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Risky Business in Hollywood

The NYT has this interesting feature today on some of the possible fallout from the drop-kick that Viacom delivered the other day to Tom Cruise: “A Big Star May Not a Profitable Movie Make.” Why hire a star, if the evidence of financial benefit is so equivocal?

“Stars help to launch a film. They are meant as signals to create a big opening,” he said. “But they can’t make a film have legs.”

Mr. Ravid, the Rutgers professor, suggests that stars serve as insurance for executives who fear they could be fired for green-lighting a flop. “If they hire Julia Roberts and the film flops, they can say ‘Well, who knew?’ ” said Mr. Ravid.

In a related spirit, Stephen Colbert (as usual) brings the truth. As Linda Ellerbee used to say, and so it goes.