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Miami, FL Law Blog for Entertainment Law, Business Law, and Public Interest

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tom Cruise sues tabloid for $50 million

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

These days, any entertainer has to manage his or her reputation very carefully. That isn't easy with all the blogs, tabloid TV programs and supermarket checkout gossip rags that are many Miami residents' guilty pleasures.

Last Wednesday, Tom Cruise sued Life & Style Magazine over a story it ran alleging that he had "abandoned" Suri, his daughter with his soon-to-be-ex-wife Katie Holmes. Cruise's attorney said the actor is seeking $50 million in this entertainment lawsuit.

A lawsuit like this is rather unusual. Usually, celebrities do not bother suing. Libel and defamation lawsuits are hard to win, and it often makes the celebrity look bad and keeps the offending story alive longer than would have been the case if the celebrity had done nothing.

Far more often, celebrities use the power of their influence to exploit journalists' fears of being cut off from future stories, or they do what Cruise's lawyer did to Vanity Fair and the National Enquirer, which is send a letter threatening a lawsuit. Oftentimes, just knowing that a celebrity has retained an attorney is enough to keep journalists from lying, being deceitful or publishing falsehoods.

But evidently, this story bothered Cruise deeply. His attorney released a letter defending Cruise as a father and calling the magazine's publishers "sleaze peddlers."

We cannot predict the future, but we would not be surprised if this case settled out of court. Cruise does not really need $50 million and he isn't all that likely to get it. What he really wants to do here is send the message that he won't tolerate false accounts that damage his reputation. A lawsuit like Cruise's is one way of accomplishing this, but there are other avenues that entertainers might do well to explore.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Tom Cruise Sues Life & Style Magazine For $50M Over Suri Abandonment Story," Matthew Belloni, Oct. 24, 2012


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