Redstone opens M:I door to Cruise

Viacom boss will not oppose casting

Sumner Redstone said Tuesday he has no objection to Tom Cruise starring in the next installment of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. The Viacom boss made the comment after speaking at the Seoul Digital Forum in the South Korean capital.

Redstone ended Paramount’s 14-year relationship with Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner in August 2006 and publicly criticized the actor’s behavior.

However, Cruise is now in talks with Paramount to star in a fourth “Mission: Impossible” film.

“I consider Tom Cruise a great actor and a good friend,” Redstone said. “And if Paramount decides to move ahead with him, I will not object.” He added that the decision was “up to Brad Grey, who runs Paramount.”

Redstone cut ties with Cruise after the actor jumped on a couch while he was a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s TV show and had a tussle with “Today” show host Matt Lauer over antidepressant drugs. After Cruise/Wagner’s deal with Paramount ended, the duo struck a deal with MGM to revive the United Artists banner.

Redstone, who was seen dining with Cruise in Beverly Hills in March, was responding to a reporter’s question after his speech.

He told forum delegates that Viacom and Paramount would not tolerate copyright theft by any sites.

“It’s harder and harder to make money in the media business,” Redstone said, pointing to websites enabling downloading of full-length songs and movies, DVD piracy and the unauthorized Internet distribution of copyright content. “We cannot tolerate any form of piracy by anyone, including YouTube.

“From Times Square to Kwang Hwa Moon Square (in South Korea), the threats to copyright are grave, and they are growing,” Redstone said. “Copyright is even more right in the digital age.”

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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