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Profiles of Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Cruise, Vanessa Carlton

Aired June 22, 2002 - 11:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he's become a Hollywood heavyweight on both sides of the camera.


MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: Just one of the people I admire from the first time I saw his movie "Sling Blade" and realized that he got it all.


ANNOUNCER: From the back roads of Arkansas to Angelina Jolie and one of Tinseltown's quirkiest couples.


LARRY SUTTON, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: They are not ashamed or afraid of showing their emotions in public.


ANNOUNCER: Now, he's taking his other love, rock 'n' roll to the masses.


BILL BOB THORNTON, ACTOR/WRITER/DIRECTOR/MUSICIAN: I guess I was always kind of a frustrated musician.


ANNOUNCER: On the road with Billy Bob Thornton.

Then, we've seen him sore in blockbuster after blockbuster.




ANNOUNCER: Now, he teams with another movie icon.


TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: And who doesn't want to work with Steven Spielberg.


ANNOUNCER: Tom Cruise on his latest flick, "Minority Report" and the other Cruz, Penelope.


BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Listen, do you want to remarry?


ANNOUNCER: Also, she's the 21-year-old songwriter who's making her way up the pop charts.


VANESSA CARLTON, MUSICIAN: I'm in one of those days of my life where I'm pretty fearless.


ANNOUNCER: Vanessa Carlton's journey from prima ballerina to pop-star. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

ARTHEL NEVILLE, GUEST HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. For Paula Zahn, I'm Arthel Neville. Now, if Billy Bob Thornton isn't working on a movie or spending time with his wife, Angelina Jolie, and their new adopted son, he's probably in his basement making music. Yeah, you probably thought Hollywood's quirkiest couple had a dungeon down there, shame on you. Here's Bruce Burkhardt.



THORNTON: Some folks called it a sling blade; I call it a Kaiser blade.


BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what Billy Bob Thornton is best known for, acting in films like "Sling Blade..."


THORNTON: You have to have some kind of plan to rob a bank.


BURKHARDT: ... or more recently, in the comedy-caper "Bandits" with Bruce Willis.


BRUCE WILLIS, ACTOR: So I get no phone calls, no alarms, please.


BURKHARDT: Well, Billy Bob is best known for acting and Angelina Jolie, their matching tattoos, the vials of blood and their other admitted eccentricities. Thornton and Jolie are almost as famous for their relationship as for their careers, even now making Hollywood gossip pages for a rumored break up, a split Thornton's publicist has denied.

But this is what Billy Bob Thornton has always wanted to be known for, his first love, his music.

THORNTON: You didn't even know his name...

I love music and I'm inspired by music more than anything else really. Often times in the entertainment field, you find that people who are actors would like to be rock stars and vice-versa sometimes. I guess I was always kind of a frustrated musician in a way.

She looked like an angel.

BURKHARDT: With the release of his first CD, "Private Radio" and a multi-city tour Thornton is no longer a frustrated musician. And unlike other actors, Thornton has made the segue from movie star to musician amid both critical and popular acclaim, playing to packed houses from L.A. to New York.

SUTTON: You know, Billy Bob has a number of fans. If you look on his Web site, for example, there's praise for the album from Tom Petty of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Robbie Robertson -- he used to be in The Band -- Daniel Lanois (ph), who a producer for Robbie Robertson. They all say he's got some pretty good stuff. They say that unlike a lot of other actors who go into the music business, he knows what he wants to do. He keeps it simple and they like his work.

THORNTON: Fortunately, you know, "Private Radio" has gotten quite a bit of respect. It's just the record has integrity. It's an honest record. I mean it's from my heart. It's not any kind of pop record. If I had wanted to make a vanity project, as you said, I would have made a far more commercial record than this one.


BURKHARDT: A mixture of good time country and 70s rock, Thornton's songs are at times very personal and very playful. And they're based on many of his own life experiences.

THORNTON: I used to have all these buddies that used to live with their mothers until they're about 40 and, they would just lay around and smoke dope and watch cartoons all day. Anyway, I wrote a song about those guys called "Smokin' in Bed." Well, lightening bugs buzzing around the piss elm tree. I'm a hundred pounds from reality and take a big drag and suck it all in. Blow it out the window...

BURKHARDT: Growing up in the south in Malvern, Arkansas, Billy Bob Thornton was naturally drawn to music, as were his friends, like Rick Dial, who still lives in Malvern and works at the local furniture store.

RICK DIAL, FRIEND: Back then if you could play three chords on a guitar, C, F and G, you could play half the songs that were popular back then. So there were a lot of bands in Malvern. As small as Malvern was, 10,000 people, there were probably 10 or 15 rock-n-roll bands. I was in one. Billy Bob was in one.

BURKHARDT: The Thorntons came to Malvern as Billy Bob entered the third grade. He grew up on this street, in this house, the oldest of three brothers.

THORNTON: I was kind of a goofball when I was a kid. Yes, sir. Oh, I was kind of a nerdy kid, you know, thick black glasses and buck teeth. I was kind of like Ernie Douglas on "My Three Sons," you know.

BURKHARDT: If Thornton was awkward and a bit shy in his formative years, he found confidence and a new passion in his teens while attending Malvern High School.

DIAL: I believe that probably his entrance into acting was through the high school drama club, where he excelled to say the least. I think back then -- I don't know if he took it as a lark or if he really, you know -- really wanted to do it, but it probably was the smartest move he ever made was when he entered the drama class at Malvern.

BURKHARDT: Whatever Thornton's budding talents, acting or music, Malvern was a small town and held little opportunity. Life beyond high school promised to be difficult at best. Thornton was poor and a long way from Hollywood and New York.

THORNTON: When I was growing up, I worked in a sawmill. I shoveled asphalt for the Arkansas Highway Department, worked at machine shop, worked at a drill press. I worked at a screen door factory.

BURKHARDT: And Thornton did those jobs while still playing music at night and on the weekends, touring with various small bands around the south. It was a grind that was going nowhere. Something had to give.

BURKHARDT: When the story of Billy Bob Thornton continues, a country boy heads to Hollywood and into the hospital. Why Thornton almost never got to make "Sling Blade."



CRUISE: I've never heard of him, but I'm supposed to kill him in less than 36 hours.


ANNOUNCER: Tom Cruise is a wanted man for different reasons than usual.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Minority Report" is lots of action, lots of gadgetry and Cruise smack dab in the middle.


ANNOUNCER: The king of Hollywood on the lam in this week's "Screen Scene" coming up on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.



BURKHARDT (voice-over): Billy Bob Thornton commands a crowd in L.A. these days, whether he's on tour promoting his first CD "Private Radio" or walking down a red carpet. But Thornton's overnight success was more than 10 hard years in the making.

THORNTON: Well, I just went to California in 1981 just to, you know -- I was leaving Arkansas and just trying to make something out of myself. Yeah, I got in a theater group, which the guy let me go for free because he knew I didn't have any money.

BURKHARDT: Already divorced, Thornton's struggles in Hollywood would cost him two more marriages and endanger his life. Longtime friends of Thornton back in his hometown of Malvern, Arkansas began to worry.

DIAL: I think he was out there probably 14 or 15 years doing just enough to get by. He worked at a Shaky's Pizza Place where he would get what was left over the day before to come back to his little apartment. He would eat nothing but potatoes for a long time and got really ill because all he had on his diet was potatoes.

BURKHARDT: Thornton was hospitalized with heart problems due to malnutrition. But even at his lowest, Billy Bob didn't consider returning home.

THORNTON: I mean, a lot of people say, "Why didn't you turn tail and run?" But I mean there wasn't really anything to go back to. I love Arkansas, but when I mean I was -- when I left to come to California, I was shoveling asphalt for the highway department. It wasn't like that was a great alternative, you know, as fun as that was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I see your license and registration?

BURKHARDT: Billy Bob Thornton's first critical success didn't come until 1992 when he co-wrote and starred in the small-budget film "One False Move" with his then-third wife, Cynda Williams.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands up!

THORNTON: Hey, calm down. You said, "Get out." You first, man, right?


BURKHARDT: That same year, Thornton would find steady work on TV thanks to fellow Arkansas natives Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth Thomason. The husband-and-wife producing team cast Thornton alongside John Ritter and Markie Post on the CBS sitcom, "Hearts Afire."


THORNTON: Ah, senator, I think you're coming in a little too early. I think you're wearing yourself down.


BURKHARDT: It was also during this time that Thornton began to flesh out the role that would catapult him to stardom, the character of Karl Childers, a mentally retarded man with a moral code all his own, the beginnings of "Sling Blade."

THORNTON: The actual physicality of the character I came up with in the mirror, just looking at myself in the mirror. It wasn't like I set out to come up with a character that day, but I was just kind of goofing off in the mirror and it was, you know, sort of a sad day. And I just ended up doing that character, that voice and the face and everything.

BURKHARDT: Thornton shopped his idea for "Sling Blade" around Hollywood for several years before Miramax agreed to take a chance on the film. Finally, Thornton had his backing. He was going to make his movie and he was going to make a totally unexpected call back to Malvern, Arkansas, to Orr's Furniture and Rick Dial.

DIAL: I was sitting here in the store one day and he calls me on the phone and says, "I've written a movie called 'Sling Blade.' We're going to shoot it in Benton and I've written a part with you in mind. I want you to be in the movie." And I said, "You're out of your mind." I said, "I can't do that, don't even ask me to do it." He said, "I'm going to send you a script." I said, "Well, you can send me the script, but I'm not going to do that."

So a couple days later, here comes the script in the mail. I read the script. And he calls and he says, "How'd you like the script?" I said, "Well, the script's fine, Billy Bob, but I'm not going to do this. I don't know nothing about acting." And he said, "Yeah, I know you can. I wrote it with you in mind." Finally, I decided, what the heck, you know. It's his money.


DIAL: How you coming along with that garden tiller?

THORNTON: I fixed it. It's working pretty good now.


BURKHARDT: Dial plays the owner of a small engine repair shop in "Sling Blade" where Thornton's character comes to work.

Music was never far from Thornton's thoughts during "Sling Blade." Beyond writing, directing and starring in the film, he also worked closely with record producer Daniel Lanois (ph) on the movie's score. "Sling Blade" was a labor of love that paid off beyond Thornton's dreams.

ROZEN: "Sling Blade" was clearly his breakthrough role. It was the first one that people -- the name "Billy Bob Thornton" started to mean something, and then he wins the Oscar for "Best Screenplay" and he was a star.

FREEMAN: Billy Bob was very sharp, very intelligent actor, just one of the people I admire from the first time I saw his movie "Sling Blade" and realized that he got it all.

BURKHARDT: Thornton was a hot commodity and marquee names were clamoring to work with him. Around Hollywood, he became known as the hillbilly Orson Wells.

THORNTON: And Robert Duvall sort of coined that phrase. He's always told people that. He says, "Yeah, hillbilly Orson Wells." I says, "Well, I don't know." So I was telling a friend of mine last night, I said, "You know Duvall called me a hillbilly Orson Wells. It looks like, you know, once again, I'm not worthy." But I said, "I may be more like the hillbilly Woody Allen because I'm so neurotic."


BURKHARDT: After his Oscar win for "Sling Blade," Thornton seemed to be everywhere. In 1997, he co-starred in Oliver Stone's "U- Turn."


THORNTON: Well, it's your radiator. It's busted.

SEAN PENN, ACTOR: I know that. What did I just tell you?

THORNTON: Well, chief, if you so damn much, why don't you just fix it yourself, hell.




BURKHARDT: A year later, Thornton made a departure from his smaller, offbeat roles in the summer blockbuster...


THORNTON: It's what we call a global killer, the end of mankind.

ROZEN: I think Billy Bob did "Armageddon" because it was a huge, high profile, Jerry Bruckheimer film. He was actually fine in it, but you do that because you go, "Hi, I'm a Hollywood player. I'm going to collect a nice big paycheck for this, and doing this film is going to allow me to do some smaller ones."

BURKHARDT: Thornton did return to smaller, independent films, in 1998, appearing in Robert Duvall's "The Apostle."


THORNTON: That was real good. The kids are good.

I'm just...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in the car.


BURKHARDT: Another film in 98, "A Simple Plan" garnered Thornton a Best-Supporting Oscar nomination.


THORNTON: Wait a minute! This is my decision.


BURKHARDT: By this time, Thornton was divorced from his fourth wife Pietra Cherniak.

SUTTON: Pietra was the wife who was by his side at the Academy Awards when he won the award for Best Screenplay. She was all smiles. He was all smiles, but it was a matter of weeks before there were rumors that he was seeing Laura Dern, who was his co-star in another movie. And he had denied them at first, saying there was nothing to it, but it turned out a few months later, yes, there was, and he left his wife for Laura Dern.

BURKHARDT: Thornton and Dern announced their engagement in 1999. They were going to marry later that year. But then came the movie "Pushing Tin" starring John Cusack and Angelina Jolie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then one by one, the stars were open wide.


BURKHARDT: When our look at Billy Bob Thornton continues, Billy Bob walks into an elevator and Angelina walks into his life. And then, things really get weird.




THORNTON: I walked into an elevator and you walked into a wall.

BURKHARDT: "Angelina" is one of the most personal songs on Billy Bob Thornton's "Private Radio." It's a love song and the story of how he met his fifth and most famous wife.

THORNTON: The song "Angelina" is a story. It's just about the way we met, and how we felt about each other and really just a thank you to her for my life.


BURKHARDT: Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie met while making the movie "Pushing Tin." By most accounts, it was love at first sight. But at the time, Thornton was engaged to actress Laura Dern. They were supposed to marry at the end of 1999. That wedding would never take place.

Thornton and Jolie eloped in Las Vegas in May of 2000. The star couple and their quirks quickly became fodder for the tabloids and the Hollywood rumor mill.

SUTTON: Well, one of the thing people say about Billy Bob and the love of his life, Angelina Jolie, is they are not ashamed or afraid of showing their emotions in public. In fact, it's rare that you a interview with the two of them where there not hugging, kissing, putting their hands all over each other. They're a very physical and they're happy to talk about their physicality too.


ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS: We wouldn't leave the bedroom.

BURKHARDT: Despite their very intense public and private relationship...

THORNTON: Uh-oh, he's getting artsy on me.

BURKHARDT: ... Thornton and Jolie have managed to maintain a sharp focus on their careers. Last year, Billy Bob not only wrote and produced his first record, he also starred in three highly acclaimed movies.

ROZEN: Billy Bob Thornton had an amazing 2001. When you look at the movies he did this year, there was no one doing better work at a higher level than Billy Bob Thornton between "The Man Who Wasn't There," "Monster's Ball" -- and "Bandits" was fun.

BURKHARDT: Thornton's performances in 2001 were so strong many were surprised that he wasn't nominated for an Oscar, especially since his co-star in "Monster's Ball," Halle Berry was not only given a nod by the Academy but also won.


THORNTON: What happened?

HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: I met your daddy.

THORNTON: Listen, just get out and talk to me.

BERRY: Get your hands off of me.


THORNTON: You can't do this. You, at least, got to give me a chance.


BURKHARDT: During Berry's tearful acceptance speech, she seemed to thank everyone but Thornton. It was an oversight Billy Bob took in trademark stride.

THORNTON: I ribbed her about it a little bit, you know. But she -- but I told her -- I said, "Listen, honey, believe me, I know. I've been up there. I know how everything goes out the window. It just all goes out."

BURKHARDT: Angelina Jolie has also remained busy since marrying Billy Bob Thornton. In addition to filming movies, she's thrown herself into her role as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nation Commissioner on Refugees, visiting camps in Thailand and other countries.

Jolie's work in Asia has had a profound effect on her and Billy Bob. After a visit to a Cambodian orphanage, the couple, this year, has adopted a son.

THORNTON: Of course, we just adopted this baby and he's another force that further stabilizes us as individuals and together and everything. And you know, when kids are in the picture, boy I tell you, it really changes your life.

BURKHARDT: The new edition to Thornton and Jolie's life also appears to have soured the couple's attitude toward the public's fascination with their relationship, a relation that even now is the subject of tabloid speculation over an alleged split.

THORNTON: You know we don't like it anymore. You know these days we want people -- especially she's a mother, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. THORNTON: I mean, she needs some respect. I actually called a guy one time that wrote something about me. And I said look, "That really hurt my feelings. You know you're kind of treading on some very sensitive territory there, you know."

BURKHARDT: Still Thornton is not opposed to talking about his now legendary phobias -- his uneasiness around antique furniture and his preoccupation with the positioning of certain objects.

THORNTON: And I have a lot of things about angles and things like that, you know, where I can't have certain angles pointing certain ways. You know, things like that. It occupies part of your day.

BURKHARDT: Thornton also isn't shy about the more gothic influences in his life -- growing up in the South and its haunting images and colorful personalities.

THORNTON: My mom is sort of a renowned psychic in the south, a lot of people, you know, used to come and see her.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I going to die?

CATE BLANCHETT, ACTRESS: No, you're not going to die.


BURKHARDT: Thornton even co-wrote a movie mostly based on his mother. "The Gift" is a southern supernatural thriller starring Cate Blanchett as a young psychic caught in a murder mystery.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you seeing something bad?

BLANCHETT: It's not clear.

THORNTON: OK, here we go.


BURKHARDT: While Thornton says his mother did predict certain aspects of his success, it's hard to believe that anyone could have foretold his road from Malvern, Arkansas to Hollywood. Not that Billy Bob cares what anyone else believes.

THORNTON: Because of my mother, I believe in everything.

Yeah, Angelina was coming...

BURKHARDT: For his part, Thornton seems content these days to respect the past, enjoy the present and hope for the best in the future. At 46, Billy Bob Thornton is an accomplished actor, writer and director and now musician. And not surprisingly, all he asks is that it continue if only for a little while.

THORNTON: I'd like to have three years in a row of just happiness. That will be great. That will be more than, I think, most people ever have, you know and certainly more than I've ever had. If I had three years in a row, that would be all right. Then I could check out and that'd be fine.

BURKHARDT: But until Billy Bob Thornton does check out, he plans to continue making more movies and more music and more follow-ups to "Private Radio."

THORNTON: Thank you very much.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up, he's one of Hollywood's biggest directors teamed up with one of Hollywood's -- come on, it's Tom Cruise.


CRUISE: You'll have to chase me.



STEVEN SPIELBERG, DIRECTOR: Oh, I would make another dozen film with Cruise.


ANNOUNCER: Spielberg and Cruise add another summer blockbuster to their resumes.



CARLTON: This is my first video.


ANNOUNCER: ... she's the new female sensation on the pop charts, 21-year-old songbird Vanessa Carlton. That and more when People in The News returns.


NEVILLE: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Now, you know when you're talking about summer blockbusters, it doesn't get any bigger than the pairing of Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg. Hollywood's hottest star and its hardest director have teamed up for the new movie, "Minority Report."

Set in the year 2054, "Minority Report" is a futuristic thriller that's both dark and timely. Bill Hemmer has this week's "Screen Scene."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not so high! Not so high!

HEMMER (voice-over): He's the director who invented the summer blockbuster with "E.T." and "Raiders of The Lost Ark." So what do you get had you pair him for first time with Hollywood's most bankable "Top Gun?"


CRUISE: OK, Jed, what's coming?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Red bull, double homicide, one male, one female. Killer is male, white, 40s.

CRUISE: Time frame?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirteen minutes.


ROZEN: I think everyone is eagerly anticipating "Minority Report" because you have Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg working together. Those are the two biggest names in show business.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got him in a foxhole, 4421 Gainsborough (ph).

CRUISE: Set up a parameter and tell them we're en route.


HEMMER: "Minority Report," Steven Spielberg's latest creation is a dark, futuristic, sci-fi who done it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you ready for this?

CRUISE: I'm ready.


HEMMER: Tom Cruise plays John Anderton, head of the D.C. crime fighting unit that specializes in predicting murders before they take place.


CRUISE: I'm placing you under arrest for the future murder of Sarah Marks.



CRUISE: No murders in the future, yet you see -- I don't want to give the story away -- but you see what happens. And that's -- you think, well, that is a good thing and it also reveals the other side of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say something, too?



HEMMER: Identified as a future killer, Cruise must go on the lamb to figure out who, if anyone is setting him up...

CRUISE: I've never heard of him, but I'm supposed to kill him in less than 36 hours.

HEMMER: And running is not easy in the state-of-the-art automated city where every step you take is monitored. Every car you drive controlled and every eyeball is used as eye-dentification. It's a world only Spielberg could bring to life.

SPIELBERG: Cut! Great shot! That was great!

CRUISE: He's Michael Jordan. He's Joe Montana. You know, he's Gretzky.

HEMMER: The film, based on a short story by sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, was actually spotted by Cruise and then sent to Spielberg.

CRUISE: I've been wanting to work with him. Who doesn't want to work with Steven Spielberg? And so, I sent it to him and I was waiting, going, "Man, what does he think? What does he think?"

SPIELBERG: He sent me the short story and he said -- you know, he said, "This is a short story I love by Phillip K. Dick." And I read and I was really hooked by the premise.


CRUISE: Why'd you catch that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it was going to fall.

CRUISE: You're certain?


CRUISE: But it didn't fall. You caught it. The fact that you prevented it from happening doesn't change the fact that it was going to happen.


SPIELBERG: A light switch.

He's so easy to direct, you know, because he's so responsible to everything and he comes so well prepared. And then, when I kind of stepped into his preparations -- I have a few days of my own -- he went with it. It was a great collaboration.

HEMMER: Twenty-one years in the business, three Oscar nominations, 24 films grossing more than $2 billion, it seems all of Tom Cruise's collaborations have been great.

ROZEN: Tom Cruise is unquestionably the biggest movie star out there now. Why do we love him so much? Because he has that indefinable it. He has it and it was apparent almost from the start.

HEMMER: Thomas Cruise Mapother IV was born in Syracuse, New York in 1962. By the time he was 12, he attended more than a dozen schools and witnessed the breakup of his parents' marriage. Living with his mother and three sisters, he discovered theater in high school.

ANNE-MARIE O'NEILL, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: He left the wrestling team because he had a knee injury and as a different extracurricular activity, he decided to go into the school play, which was "Guys and Dolls." And that's when he suddenly thought, "Hey, you know, this acting thing is not bad."

HEMMER: Heading to Los Angeles and losing his last name, Tom Cruise made his film debut in the 1981 Brooke Shields bomb "Endless Love."

CRUISE: Did you ever try to light a whole pile of wet newspapers? Jesus, it smokes like crazy.


Your presence is requested in the hallway.


HEMMER: That same year, Cruise landed in the film "Taps." Originally cast in a minor role, the director had been impressed by his boot camp rehearsals, bumping young Cruise to a supporting character.

ROZEN: You noticed him there. You noticed him in "The Outsiders."


CRUISE: Hey, tell me, Ponyboy, what's it like being a hero, huh?

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROZEN: But "The Outsiders" had Matt Dillon and I think, Emilio Estevez. It had all these guys who you were thought were all going to be stars and it wasn't like you necessarily thought Tom Cruise was going to be the biggest one.

And then "Risky Business" happened and it was like he's the one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just take those old records off the shelf...


HEMMER: Whether it was the slide, or the song, or the oxford and briefs, his breakout lip-synching performance in 1983's "Risky Business" cemented his standing as Hollywood's up and comer.

O'NEILL: And in his private life, he was also in love. He met Rebecca DuMornay and they moved in together for a couple of years.

HEMMER: Young, in love and full of potential, by 1986, Cruise moved from boy-next-door to matinee idol in this 80s signature classic.


CRUISE: I feel the need...

ANTHONY EDWARDS, ACTOR: ... the need for speed!


O'NEILL: "Top Gun" really is still what a lot of people think of when they think of Tom Cruise.

ROZEN: He played this flyboy hero. He had this hot romance with his slightly older female instructor.

KELLY MCGILLIS, ACTRESS: I was afraid that everyone in that tax trailer would see right through me. And I just don't want anyone to know that I've fallen for you.

O'NEILL: "Top Gun" made Tom Cruise a sex symbol overnight.

HEMMER: His maverick antics made "Top Gun" a blockbuster in theaters. Not only did audiences fall under his spell, so too did actress Mimi Rogers, six years his senior.

O'NEILL: The relationship with Mimi Rogers did not last a long time. It was only a three-year marriage.

HEMMER: By 1989, tabloids began to take interest in the marriage. Cruise would later blame the divorce on his hectic schedule, six films in only three years' time. And several of those films opposite some of the biggest names in the business -- Paul Newman in "The Color of Money" and Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "RAINMAN")

CRUISE: Raymond! Raymond! Raymond! You never, never touch the steering wheel when I'm driving. Do you hear me?


CRUISE: Do you hear me?

HOFFMAN: Of course, I don't have my underwear.


HEMMER: Newman and Hoffman would both take home Oscars for their performances. And Cruise would get his own shot in 1989 playing Ron Covic, a paralyzed Vietnam vet in "Born on The Fourth of July."

By early 1990, Cruise finalized his divorce to Rogers. And that same year, in December, married Australian actress Nicole Kidman. The two met on the set of "Days of Thunder."


CRUISE: How could you ignore me like that?

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: I wasn't ignoring you.


HEMMER: The film tanked at the box office but their chemistry sizzled.

And if the 80s had been the decade of Cruise, the 90s would be the decade of Tom and Nic. Every red carpet, every premiere there they were. The two would become Hollywood royalty, the marriage, the love affair. Paparazzi could hardly get enough.

O'NEILL: They were like the king and queen. They'd turn up on the red carpet and everyone would focus on them.

HEMMER: The couple worked together again in Ron Howard's 1992 epic, "Far and Away."


KIDMAN: Stay right where you are.


HEMMER: And by the mid 90s, Cruise seemed unstoppable.


CRUISE: Show me the money!

(END VIDEO CLIP) HEMMER: His role as a sports agent teetering on the edge in 1996's "Jerry Maguire" garnered a Golden Globe and another Oscar nod. The Cruise machine was in Cruise control but there were speed bumps ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They did a bad, bad thing.


HEMMER: Kidman and Cruise would spend close to three years working on their third film, the late Stanley Kubrick's, "Eyes Wide Shut."

KIDMAN: It's been a wonderful three years.

HEMMER: And at the 1999 premiere, as always, all eyes were on them...


HEMMER: ... which made the announcement even more shocking. In February 2001, publicists announced the couple's joint separation, Cruise filed for divorce only days later.

O'NEILL: Why did Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman break up? It's the burning question still and it's something that everyone wants to know.

HEMMER (on camera): One thing I remember from the breakup with Nicole was that both of you had said, "We live extremely busy lives" and it appeared that the demands on your time was taking away from your relationship.

CRUISE: Well, no, I'm not going to discuss any of that or what it is or speculation. That is something that is between the two of us.

HEMMER: I understand.

CRUISE: It's done. It's over. It's happened. You know, it's been over a year now. And it's finished. And that part of our relationship and -- but that's between Nic and I. And forever, I will never discuss that.

O'NEILL: Nicole Kidman maintains to this day that she doesn't know why and he maintains yes, she does know why. And that is the way it ended.

HEMMER: Do you think you came away with a life lesson...

CRUISE: Oh, absolutely.

HEMMER: ... out of that? CRUISE: Yeah, yeah. I mean, there is so many wonderful things, you know. I'm someone -- I don't complain. I don't talk about -- it's just not who I am. I just -- I like to remember all of the wonderful things that we had together and look to the future in terms of the wonderful things that we still share together.

HEMMER (voice-over): It's been a tough couple of years for Cruise, dodging tabloid reports on everything from his sexuality to his latest companion, "Vanilla Sky" co-star Penelope Cruz.


CRUISE: That smile is going to be the end of me.


HEMMER (on camera): Do you want to remarry?

CRUISE: I am a romantic and I think that I'm a monogamous, you know. And I like that relationship with a woman and it's something that -- it's -- I have nothing planned in the future.

HEMMER: You have not been too private with your relationship with Penelope.

CRUISE: Well, I'm very happy. It's something that it's -- we're together, you know. How do we -- you know, and I don't feel like running around. If I date, you know, if we're together, they kind of -- you know, it's hard not to -- you know, what do you do? Everywhere you go, they know.

HEMMER: Does that bother you?

CRUISE: No because, listen, the relationship we have is wonderful. And I'm enjoying it.

HEMMER (voice-over): And industry insiders are betting that audiences will enjoy Cruise's latest. And it looks like the Spielberg/Cruise duo might join forces again sometime soon.

SPIELBERG: OK, now we do the stunt.

Oh, I would make another dozen films with Cruise.

CRUISE: Good. Well, I'll do two dozen more with him.

SPIELBERG: That's all I need. Thank you. Great! Very good.


ANNOUNCER: Ahead, on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, from prima ballerina to premiere musician.


CARLTON: I thought I'd just skip my ballet classes to write songs, you know.


ANNOUNCER: A new spotlight shines on Vanessa Carlton when we return.



NEVILLE: Well, she doesn't do it anything like Britney, but that doesn't mean Vanessa Carlton isn't make something noise on the pop charts these days.

Coming up, a young singer/songwriter with a serious mind and a serious hit, but first, here is this week's "Passages."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Legendary sports broadcaster Jack Buck died in St. Louis after a long illness. Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Buck started out broadcasting Ohio State basketball games in 1954, but baseball would be his calling. Buck would become a broadcasting icon after replacing the late Harry Carey in 1969 as the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals. For over 30 years, he called some of baseball's most memorable moments.

JACK BUCK, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS BROADCASTER: Here it comes McGuire. Swing! Over there! Look at that!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He also called plays for the old AFL and did radio broadcast for Monday Night Football. Jack Buck was 77.

BILLY JOEL, MUSICIAN: Take a holiday from the neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Piano man, Billy Joel, has jumped off his summer mega tour with Elton John and into a Connecticut rehab center. Joel's publicist says the singer entered Spring Hill Hospital last week for personal problems. Local newspaper reports the uptown boy checked into the high-rent center for chemical dependency.

The 53-year-old is in good company though. Liza Minnelli, Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey have all spent time at Spring Hill.

JOEL: I'm moving out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amy Fisher has spent a lot of time in the pen, but now she has a job using one. The Long Island Lolita will be writing a celebrity interview column for a local biweekly newspaper. The new scribe for the "New Island Ear" will see her work appear starting July 3.

The first celebrity interview will be with Mark McGrath of the pop band Sugar Ray. Now, no word if Fisher will be paid in cash, check or cartons of cigarettes.

To get more celebrity news in your joint, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week. We'll be right back.



NEVILLE: When singer Vanessa Carlton first started shopping her music around a few years ago, record executives didn't exactly embrace the young artist and songwriter with open arms. They just wanted to know -- could she dance like Britney Spears. Well now, she's one of our "People To Watch." Here's Kyra Phillips.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You may have seen her music video. It's all over MTV.


CARLTON (singing): Making my way downtown, walking fast, faces past. And I'm home bound.


PHILLIPS: And you probably heard her song on the radio. It's been heating up the charts for past 16 weeks.


CARLTON: If I could fall into the sky...


PHILLIPS: Vanessa Carlton is only 21, but she's gaining national attention with her first album. The title "Be Not Nobody" actually came to her in a dream.

CARLTON: It resonates a freedom to me that, you know, coming from a ballet school that was very -- artistically, it was so structured and I don't think art, you know, lends itself to structure in any way.

PHILLIPS: Vanessa was born on August 16, 1980 in the small town of Milford, Pennsylvania.

CARLTON: I loved every minute of it, growing up in a small town. I spent most of my time playing in the woods. And, you know, I went to a Montessori school for a majority of elementary school.

PHILLIPS: Some of her earliest memories revolve around music thanks to her parents.

CARLTON: My parents are the reason why I play music. My mom is a pianist and she taught me to play. She introduced me to the instrument. And my father -- actually, he's a pilot, but he's a wanna-be fiddler. He loves the violin.

PHILLIPS: Vanessa's mother encouraged her to experiment with music.

CARLTON: It was formal training but in an informal way. You know I would be learning this structured, classical pieces, but I would to improvise on them and kind of make my own variations of what I was playing and she never corrected me. She let me do it.

PHILLIPS: But her piano training would take a back seat to a new passion. Vanessa began to take ballet lessons. She seemed born to dance.

CARLTON: I was accepted into the School of American ballet when I was 14. I thought that's the way things were going to go. You know, I was going to be a professional ballerina for the rest of my life.

PHILLIPS: At 14, this small town girl moved to New York City to live on her own and study at the prestigious ballet school. Vanessa eventually became disheartened.

CARLTON: My first two years there were OK. My last two years were very frustrating for me as an artist. I had trouble feeling comfortable in the atmosphere at the school. They separated art from the technique and I was very confused, very frustrated as an artist. I started to skip my ballet classes to write songs. That's when I knew that things were going to take a different turn.

PHILLIPS: At 17, Vanessa left ballet school, started waitressing and submerged herself in her first love, music. She played gigs whenever she could around the city.

CARLTON: It was quite a growth period for me. I wrote a lot. And I learned a lot about myself during those couple of years.


And I need you...


PHILLIPS: In 2000, Vanessa signed with A&M Records. She says it was the one opportunity she had to be herself and play the songs that she wrote.

On April 30 of this year, "Be Not Nobody" was released. Vanessa wrote all but one of the songs on her debut album.

CARLTON: I think there is definitely a lot of autobiographical stuff on the album. At the same time, there is those -- you know, those times where you kind of put yourself in somebody else's shoes.

PHILLIPS: Now in the spotlight and garnering much more attention, Vanessa still manages to stay grounded.

CARLTON: It's funny, the other day; someone was asking me, like, "Vanessa, is your head still on your shoulders?" You know. And I was like, "I went horseback riding the other day and I got a nice big chunk of horse manure kicked into my face and it's like -- I mean, it just has such a unique way of just slapping you right back into reality."

PHILLIPS: And with her talent and honest lyrics, she has a style to brand all her own.

CARLTON: I, at the moment, I'm in one of those states in my life where I'm pretty fearless. It was hard for me to get to this place. There was a lot of rocky years in there. It's really hard to grow up. I'm still growing up but I feel comfortable with every part of me.


NEVILLE: All right, that's going to do it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. For Paula Zahn, I'm Arthel Neville. Thanks for joining us.





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