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Tom's Double Trouble

posted by Mickey on 10/09/02

OMG Isn’t that Mickey over there?

There is a magazine in Australia called “New Idea.” I don’t read it regularly. Usually I wait until a relative is dying, and then catch up with a whole lot of back issues in the waiting room of the hospital. When I saw that the cover story of this week’s edition, however-


- I was cursing the general good health the von Hangman clan is currently enjoying, since it meant I was going to have to stump up $3.50. This article promised such fantastic journalism I think the newsagent may have detected a little gleam of lunacy in my eye as I peeled off a bill, and he may even have backed away from me a little while giving me my change, especially since I was probably shaking uncontrollably when I noticed the story was subtitled:

“The RIVAL factions call a TRUCE for their first FAMILY summit … but it all ends in DISASTER. PLUS: Pene’s bond with Enrique Iglesias.”

After I bought the magazine, I decided I would match the quality of my reading experience with some fine dining. Food for the soul, AND food for the belly. Consequently, I took my magazine with me to the nearest Burger King restaurant and placed an order for a vegieburger meal, so I would have an opportunity to assimilate a nutritious meal and all the scandalous details of Cruz/Kidman/Cruise ménage at the same time. I like to think I am the kind of guy who doesn’t mind throwing some money around, when a cordon bleu experience is in the offing, so when the waitress spoke to me, apparently in a remote aboriginal dialect, the following dialogue ensued:

WAITRESS. Duyawannanupgrade?

VON HANGMAN. I beg your pardon.

WAITRESS. Yawannalarchips?

VON HANGMAN. Larchips?

WAITRESS. Yelarchips.

VON HANGMAN. Large chips?

WAITRESS. Yeyawannem? Costunextra 50 cents. Yagettalargelemonadetoo

VON HANGMAN. Hell, why not?

I carried my tray and my “New Idea” to a booth where I could sit back on the red vinyl upholstery and watch the pedestrian traffic on George Street in between paragraphs, just in case the narrative got too intense to read through without an odd pause here and there for me to sit there with my mouth open. I turned to the appropriate page, and read the first sentence of the article.

“The plan was to have a relaxing break.”

Boy, let me tell you, that sentence had me hooked. There is one thing you can know for certain when you read a sentence like that, and that is, the story that follows isn’t going to be about how, according to plan, a relaxing break was had by all, and how everyone walked away saying, “You know, we really should do this more often”. No way!! That sentence is a set-up, like having a couple of guys carrying a sheet of plate glass in a slapstick comedy and you just know the glass is going to get smashed but its a question of when and how and in what manner and whether anyone’s head is going to be decapitated to make it even more hilarious. If the article that followed was about how copasetic the so-called “relaxing break” turned out to be, I would have been demanding the money back from my newsagent. Hell, I would have been seeking legal advice about what my chances would be if I sued Michael Baskin and Joy Pascale, the authors of the piece, for misrepresentation, false advertising, and fraud. The plan was to have a relaxing break, indeed. Who was the foolishly deluded author of this plan? Exactly which dumbass thought this was going to a relaxing break? Relaxing break my foot! What I wanted to read all about was a pair of spoiled Hollywood broads conducting a no-holds-barred, hair-pulling, tit-grabbing, mewling, spitting, knocking-over-the-trashcans alley-cat-style bitch-fight.

OK, I know you are all as keen for the juicy details as I am, so what follows is basically a condensation of the article. I’ve glossed it slightly, because I wouldn’t be surprised to see this baby pick up some major journalism awards, and it deserves some comment.

“’It’s war!’ say an insider. ‘They may have started being civil to each other but that’s out the window now.’”

If there is one thing I like to read, when I am catching up on a story of this sort, is that I am getting an insider’s perspective. I don’t want to be reading a lot of idle speculation. I don’t want to suddenly learn that Baskin and Pascale have made the whole thing up. I want the inside stuff, the good oil, a properly sourced piece of journalism.

Baskin and Pascale (names with a certain, I don’t know, Woodward and Bernstein feel to them) have clearly planted a mole deep within the Cruz/Kidman/Cruise family circle, one who is quite prepared to betray the most intimate feelings of his or her purported friends because, goddamn it, the information he or she is getting out is in the public interest. I can understand, and appreciate the preservation of The Insider’s anonymity. Hell, it’s exciting!! It implies that the operative is still out there, with his or her cover still intact, against all the odds, still digging for fresh insights into the domestic life of these celebrities, a spy who hasn’t yet come in from the cold. So, who is Deep Throat in the Cruz/Kidman/Cruise Whitehouse i.e. Tom’s retreat in Aspen, Colorado. There are a number of suspects:

SUSPECT #1. Von Hangman. As a Kidman insider, it would be disingenuous if I didn’t acknowledge that a lot of people are going to be putting two and two together and will be thinking, “Well, what is this post all about anyway? This could be an elaborate smokescreen. Perhaps Mickey himself is the mole within the Kidman camp.” But it wasn’t me. I’ve never been to Aspen, Colorado. Look, I’ve just pulled up a website containing the text of the bible, and minimized it. OK, I’ve got my finger on the website icon, so I am swearing on The Good Book here, and I am saying, “I am not The Insider.” Satisfied?

Happier times. From l-r. Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Von Hangman (partially obscured), the Princess of Wales, and Steffi Graf, at a Scientology fundraiser

SUSPECT # 2. Russell Crowe. He is the obvious choice. A couple of year’s ago he scored an Academy Award best-actor nomination for playing the eponymous hero of a movie called “The Insider”, for goodness’ sake. He is a friend of the family. On the cover of a rival magazine it emerges that he has been having a torrid affair with Nicole Kidman, which “New Weekly” (I think it was) describes as “Hollywood’s best kept secret”. Given the amount of newsprint spilled on speculation about this liaison over the couple of years, I would hate to see Hollywood’s worst kept secret.

TOM CRUISE. Russ, I feel like you are the only one I can really trust. I want to open up to you about my most intimate secrets and feelings. RUSSELL CROWE. Of course, Tom. You know I am there for you, mate. I’ll just, ah, do something with the record button on this tape recorder.

SUSPECTS #3-5.. One of the principles themselves. Frankly, this seems unlikely. Nicole Kidman sued “New Idea” magazine last year when they published what purported to be an exclusive interview with her that turned out not to exist. This whole business of pretending to hold conversations with Nicole Kidman without actually doing so is too shabby for words. It is the sort of thing to which this writer, for instance, would never stoop.

After suing “New Idea” would Nicole really be wanting to get her messages to the world about the current state of her relationships with Tom and Penelope out by putting on a pair of dark glasses and holding clandestine meetings with Baskin and Pascale in an underground carpark, or on a Ferris Wheel, or wherever? I doubt it. And even if it was her (to get ahead of the story just a little bit) would she be telling them about how her eyes were bulging out when she was screaming at Penelope? No, we can discount this one out of hand. The only thing that makes it a possibility at all is that it is so unlikely. After all, who would suspect? Next time the three of them are together, Nicole could be storming about the place again, eyes bulging like they’re about to pop out of their sockets, and she could even go on and on about how maybe she will sue “New Idea” again, and no one would even think of putting the finger on her.

Was Penelope Cruz The Insider? Once again, it seems unlikely, unless for some reason that we can’t appreciate (yet) she particularly wanted everyone in Australia (and by extension, the world) to know that she is a gutter-mouthed, raving, conniving harridan.

The freewheeling Tom Cruise

That leaves only one other possibility. Was it Tom Cruise himself who wanted to make all this public, air his own dirty linen. This obviously holds a bit more water than the Nicole or Penelope explanations, but I don’t think it really holds up when you look at what The Insider has actually revealed. For instance, here is what The Insider has to say about the lengthy Australian redheaded dumpee and the foulmouthed, doe-eyed, man-poaching Iberian spitfire:

“’They met for the first time a few months ago, and no one really knew what would happen, but that meeting went well. Tom was thrilled with the outcome of that first encounter.

“’But first impressions aren’t always a good guide to what the future relationship may hold – and Tom apparently forgot he had two professional actresses on his hands.

“’They were on their best behaviour. But that couldn’t last- and it didn’t’.”

Now if Tom was really The Insider, the way he must have said that to Baskin and Pascale would have been something like this: “I was thrilled with the outcome of that first encounter, but I apparently forgot I had two professional actresses on my hands.” Listen, Tom Cruise is just not going to say that. It would be like saying, “I am a total jackass.” How the hell is Tom Cruise going to forget he has two professional actresses on his hands? It isn’t like this guy normally goes out with plumbers. Nope. The Insider, whoever he or she was (probably Russell Crowe) wasn’t one of the central parties (except, at a stretch, one of the women playing a dark, deep, devious, dangerous game).

That’s enough on the identity of The Insider. Let’s have a look at what he or she witnessed. To set the scene, they are staying in this monstrous house in Aspen. There’s no picture of it, but I imagine it looks just like the house in which Nicole lives in “The Others,” except with a swimming pool. In fact, I imagine her roaming around, with bulging eyes, pulling curtains to try to keep all the light out. Textual evidence for this? None. The house is so big that people can walk around for days without bumping into one another. Hey, what about that? Imagine living in a house where you could wander aimlessly and not bump into another celebrity for days. But it seems like the house was not big enough for both of the feisty actresses. The first major catfight occurred after Nicole found out that Penelope had been playing with the kids in the pool and had let them dive into it.

‘”Penelope had the children with her in the pool and encouraged them to dive headfirst in to the deep end. But when Nicole heard that her children had been diving, she went ballistic,’ says the source.

Actually when I scanned that at first I thought it said that when Nicole found out the kids had gone ballistic she went diving, which makes about as much sense. In my defence, a piece of tomato was about to fall onto the magazine, so I was distracted.

“’She won’t let her kids dive into a pool at all. She has a friend who broke his back diving into a pool’.”

Actually that was me. Snapped my spine in two, like a piece of chalk. Admittedly it was partly my own fault. I was pretty drunk, and I decided as a dare I would jump from the diving board at the Aquatic Centre they used in the Olympic Games. I forgot all about the stone you have to throw in to break the surface tension of the water. So I climbed up , jeez, it must have been 40 meters or so, and dived, perfectly, I swear to God, a double reverse backflip with a pike, and I would have landed ever so sweetly, hardly any splash at all, if it hadn’t been for that damned surface tension.



NICOLE KIDMAN. You know very well that is not true.

VON HANGMAN. Well, um. Yeah. It’s not literally true …

NICOLE KIDMAN. A very close and dear friend of mine broke his back while diving into a pool.

VON HANGMAN. Was he diving into the pool or driving into the pool?

NICOLE KIDMAN. He was diving. That’s why I won’t let Isabella and Conor dive.

VON HANGMAN. Nic, while you’re here. Were you The Insider, dudette? The source?

NICOLE KIDMAN. I don’t think, in all my life, I have seen anything quite so disgusting looking as that vegieburger you are eating.

VON HANGMAN. Answer the question.

NICOLE KIDMAN. No, it wasn’t me. And my eyes were so NOT bulging.

VON HANGMAN. It was Russell, wasn’t it? The Insider I mean. Come on, think about it. It must have been him.

NICOLE KIDMAN. Honestly, I don’t think so. It crossed my mind. I’ll admit it crossed my mind. But I honestly don’t think it was him. I like the moustache, by the way. It is very Errol Flynn. It also makes you look a bit like Johnny Depp in “Ed Wood”.

VON HANGMAN. Thanks Nic. What with all the swordfighting, and rope swinging, and general swashbuckling that I’m up to, it just kind of made sense. I’ll take the Johnny Depp thing as a compliment.

NICOLE KIDMAN. It is also covered with some kind of faux mayonnaise sauce.

VON HANGMAN [wiping upper lip]. So, what’s this in the other rag, “New Weekly”, whatever, about you and Russell.


VON HANGMAN. Yawannachip?

NICOLE KIDMAN. No I don’t want a chip. I honestly don’t know how you can eat that crap. I don’t know why I could sit here and watch you eat that crap all day, I honestly don’t. And yet I can. I could sit here all day and watch you eating chips. I don’t know whether that makes me happy or sad.

VON HANGMAN. You mind just watching while I read the rest of this article?

I like the moustache, by the way.

“’So Nicole ran over to the other side of the house and bawled Penelope out. Penelope pushed Nicole away from her and explained that it had only been innocent fun, and that the deep end is deep enough for diving.

“’That infuriated Nicole who raged that she’s their mother and that Penelope really needs to back off .

“’A maid had alerted Tom and he ran out of his office to try to calm them down. They eventually did and Nicole stormed off’.”

That maid is Suspect #6. Having said that, she is without doubt the least interesting suspect, so I’ll have nothing more to say about her. Anyway, back to “New Idea”. The next major blow-up wasn’t long in coming because the very same night Conor was teasing Isabella about something and Nicole wasn’t paying too much attention – until Isabella started teasing him back in Spanish.

“Nicole asked Isabella where she’d learnt Spanish, and she replied: ‘Aunt Penelope.’ Apparently Isabella has picked up quite a vocabulary – not all of it the kind of stuff they teach you at school. So Penelope has taught Isabella to swear in Spanish.

“’It’s not a big deal to some- but it is to Nicole’, the source explained.

“’She couldn’t believe Penelope was teaching her daughter Spanish swear words. She called for someone to watch the kids and once again stormed off to confront Penelope’.”

Penelope Cruz is SO going to be in the “New Idea” worst–dressed list. Those lists don’t have anything to do with the clothes people wear. They are a ranking of celebrities in terms of which celebrities are good role models and which aren’t, according to the editors of the magazines. Nicole is such a good role model, she could wear a potato sack and still be on top of the best dressed list. As for Penelope, she is an automatic selection on the worst-dressed list of every magazine in Australia. Not that even that is punishment enough for everything she has done to Nicole and Nicole’s children. That foul-mouthed doe-eyed etc. little trollop should have her mouth washed out with soap.

“’When Nicole found Penelope she raced to her with bulging eyes and asked her in a loud voice how she could think it’s appropriate to teach little girls to swear.

“’Penelope told her she was being ridiculous and that Isabella hears worse things in the schoolyard every day. She told Nicole to lighten up.

“’Nicole shot back that she didn’t need to lighten up- she needed to be a mum.

“’And she told Penelope: “She already has a mum, Penelope, and I’m it!”

“’Penelope responded by criticizing Nicole’s fitness as a mother.

“’Penelope told her that trying to protect the kids from every little thing makes her a crappy mum,’ says the source.

“’Nicole really lost it and told Penelope to back off from her kids- for good’.”

Nicole left Aspen with the kids the next morning. Actually it is a wonder they managed to get away without having their backs broken. Before they went, there was a conversation between Nicole and Tom. Naturally, The Insider, whoever he or she is, was there.

“’Nicole told him she wasn’t going to allow Penelope to raise her kids. When Tom said that it was unavoidable, Nicole replied, “Then things will really get ugly, Tom.”

“That was the last encounter between them. No one knows what to expect when Nicole returns the children to Tom and Penelope in a few weeks.

“’The situation looks grim. No one is looking forward to seeing the sparks fly the next time Tom’s two women mix it up,’ says the source.”

That last sentence, I think, is good proof that the source is genuine because nobody who was just making it up could possibly write a sentence that bad. Certainly not a pair of journalists of the stamp of Baskin and Pascale.

That is only half the article. If I gave more away, it wouldn’t really be fair to Baskin and Pascale because the massive crossover market between W-D and “New Idea” might feel they have already extracted so much information from my post that they can save themselves $3.50 by not buying the magazine. (Seriously though, guys, if you don’t shell out the money you’ll miss graphic photographic evidence on pp 94-95 that Brooke Shields is either pregnant for the first time or was looking just a little porkier than normal when photographed by some asshole with a zoom lens from about 70 metres away). So I’ll just wrap things up by pointing out Tom’s closeness to his ex-wife is really starting to rattle Penelope. Apparently Penelope chucked a tantrum when Tom was on a golf course and took a call from Nicole on his mobile telephone. “You’re talking to her again, aren’t you,” Penelope screamed in that banshee-like voice of hers, “You should have brought her along instead of me.” With all this turmoil happening on the Tom front (read: with the relationship fizzling out like a penny-bunger chucked into the Grand Coulee Damn), Penelope has been seeking comfort in her close friendship with Enrique Iglesias. “The pair have been spotted together on the LA set of her movie “Masked and Anonymous” where he visited her in her trailer.” Baskin and Pascale don’t specify that shortly afterwards the trailer was bumping up and down, but I think that is the clear subtext. Penelope’s father, Eduardo Cruz, is brought in to supply a quote.

“Noting that Nicole is set to land the role of good witch Samantha in a remake of the ‘60s TV series, ‘Bewitched,’ Eduardo quips, ‘It seems to me Tom is still bewitched by Nicole!’.”

Although clearly the spell cast by Nicole was powerless to prevent his dumping her like a kilogram of last week’s prawnheads wrapped up in newspaper as soon as Penelope showed up, it is good to know that the old practical magic is still firing. Better late than never.

Poor Nicole never suspected the betrayal that would rock her marriage

VON HANGMAN. So, apparently, Penelope Cruz is banging Enrique Iglesias. If she hasn’t already done it, it is only a matter of time.

NICOLE KIDMAN. Why are you telling me this? I can’t believe I am sitting in a Burger King having you explain my own life to me, though the prism of a couple of hacks from a celebrity-babble magazine like “New Idea.” So, what is your point here, Mickey?

VON HANGMAN. I beg yours?

NICOLE KIDMAN. What are you on about? What was it that was so fascinating about that article that you’ve been ignoring me.

VON HANGMAN. I don’t know. You know, your eyes do bulge sometimes.

NICOLE KIDMAN. No they don’t.

VON HANGMAN. It’s actually kind of attractive.


VON HANGMAN. Yeah, sort of.

NICOLE KIDMAN [Bulging eyes]. It is really great getting a lot of attention in the press when it is about my work, my acting. Even when I get criticized, so long as it is about my work, that’s fine. But sometimes, you know, when it is all about my personal life, I just wish I could make it all stop. People write such stupid things about me. And people like you just encourage it when you buy magazines like “New Idea”.

VON HANGMAN. But it is part of popular culture, isn’t it? I mean it is all a part of our culture on a level beyond just having lies about you printed in the media. Celebrities like you are a part of the mythological tapestry of life in the affluent countries at the beginning of the 21st Century. People like you aren’t just talked about in the media. You’re talked about by real people too, who are trying to make sense of their own lives, and use your life as a template for what is the right thing and what is the wrong thing to do. And when people who don’t know you are talking about you down at the pub, or around the mah jong board, or taking a coffee break at work, or whatever, my guess would be that they don’t really REALLY believe most of what are saying, most of what they have read, but they kind-of, sort–of believe in it at the same time, you know, the same way I imagine the Ancient Greeks kind-of, sort-of believed in Apollo and Zeus and Aphrodite and so on. I mean look at that article and you can see archetypes in it, like Penelope Cruz being some kind of a wicked stepmother. I mean, you could tweak that a bit and it could have come straight out of the Brothers Grimm. And you’re a special case. At least to Australians, you are even more of a fairytale figure than most celebrities, because there you are one moment tooling around the streets of Manly doing “BMX Bandits” with that frizzball on your head and the next moment you’re married to this Prince Charming Guy who is one of the biggest movie stars in the world. And then, and then, he dumps you. It has got echoes of the Princess Di story, hasn’t it?

NICOLE KIDMAN. Well Tom, for all his faults, doesn’t have jug ears and he doesn’t go fox hunting. And as for me, thank goodness, I’m not spattered all over some Paris tunnel, although I might look that way soon, if you don’t stop gesturing at me like that with your vegieburger.

VON HANGMAN. Sorry about that. Anyway, I think you come out of the article smelling like roses. OK, you are depicted as being insane, but in a good way, springing to the defence of your children. You are fiercely protective of your children.

NICOLE KIDMAN. I am fiercely protective of my children. You know, you really do remind me of Johnny Depp in ”Ed Wood”. Say that again. “You are fiercely protective of your children.”

VON HANGMAN. [Ed Wood voice] You are fiercely protective of your children. [Normal voice]. And there is this evil stepmother, right? Not only is she trying to pollute your kids’ innocent minds with her darn Spanish swear words, and not only is she trying to cripple them for life by making them do belly flops off of a springboard, it is also pretty clear that she is sexually promiscuous. God, Tom’s mind must have been clouded over when he dumped you in favor of that little slapper. He must have been enchanted or something. Yeah, that’s it, he was probably enchanted. You know, by an evil sorcerer.

NICOLE KIDMAN. There are a few things about Tom I think you ought to know …

VON HANGMAN. Yeah, yeah. I know what you are going to tell me. But, look, that all doesn’t matter. This is a story that only works if it’s a tussle between two women. Like it or not, women have to deal with being understood in terms of these powerful symbols of goodness (motherhood/ virginity) or evil (usually expressed in terms of fallen sexuality). And in the story, you and this Cruz femme are Tom’s two women. See, it says so right there. It is all about which of you is worthy of him, and vice versa. It is a contest. It is also a morality tale. You lose the contest, but you win the moral victory.

NICOLE KIDMAN. You are reading too much into it.

VON HANGMAN. Am I? Look at the subliminal message in that detail about Tom receiving a telephone call from you on, of all places, a golf course. Your relationship with Tom is as lush and open and public and well-tended as a golf course. You’re the mother of his children. You have nothing to hide.

NICOLE KIDMAN. They’re adopted.

VON HANGMAN. Whatever. Compare the setting for Penelope’s sordid liaison with Enrique Iglesias: a trailer. Where else would you expect to find human trash like Penelope. She and Tom may not actually be living in a trailer park, but it is where they belong. Neither of them are fit to meet your slightly unnerving but not unattractive bulging stare. You’re going to playing a good witch. What does that make Penelope? It makes her a bad witch, a crone, dudette, with a wart on the end of her nose, and a hair growing out of it. In stark contrast, you are going to be on the best dressed list. Again.

NICOLE KIDMAN. Well, I will just have to take whatever comfort I can from that.

VON HANGMAN. You have overcome adversity. You’ve risen. You are on a different plane. Nic, you rock.

NICOLE KIDMAN. Can we leave Burger King now?.


NICOLE KIDMAN. And can you leave that stupid magazine in the bin here.

VON HANGMAN. Dudette, I can.

Lots of luck, pal. She’s evil!!!


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