‘Storymakers’: Cruise Control, Apatow on Genitalia

“Storymakers,” the sporadic AMC specials on the movie business, premieres its second installment this Friday (May 15), with Tom Cruise, Judd Apatow, and Cameron Diaz (along with her “My Sister’s Keeper” director Nick Cassavetes) as guests.

The show is hosted by Variety editorial director Peter Bart along with producer Peter Guber, so for 066 obvious conflict reasons I’ll skip a review. What does emerge, though, is an interesting and unusually illuminating look at Cruise, who in this unguarded and leisurely setting (relative to most conventional hit-the-mark, tell-pre-screened-anecdote TV interviews, anyway) reveals a thoughtful side about his business.

Admittedly, most interviewers can’t casually reference a dinner that he shared with Cruise at his house, as Guber does. But given the drubbing that Cruise’s image has taken over the years (see that infamous couch-hopping “Oprah” appearance and his testy exchange with Matt Lauer on the “Today” show), this conversational format suits him much better than the lion’s share of his carefully orchestrated media exposures.

In short, he comes across as a different guy when the discussion is confined to the process of making movies as opposed to, say, allowing him to hold forth regarding mental-health treatment or his personal life. It’s a reminder that actors initially become famous for their work and subsequently become infamous for everything but, once that fame opens the door to picking apart the rest of their lives.

As for Apatow, the director discusses, among other things, the duration of the frontal-male-nudity scene in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and how the number of people who walked out of advance screenings dropped as he gradually reduced the time that actor Jason Segel was shown naked. However ego-deflating this might be for Segel, the moral of the story per Apatow is, “There is a certain amount of penis that America can handle in 2009.”

Now there’s a sentence you probably won’t hear on “Entertainment Tonight.” Although come to think of it, “ET’s” very existence helps prove its veracity.

 

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