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Friday, December 16, 2005


Cruise looks to clear the air, as Cuba gets down and 'Dirty'

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
'Jerry Maguire" buddies Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. were partying just a few blocks apart Wednesday night - but they might as well have been on different planets.

You might say that Cruise was on Teegeeack, as members of his Church of Scientology sometimes refer to Earth. The "War of the Worlds" star and his fiancée, Katie Holmes, were at a Tribeca Rooftop benefit for the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project.

As we've told you before, that's the controversial program that treats victiams of smoke inhalation with a "purification rundown" that some doctors and FDNY officials have branded as "medically unproven."

In the past, reps for the project have played down its ties to Scientology. But there was no doubt that Cruise's party was a Church social. Pictures of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard hung near the bar, and each goody bag included one of his sacred texts.

Addressing about 150 guests who paid $6,250 a head (double that if they sat at his table), Cruise made no mention of the project's critics. Typically upbeat, he invited an NYPD officer and a U.S. Army major, both "program graduates," to testify about benefits of their treatment.

But even the most earnest Scientologist embraces the Yuletide. Holmes, clearly showing the baby the cuddling couple is expecting, rehearsed "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" with the Alex Donner Orchestra. With the help of Cruise's $50,000 gift, the evening raised $350,000. Alas, there wasn't time for Katie's carols.

Meanwhile, we ran into Gooding at a screening of his gripping new gang drama, "Dirty," hosted by producer Lee Daniels. Asked if he was headed to the Detox bash, Gooding told us, "This is the first I heard of it. Tom didn't call me. He don't call a brother no more!"

But, seriously, the Oscar winner assured us he and Cruise are still friends, and he wished him the best.

And, while Cruise and Holmes called it a night at around 11, Gooding partied on at PM in the Meatpacking District.

The actor, whose wife, Sara, recently gave birth to their third child, "was dancing, drinking Champagne and playing the drums all night," says a spy.

Perhaps it's his own "purification rundown."


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