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STILL FAR AND AWAY

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman skip 1997 Fire & Ice Ball

In the end, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman had to deem the mission impossible. Still filming Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut in London (it keeps on going and going...), Hollywood's most famous couple had to miss their gig hosting Dec. 3's Fire & Ice Ball, the Hollywood charity event that raises money to fight breast and ovarian cancer while doubling as one of L.A.'s premier soirees. What about the Concorde, you say? According to a source, it could have cost Warner Bros., the studio behind Eyes, as much as $1.5 million -- more than half the amount raised that night -- to shut down the one-year-and-counting production for the three days it would take Cruise and Kidman to show up at Paramount studios, the ball's site. But rather than scratch their names from the bill, the captive couple sent their regards via a 47-second video, which played after stand-in hosts Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson thanked guests for supporting research into women's cancer. The attendees, including Dustin Hoffman, Mark Wahlberg, Julianna Margulies, Fran Drescher, and Kelsey Grammer, probably didn't feel terribly cheated, thanks to Isaac Mizrahi's before-dinner fashion show. During the finale, 38 scantily clad male and female models entered through a curtain of showering water and glided down the runway in swimsuits that looked more like tighty-whiteys and tank tops than beach attire. ''It was sort of like equal-opportunity eroticism,'' noted Jennifer Tilly, without complaint.

(Additional reporting by Judy Brennan)

Originally posted Dec 19, 1997 Published in issue #410 Dec 19, 1997 Order article reprints