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Biz introspection.

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"Do you think they're your friends? They're not your friends."
Tom who? The highlight of the whole Cruise/Paramount falling out is that we finally get a new Caryn James think piece in the New York Times, this one on the star’s plummeting public image.

Before "Collateral" he hadn’t challenged himself as an actor since 1999, when he played a ponytailed self-help guru who does television infomercials in the daring Paul Thomas Anderson ensemble film "Magnolia." It was a role that may have cut too close, revealing how illusory a celebrity’s public image is. These days he is like a charlatan who can’t manage to dupe anybody. He seems desperate to maintain his stature as one of the world’s biggest movie stars, even as he morphs into something no movie star can afford to be: a guy you wouldn’t want to know.

Ah, Caryn — you and your semi-insights. Personally, we still think Tom Cruise is a decent movie star, but then he’s pretty much defined our understanding of what a contemporary movie star is, which would be beautiful, wealthy, famous, and possessed of an utterly incomprehensible personal life. Over at the London Times, Ian Johns wonders if we’re at the end of the age of star power:

It’s often this “back-end deal”, by which top talent “owns” a percentage of a film’s profits, that is making Hollywood studios skittish. “In the Seventies it was cheaper to pay the stars out of the back end than to pay their salaries,” observed Bill Mechanic, a producer and former Twentieth Century Fox studio head, in the Los Angeles Times. “But then the budgets and salaries went back up, but the back end stayed. And not just for guys who had 20 years in the business, but for guys like Jim Carrey, who was a hot comedian with hardly any film experience.”

Believe It or Not!, a Carrey project with an estimated $150 million budget, was shut down recently by Paramount executives who didn’t want to pay production costs while script changes were made. Fox also pulled the plug on Used Guys, a comedy starring Carrey and Ben Stiller. It is a good example of how a $100 million-plus film can fall apart nowadays.

John Horn and Rachel Abramowitz at the LA Times see the Cruise cast-off as a symptom of a current phase of industry frankness and belt-tightening:

Under the industry’s standard operating procedures, studios terminate deals over "creative differences" and issue news releases effusively praising all parties. But in a Wall Street Journal interview, [Viacom chairman Sumner] Redstone not only didn’t bother with such niceties, but he also went after Cruise for his off-screen behavior.

He seemed particularly upset that Cruise’s couch-jumping, finger-pointing pronouncements on love, psychiatry and Ritalin had damaged his box-office appeal, and hence Paramount Pictures Inc.’s profit.

But Hollywood is full of steadily employed actors and moguls who have assaulted hotel clerks with cellphones, picked up prostitutes and consumed massive amounts of illegal drugs. The difference is their indiscretions are not considered financially costly.

Though we have no idea if this last supposed truthfulness trend is real, we do hope it is. There’s something magical about the idea of an industry built on making nice turning around and laying it out like it is: "Maybe next week you can lay of the three-gram-a-night coke habit and actually eat something — those fainting spells are really dragging this shoot out."

+ Mission Imperative for a Star: Be Likable (NY Times)
+ The bigger they fall (London Times)
+ In Hollywood, Candor Is Playing a Bigger Part (LA Times)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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