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Tom Cruise's Nazi film, "Valkyrie," is garnering some negative reviews. That's not the fault of his PR people, who reportedly offered a private screening if radio-station employees would say "nice things" about the film.
By The Scoop
msnbc.com
updated 12/22/2008 9:36:23 PM ET 2008-12-23T02:36:23

"Distractingly bad," and "unengaging Nazi escapade" are among some of the reviewers' comments attached to "Valkyrie," Tom Cruise's film that opens Christmas day.

Cruise's people can't be happy —for the obvious reasons — but also, according to a source with radio station K-Earth 101, the Cruise camp was willing to go to great lengths to garner some positive publicity. In fact, they went so far as to offer a screening for anyone at the station and their friends at the Cruise home, if only they'd "say 'nice things' about the movie," according to the source.

Here's what's said to have happened. On Nov. 24, Mark Steines of "Entertainment Tonight" called into the show to discuss the exclusive interview "ET" had scored with Cruise. During the course of the interview with Lisa Stanley, Stanley mocks Cruise for not having a German accent in the film, says early viewers "laughed at it," and then asks, "Listen, I'm just curious how you have no German accent, so many delays, and now people are saying, 'It's fantastic!' It's impossible."

Impossible if you've seen the film ... maybe. Which is why, according to the radio station source, a member of Cruise's camp called the station to offer up a free friends and family screening.

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"They offered to hold it in Tom's home — they didn't say if he'd be there or not," the source says. "We just had to agree to say 'nice things' about the movie."

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings

Cruise's camp didn't respond to a request for comment.

As of last week, however, "Valkyrie" was tracking similar to Brad Pitt's "Curious Case of Benjamin Button," at least among women who said they would see the films.

This didn't come as a huge surprise to one industry expert, however.

"That data came out in the middle of Tom's publicity run for the film, and Brad's barely done any promotion for 'Ben Button,'" the source notes. "Don't forget, too, that there's a big difference between saying you'd see something and seeing it. We'll have to wait."

Piven castmates speak out
There’s no love lost between Jeremy Piven and his “Speed the Plow” castmates.

After the Dec. 21 matinee performance, cast member Raul Esparza made a surprising announcement to the audience about the “ridiculousness that had been surrounding” the show.

“I know a lot of you wanted to see a big TV star,” Esparza remarked, “…but this is the first time all season this trio (which included Elisabeth Moss and Piven’s understudy, Jordan Lage) has felt like a team."

According to an audience member, at that point, Moss became choked up and the cast hugged.

Another source close to the production said that Piven might have mercury poisoning, but he definitely wasn't wedded to the role. "It's like the novelty wore off for him," said the source.

High drama for Lindsay Lohan and Sam Ronson
The latest headline from the riveting world of Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson came Dec. 21 when news broke that Ronson was rushed to the emergency room (Don't worry, all is fine now. Proof: Ronson has updated her MySpace celebrity blog).

But apparently, the drama began earlier in the weekend.

"Linds and Sam fought the entire night," says an observer who was at Ecco in L.A. with the couple. "Lindsay spent the entire night crying. The two love drama. Who knows what it was about," says the source. "They did leave separately though."

Celebrity sightings
On Dec. 21, Warren Beatty and wife Annette Bening stopped in to Luau in Beverly Hills for a dinner. The low-key couple exchanged some friendly hellos with the table next to them before heading home for the night. ... In New York, Nelly Furtado ate pulled-pork nachos and ribs with a girlfriend at Southern Hospitality in New York City Dec. 21. ... On Dec. 18, Tyson Beckford celebrated his 38th birthday at Tenjune.

More on Tom Cruise | "Valkyrie"

Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com.

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