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Tom Cruise to Oprah: ‘Life isn’t perfect.’

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This just in from Tom Cruise:

‘Life isn’t perfect.’

Well, you could have fooled us. On Friday’s ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ sponsored, apparently by the Telluride Chamber of Commerce, Oprah Winfrey and her camera crew made the long, though terribly scenic, trek to the movie star’s Colorado home for their first interview since the infamous ‘couch bounce’ three years ago. After a strangely brief appearance by Katie Holmes and her astonishingly perfect hair, Cruise and Winfrey went on a tour of the family home -- from ‘the mudroom,’ where a pair of fleece-lined slippers marked ‘Oprah’ filled one cubby, to daughter Suri’s little ‘office’ under the stairs, to the study where bound scripts from Cruise movies line the bookshelves (yes, there was ‘Cocktail,’ front and center) -- before settling into an overstuffed sofa.

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‘This is just so normal,’ Winfrey exclaimed as the two stood in the enormous, professionally outfitted kitchen while the camera went from the breathtaking mountain views to the plate of cupcakes on a kitchen table. You bet. Just two superrich, overexposed media icons sitting around talking.

Obviously, the interview, the first of two, if you can imagine, was Cruise’s attempt to ‘settle all family business,’ to put to rest the rumors of mental instability that ran rampant through Hollywood after his manic appearance on ‘Oprah’ was swiftly followed by his denunciation of Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants and his anti-psychiatry diatribe against ‘Today’ host Matt Lauer. Since then, he has married Holmes, welcomed baby Suri, been ‘fired’ from Paramount by Sumner Redstone, resurrected United Artists with production partner Paula Wagner, and, perhaps most important, returned to a haven of professional handlers -- after the ‘Oprah’ debacle, he jettisoned his sister, who had been functioning as his publicist, and hired Paul Bloch from Rogers & Cowan.

Now with United Artists treading water after a lackluster debut (‘Lions for Lambs’) and a stalled ‘Valkyrie,’ Cruise has his eye on ‘Mission: Impossible 4’ and, perhaps, a return to the hearts of moviegoing America.

‘You’re living your dream,’ Winfrey told him several times toward the end of the interview, to which he replied: ‘And I’m getting ready to turn this up.’

It was difficult not to hear this as a threat. Turn what up? His public persona? I thought we were hoping to turn that down.

He certainly cannot have been referring to the famous grin, which was so blinding during the interview that one wondered if computer graphics were not involved. Nor did he seem to be talking about his on-camera presence, which was subdued to the point of near catatonia at times. No one would confuse Tom Cruise with William F. Buckley or even Robert Downey Jr., but there were moments when you really felt for Oprah, when you saw her straining every synapse to coax a complete sentence out of her subject until she finally gave up and filled in the words herself.

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And it’s not like the questions were all that difficult.

‘What was going on with you [during the sofa incident]? How important is friendship to you? How is your relationship with Nicole? Does the press affect your kids?’ were a few of the more burning queries. ‘Were you surprised?’ she asked of the public reaction to his couch bounce, his marriage to Katie, the birth of Suri. It was ‘a moment’ (the sofa bouncing). Friendship is the most important thing, his relationship with former wife Nicole Kidman is great -- ‘We share custody whenever’ -- his kids love him and know he is there for them, and sometimes he is surprised by the rumors that swirl around him. ‘Sometimes it’s like ‘I get it, I get to make movies,’’ he said, ‘...but certain things, you go: ‘Come on.’’

Indeed. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

I don’t want them to worry. I take care of things. Getting ready to turn this up. I wish for you the peace this mountain can bring.

-- Mary McNamara

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