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Faces of the week (Friday 7 April, 2006)


Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are TOM CRUISE (main picture), with JK ROWLING, DIXONS, DAVID BECKHAM and NAOMI CAMPBELL

TOM CRUISE

As Tom Cruise prepares for the birth of his third child, and holds forth on the shortcomings of his own upbringing, the BBC News Profiles Unit charts the trials and triumphs of this most focussed of actors.

Any day now should see the much-anticipated arrival of the child of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. While this is undoubtedly a happy family event, the recent actions of the proud expectant father means that many are viewing the birth as the culmination of a year-long PR exercise by Hollywood's most bankable star, with its decidedly mixed results.

Scientological arrival

In the past few weeks, the impending arrival has caused a flurry of activity at the couple's LA home, and even more frenzied speculation by celebrity pundits around the world.

The parents-to-be have revealed the installation of a hospital-spec scanner machine to chart the movements of their unborn, and Cruise's staff have erected large placards around his property bearing the mantra "... but be silent and make all physical movements slow and understandable".

A very public affair: Katie Holmes with Tom Cruise
Tabloids have gone further and reported that Katie has even been given an adult-sized dummy to prevent her crying out during the birth, all part, they say, of providing a proper Scientological silent welcome for Cruise Junior.

Ahhh, Scientology... the L Ron Hubbard-founded church that Tom Cruise credits for giving him the tools to overcome a broken family home, nomadic childhood and even dyslexia, but also the organisation that is said to persuade its, often wealthy and famous, members to indulge in unusual rituals.

Unlike Cruise's former wife Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes has seemingly been persuaded to join her fiancé in his religion. Her baby shower took place at the church's Celebrity Centre in Hollywood and one of their midwives is reported to be constantly with her; meanwhile, cynics across America have been sporting T-shirts that say "Free Katie".

Enduring box-office clout

Such wariness took root in spring of last year, when the couple embarked on an extremely high-profile romance, punctuated by pit stops around the world where, coincidentally, each had a new film to promote.

When Cruise proposed to his girlfriend at the Eiffel Tower in June, he announced it at a Paris press conference a few hours later. The month before, he had stunned viewers with his now legendary sofa-hopping appearance on Oprah. This display of zeal was later voted the year's number one visible celebrity "meltdown" by TV Guide Magazine.

Cruise with his former wife Nicole Kidman
Meanwhile, Cruise's ex-wife Nicole Kidman revealed her bemusement at her former spouse's antics, asking, "In terms of your life, if you start to exploit it, then what's real and what's not?"

What remains just as real, however, is Tom Cruise's enduring clout at the box office, and personal appeal for his global audiences. Last year's War of the Worlds made the usual millions of dollars associated with the star, in no way hindered by Cruise's happiness to spend time with fans who attended the premieres. He spent hours shaking hands, speaking to mums and dads on mobile phones and giving his ubiquitous grin.

Twenty-five years after his film debut in Franco Zeffirelli's Endless Love, what really marks out Tom Cruise from his peers is his longevity at the very top of the tree in an industry known for its ruthless expulsion of all but the canniest.

All-American appeal

He joined his fellow Brat Packers for Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders in 1983. But by the end of the decade, the success of films such as Top Gun, Cocktail, The Colour of Money and Rain Man had pushed Cruise well ahead of his peers; in six years between 1986 and 2001, he was the world's top money-making box-office star.

From his elevated box-office perch, Cruise has often managed to confound his "beefcake" status, keeping his army of fans happy with his action antics in films like Minority Report and the Mission: Impossible series, but impressing the critics with his more complex turns in, for example, Interview With a Vampire and Magnolia.

Born on the Fourth of July and Jerry Maguire gave Cruise the chance to perform his usual tricks, in each playing a handsome, all-achieving, all-American boy wonder. But in each film, this grinning edifice was dismantled, and the protagonist emerged as a wiser, flawed but more fully realised character by the time of the credits.

Cruise has always given the media his best smile
Cruise was Oscar-nominated for both roles and, in some ways, the last year has seen his mirroring this rite of passage off-screen. His first two marriages - to actresses Mimi Rogers and then Kidman - were cloistered in security, secrecy and drastic anti-revelatory measures.

With the departure last year of his long-time publicist Pat Kingsley, Cruise has engaged far more directly with his audiences, but this has not always gone well. He has taken it on himself to speak out against psychiatry - telling one interviewer "You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do".

Razzie award winner

He has been equally vociferous about the danger of putting children on medication, and has even taken actress Brooke Shields to task for her belief in post-natal depression. He asked, "Where's her career gone? Is she happy?"

Last month at the Razzie awards, which mark Hollywood's worst moments, these unsolicited pronouncements earned Tom Cruise a silver gong as "the most tiresome tabloid target". The gold award went to... Tom Cruise, for his unashamed romancing of his fiancée.

But Mission: Impossible I and II took nearly $1billion between them. If the third in the series, due for release this summer, is anything like as successful then, as far as the powers that be in Hollywood are concerned, their brightest star can continue to do and say what he pleases.

As a project closer to home enjoys his or her premiere in the next few days, Tom Cruise will be wondering if there really is any such thing as bad publicity.


JK Rowling

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has revealed that she is concerned about what she says is society's obsession with the perfect female figure "I've got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world," she says on her website. "I don't want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones." She also praised Stupid Girls, the new single from pop star, Pink, as "the antidote-anthem for everything I had been thinking about women and thinness".

 

Dixons

After 70 years as a familiar fixtures of Britain's high streets, the electrical retailer Dixons is about to disappear. The company, formed in 1937 by Charles Kalms, is merging with its sister chain, Curry's, to become "Currys.digital", with a greater emphasis on internet trading. Chief executive John Clare said "The Dixons brand and the Currys brand have been around a long time and we expect them to be around for many generations to come."

David Beckham

England soccer ace David Beckham has spoken candidly about the extent of his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In a television interview, he revealed that he arranges drinks cans, clothes and magazines in straight lines and symmetrical patterns. Beckham also said that his wife, Victoria, thinks that his behaviour is "weird" and that he is addicted to having tattoos. "I actually enjoy the pain," he admits. "Victoria's not keen on me having many more but they are addictive."

 
Naomi Campbell

Following her arrest for allegedly assaulting her housekeeper, supermodel Naomi Campbell has been giving her version of events. Campbell was charged with second degree assault last week, after Ana Scolavino claimed she threw a mobile phone at her head. The model, who denied the charge when she appeared in court, told US TV show Entertainment Tonight: "You can't stop people from thinking what they want to think... I'm someone who is very loyal."

Compiled by BBC News Profiles Unit's Caroline Frost