Hollywood love stories, or the number two will soon hit the fan and all will be revealed.
My guess … you might want to put on a hat!
Heidi Oringer is director of entertainment programming at ABCNEWS Radio.