Pop Culture

Group bungles protest at ‘Valkyrie’ premiere

Anti-Scientology group Anonymous hoped to protest the Dec. 15 New York City premiere of “Valkyrie,”  starring noted Scientologist Tom Cruise, but wasn’t so successful.

For starters, just hours before the premiere, group organizers realized that the event’s location was at Jazz at Lincoln Center, which is actually located at the Time Warner Center and not in Lincoln Center itself as they’d thought.

The difference of a few blocks meant a difference in police precinct jurisdictions, which in turn meant that they had to scramble to get a permit from the police to allow their protest (in the end, they did get their permit).

One source close to the premiere planning says that the choice to hold it at Jazz at Lincoln Center was made in part because it would be more difficult to protest — the location doesn’t allow for a big outdoor red carpet.

“Anonymous picketed outside (Cruise's wife) Katie's ‘All My Sons’ premiere and ruined photos by being in the background. They didn’t want the same thing,” says the source. The flip side: “Tom loves being with his fans, signing autographs. It’s really where he shines. He and the fans lose out this way.”

The net result: Anonymous, along with a German camera crew that followed the group to the protest and plans to air their footage in a documentary in early 2009, gathered at the premiere “but Tom never came out to talk to us,” according to one protester. “That said, I think we stood around, and were able to get our message out about Scientology peacefully.”

Williams won’t accept Globe for LedgerWhen “The Dark Knight” premiered last July in New York City, rumors surfaced that Heath Ledger’s ex, Michelle Williams, would attend.

Not surprisingly, similar talk has begun again now that Ledger is nominated for a Golden Globe for his work in the film. This time, the chatter surrounds whether Williams would accept the Globe (should he win) or whether a member of his immediate family would accept on his behalf. The latter is far more likely.

A rep for Williams says there are no plans for her to attend. Another source close to Williams points out, “Would any ex-wife do such a thing? It makes no sense.”

Williams and Ledger, who had a daughter together, weren’t married, but the couple’s split was confirmed in Sept. 2007.

‘American Idol’ producer talks show changes There will be no “Idol Gives” back, the wild card show is returning, new judge Kara DioGuardi fits in, and Paula Goodspeed wasn’t known to be a threat, “American Idol” executive producer Ken Warwick confirmed during a Dec. 15 conference call.

“I was in the room (when Paula Goodspeed auditioned) and I could put my hand on my heart and say I didn’t know (that Goodspeed had allegedly stalked judge Paula Abdul)," Warwick said. "She may have mentioned it to a security man or another junior producer, but I surely didn’t know … No way in a million years would I put someone on just because its good television.”

Abdul has claimed that Fox network and "Idol" producers knew about Goodspeed's connection to Abdul and allowed her to audition anyway.

As for the “Idol Gives Back” charity special, Warwick says the economy weighed as heavily in the decision to eighty-six the show as the production strain did. He said that the special was a huge weight on top of the 3 to 4 hours per week of television already being made, and as soon as it wrapped, it was time to work on making the finale special. “We’ll probably do it every other year,” he said.

Looking ahead to season eight, DioGuardi reportedly is the factor this season that keeps Simon Cowell from “steamrolling” the other judges. And while the “Idol” producers might have learned from the previous eight seasons, so have the contestants.

Warwick says, “(Auditioners are) a lot more savvy than they used to be. The naivete is gone, they’re camera savvy. We have to be more careful with the people we pick, those who act deliberately stupid (in order) to be sent up.”

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