By Stacy Jenel Smith
No sooner did the news break that Tom Cruise
and fiancee Katie Holmes
are expecting than many in Hollywood responded with maximum-strength gossip.
"That's not possible," flatly declared one intimate of Cruise's ex-wife, Nicole Kidman, on hearing about the blessed event. The person then recalled some personal history of the former couple, and topped it off with, "I know."
Well, of course, this person couldn't know. Not really. And right now might be a good time to point out that sometimes the things "everyone knows" about celebrities simply aren't true. Otherwise, Britney would have had twins and Burt Reynolds wouldn't have lived past the 1980s.
Nevertheless, the disbelieving studio executive mentioned above is certainly not alone with regards to parents-to-be Tom and Katie -- not here at the epicenter of the movie idol's work world, where Tom's journey into fatherhood and beyond has been excruciatingly chronicled. So excruciatingly, it's led to lawsuits.
As early as 1992, the National Enquirer was reporting that Cruise had made Kidman undergo fertility tests before their marriage, and that the fact he and first wife Mimi Rogers hadn't had a child was a factor in their divorce - claims that were widely repeated in mainstream papers.
Four years later, Cruise slapped the German magazine Bunte with a $60 million defamation suit when it reported he had "zero sperm count," which caused Cruise "personal embarrassment and humiliation," said his lawyer, Bert Fields, to USA Today at the time. The lawsuit said that the star was not sterile and could produce children, but "feels strongly that people who are sterile should not be reviled or subjected to ridicule for that condition."
Cruise rejected attempts to settle out of court. However, he dropped the suit after a plane crash took the lives of two of the publication's executives. Bunte also apologized for printing fabricated parts of the interview, in particular a sentence in which Cruise was quoted as saying that he could not produce children.
In 2001, Cruise dropped another defamation suit - one for $100 million - against a magazine publisher after the publisher admitted he did not have a videotape of the actor having sex with another man. "Cruise does not appear on the videotape to which said defendant referred," said a Superior Court stipulation approved by Los Angeles Judge Emilie Elias. "[Cruise] is not, and never has been, homosexual and has never had a homosexual affair."
Even the kinder and gentler McCall's magazine was once called upon to make a formal apology in print after running the story, "Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman: Can they Survive the Rumors?"
Small wonder Cruise once snapped "people need to get lives" when broached on the subject.
Of course, Cruise has quite a life, and it already includes his two children - daughter Isabella, adopted by Cruise and Kidman in 1993, and son Connor, whom they adopted in '95. He is said to be a close and loving father.
After the Cruise-Kidman marital split came news that Kidman had suffered a miscarriage - and with that, another flurry of tabloid doubts and speculation. "There is no question that Tom is the father," declared one of Nicole's friends in Us Weekly. "It was his child."
What we can say for sure is that medical science has progressed. Cecil Long, MD, physician with the ART Program of Alabama, was quoted not long ago saying, "There are several developments in recent years that have all but eliminated male factor infertility." Not that that applies to Cruise, mind you. It's just good to hear.
So now, Tom Cruise has Katie Holmes and a baby on the way to have and to hold, from this day forward, and best wishes to them. He should brace himself for an onslaught of gossip, though. As long as Cruise holds the public's fascination to such an extent, the celeb press will be along for the ride.