Just Above Sunset
September 5, 2004 - Politics and Celebrities, Headscarves, Hostages and Short People

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

Click here for separate image....
Paris 9-4-04 - Photo MetropoleParis









Only readers in France (my counter software shows fifty-three) and perhaps my Francophile friends, and little old me in Hollywood, follow what’s up with Nicolas Sarkozy.  Tom Cruise?


And Dominique de Villepin is indeed too thoughtful, suave, articulate – and too intelligent and well educated (and he even runs marathons) – and far too ironic in his gentle and dry way – to play in the same game with George Bush and Tony Blair.  He’s just not crude enough.  He’s too grown up.


Say what?


See this from l'Agence France-Presse (AFP) by way of The Tocqueville Connection:


Received Monday, 30 August 2004 17:24:00 GMT


PARIS, Aug 30 (AFP) - Hollywood star Tom Cruise took a break Monday from promoting his latest film "Collateral" in Paris to meet with French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the ministry announced.


Cruise had requested the meeting after reading about Sarkozy in the US media, and arrived at the riverside ministry by boat, aides to the outspoken minister said.


The two discussed Franco-American relations and other "various" subjects for 90 minutes, the ministry said. At the end of the informal chat, Cruise invited Sarkozy to visit his ranch in the western US state of Colorado.


Earlier in the day, Cruise told a press conference at the Ritz hotel that he loved his job and wished he could make more movies.


"Being a movie star, it's a blast because I get to do what I love," he said, noting that he was thrilled to play against type in "Collateral", in which he portrays a hit man who takes a cab driver hostage in Los Angeles.


“I always look for a challenge. I never say 'Is this a good guy or a bad guy?" Cruise told reporters.


“Collateral", which co-stars Jamie Foxx and Jada Pinkett Smith, was a box office success when it opened earlier this month in the United States. It is due to hit theaters in France on September 29.


In November, Cruise will begin filming "War of the Worlds" directed by Steven Spielberg. He said he was also working on "Mission Impossible 3" and an unnamed project with "Collateral" director Michael Mann.




So I asked Ric Erickson of MetropoleParis about this meeting –


His response? 


Like a concert piano player, first I loosen up my fingers with this.


Yes, the 'news' is full of surprising surprises!


The boat was cute. TV-news showed Cruise leaving on the boat, possibly for a Seine cruise. Possibly the first finance ministry since Venise to have a dock. Thanks to Mitterrand.


And at the end of the informal chat, Cruise invited Sarkozy to visit his ranch in the western US state of Colorado?


Whew. From the headline I thought Cruise was being invited to Sarkozy's ranch. But, where? In the Bois de Boulogne next to Neuilly?  At the falling-down zoo in Vincennes? It's a government zoo; that's why it's falling down. Zoo workers are striking or protesting about the fake rocks falling off the fake mountains. The real mountain goats had to be evacuated for their safety.


But here's the first fact, based on viewing tonight's TV-news.  Sarkozy is as short as Cruise, or Cruise is as short as Sarkozy. This cute pair could be a duet in a Randy Newman song. Midgets at the ministry of finance, budget, industry, etc. Everything colossal left in France that hasn't been carted off to Poland yet.


And Cruise sating he loved his job and wished he could make more movies?  He should ask for a raise.


And he’s thrilled to play against type in “Collateral", in which he portrays a hit man who takes a cab driver hostage in Los Angeles?  I noticed a tall cab driver.


He tells reporters - "I always look for a challenge. I never say 'Is this a good guy or a bad guy?"  But his handlers always ask, 'Is this a good or bad check?'


As for "Collateral", they showed a clip from this here. A red and yellow taxi getting bombed by a dud or something. Cruise with white hair. He still looked short even though the camera was shooting up from below the pavement.


Why ask me why Cruise wanted to meet Sarkozy? Who wants to meet either of them, one of them, both of them or none of them? Do you think maybe Cruise wants Sarkozy's job at the ministry in case Sarkozy decides to manage the UMPs? Or does Cruise want to manage the UMPs? Maybe at the bottom of this, Cruise doesn't want to meet Jacques Chirac. Jacques is very tall. But polite.


Did I ever mention that Sarkozy lives in the ministry of finance?   There's a ministerial apartment in there bigger than Cruise's ranch.  Did I read somewhere that it's 3000 square metres? This is a guy the prime minister had to beat up so the minimum wage could be hiked, in 2005. Rumor has it the prime minister will quit this fall, so anybody spending the hike they're hoping for, better buy a lot of Loto tickets.


Sarkozy, by the way, is still being coy about whether he'll stay on as minister or leave to manage the UMPs, or mess with Chirac by trying to do both. He is a little wood chip, maybe headed for a fall. 

   - perplexed in Paris, ric

Ah.  But here’s the hard news from Ric, as of Saturday, 4 September….


Nicolas' Ruin of a Week


Nicolas Sarkozy planned this week carefully for his personal publicity use, expecting to begin it with the Tom Cruise media nonsense on Monday. About this, Metropole readers said, 'Huh?' Then to mesh seamlessly on Tuesday with his orchestrated announcement that he will run for president of the UMP party in November, and depending on Chirac - depending on not getting tossed out of the government right away - maybe drag it out to Friday. However this plan came unstuck on Tuesday when Chirac told him to wait a day. Damn, that cost him momentum!


Meanwhile French Muslim leaders trekked off to Iraq to try and pry two French journalists loose from the latest band of kidnappers, who are demanding that France shit-can its new law - came into effect Wednesday, 1. September - forbidding the wearing religious symbols in French state schools. The French Muslim trio went to say that this business is strictly Franco-French, and the kidnappers should give up the journalists. In fact, if you believe French news, the whole Arab world is saying these dudes in Iraq might have made a dumb mistake, considering how George hates the French too.


School started on Thursday. Guess what? Of all the Muslim girls who were planning to show up wearing headscarves, only a very few did so - matching about 10% of those who did it last year. Why not?  Because of the stupid jerks in Iraq.  How can you wear a head scarf to school when French journalists have been kidnapped in Iraq as blackmail to get France to retract a law against wearing head scarves in schools?  It wouldn't have been - oh - patriotic, I guess. Some of the girls seemed pretty confused during TV-news interviews.


[Tiny sidebar here- School principals were out in force to quietly and calmly deter all students wearing any religious symbols from entering state schools on Thursday. Those who persisted were told to go home and think about it carefully.]


But late on Wednesday, Jacques took a hour off from this other mess in Iraq, had a chat with our little Nicolas, and then announced that Nicolas will quit the government in November so he can run for office as president of the UMP. The Elysée Palace said it was a friendly meeting too. Well, this Elysée announcement effectively ruined Nicolas' Wednesday plan for a week of total media domination.


Then on Thursday, France-2 TV-news decided to have a live Dominique de Villepin in the newsroom. You remember Dominique?  The tall, cool, French guy who was in the United Nations causing all the trouble for old George.  Same guy now has Nicolas' old job as minister of the interior - means he's managing the eight-ball of both the scarf thing and the hostage thing.  Well, this dude is tall even when he's sitting down.  And, unlike George or Nicolas, he talks in whole sentences.  He talks fast but very clearly.  He doesn't say, um, eh, huh, ever.


I thought, this is supposed to be Nicolas' great stunning media week, and who is on the TV news instead?  Why, it sounds like, it looks like, it must be - the UMP's real presidential candidate - in 2007.  But no, it is only the ex-diplo now interior minister, Dominique de Villepin, only looking, sounding... without trying...  presidential.  A tall, tanned, guy many ladies could vote for.

So, in the end, today in fact, Nicolas Sarkozy finally got himself on the TV-news when he showed up for a young UMP's party up some Alp.  They all went crazy screaming 'Nicolas, Nicolas' while he pretended to be as bashful as Bonaparte.  Like a hired audience.  Today's paper mentioned that Dominique couldn't be there too, because the goofs in Iraq are still holding onto the French journalists, wondering how they're going to get out of this one.


On one hand you could think France is going to hell in a hand basket right behind the United States with all this adoration for a pocket Bonaparte from Neuilly, but on second thought, thinking that this guy is going to keep this up for three whole years more - while not being a government minister - well, it seems unlikely. He'll snap and stab somebody bigger than himself. Poof.


Yet there was presidential material right there on the TV-news on Thursday night.  A straight-up guy, a solid and loyal Chirac spear-carrier, educated, good speaker without a teleprompter, urbane, well-dressed, tanned, long-haired going silver, smooth, TALL Dominique.  Frankly, he looks too good, to be a Socialist.


Well, Alan, France managed to survive another week of its usual confusion. The fruit guys are still dumping tons of it in front of prefectures, the milk guys began giving it away to people rather that give it away to distributors, 12 million kids went back to school without many strikes, and most of the French dragged themselves back to work, hardly bitter that summer came back on the day school started.


Sunday's forecast - sunny, blue skies, and 31 degrees. 


I wish I were there.


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....