Two events happened this past week that I immediately put in my “I don’t give a tiny rat’s patoot” folder.

First, Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures parted ways. It was spread across the country like every plumber, farmer and bus driver in the country were sitting on pins and needles into the wee hours of the morning waiting to digest this morsel of insignificant bilge. Much more important to me are all those people who are about to be separated from the auto industry.

“Oh my, the perils of little Tom!”

Cruise apparently ticked off the Paramount folks with his off-screen antics that allegedly were ridiculous. I really couldn’t say whether they were ridiculous or not since I don’t watch “Entertainment Tonight” because most of the stuff they talk about simply isn’t entertainment to me. I don’t care who has a new hairdo, nor do I care which old guy has married which young starlet.

But I do recall Cruise ridiculing Brooke Shields because she had to take medication for post-partem depression. I suppose now she gets the last laugh as Cruise deals with his post-Paramount condition.

Then came the announcement that the “Miss America Pageant” has moved back to Las Vegas. And it will be aired on Country Music Television ... again. I’m just guessing that the Home Shopping Network and the Science Fiction channel were outbid.

I have never understated my disdain for pageants. I was a judge in a Little Miss pageant many years ago, and I slipped out the back door after I saw how some of the parents acted with our panel’s decision. Geez! You would have thought these seven- and eight-year-olds were competing for a new Corvette when all the winner got was a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy. I vowed to never again be a judge in a pageant or even to attend one short of being tied up and dragged in.

Art McMaster, chief honcho of the pageant, said the pageant would stick with the back-to-basics makeover that producers delivered in 2006, scuttling a plan announced in April to incorporate elements of reality television into the pageant.

I don’t really care, but I wonder how they would have worked reality television into a pageant. Would the contestants have engaged in mud wrestling and eating worms while appealing for world peace in thongs?

To me using the phrase “pageant” and “reality” in the same sentence is a great contraction in terms. At best it would be an instance of finding two lost words and declaring in a single sentence that they were now accounted for.

Back to Tom Cruise. Paramount Pictures said they felt his antics had a negative impact on the box office receipts of “Mission Impossible Three.” I would rather think that the box office thing was a result of a lousy movie, not so much about Cruise jumping up and down on the sofa on the Opra Winfrey Show. Those kind of sequels tend to run out of appeal after about the 40th explosion.

Oh well, I’ve just seen two great Westerns starring Robert Duvall — “Open Range” and “Broken Trail.” Duvall apparently doesn’t act stupid off the set. He’s managed to do great performances for many years (he’s now in his 70s) without drawing negative publicity toward himself.

Of course I defend Tom Cruise’s right to act silly and stupid and even to make outlandish statements to his little heart’s desire. I just don’t care if he has been booted by Paramount as a result of those actions. His nest, his choice. We have a right to make choices.

Maybe he can emcee the 2007 Miss America pageant. And maybe he can tell those who lose that they don’t need drugs to get over their depression after the event.

Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. E-mail:

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