9-year-old Shia LaBeouf was dead-on in fame prediction

The Baltimore Sun

I'M GOING to be a big star!"

That's what 9-year-old Shia LaBeouf announced to startled and amused adults before he broke into movies. At age 11, undeterred by obscurity, he chose an agent out of the Yellow Pages and told Teresa Dalhquist what a big deal he was. He wasn't, yet, but Ms. Dalhquist was impressed. She got him work on the Disney Channel. Shia is now 21, and Dalhquist remains his agent.

I noticed Shia first in Bill Paxton's underrated golf epic, The Greatest Game Ever Played, in 2005. Since then he has scored in Bobby, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, the terrific Disturbia and the horrible Michael Bay film Tranformers.

Now Shia is all over the place - including the cover of this month's GQ - and ready for the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in which he stars opposite Harrison Ford. This is practically a sure bet box-office smash. However, in the wake of the disaster of Speed Racer, we must remind ourselves that filmmaking is truly a crap-shoot. You just never know.

Shia is a wonderful actor. And although this latest Indiana film is bound to be good under the guiding hand of Steven Spielberg, let's hope Shia shies away from more big movie franchises. They can sometimes hobble a career. Alas, Shia has another Michael Bay-directed Transformers film coming. The first made money, and that's the bottom line. But at what cost to an excellent performer like LaBeouf? Maybe the next Transformers script will be better. Maybe Shia will be allowed to behave in a more adult manner onscreen.

My advice? Go the indie route for a couple of years, kid.

Not a 'Manson Girl'

Hot on the heels of Lindsay Lohan's rumored fur-coat-snatching adventure, comes word that our young friend is out of Manson Girls, a movie about the women influenced by Charles Manson back in 1969. First word was she was "let go" because "other name actors" did not want to appear with her. The star's camp says the movie wasn't coming together swiftly enough, so she backed out.

As cynical as I am about press reps and what they'll say to divert the truth, I believe Leslie Sloane Zelnick in this matter. And I also think Lohan is well to be out of Manson Girls - it sounds exploitive and not the sort of thing Lohan should be doing. Lindsay needs a good romantic comedy or a drama that takes advantage of her strikingly mature manner. Let somebody else run around in love beads on a killing rampage.

Cruisin' for laughs

Speaking of careers in search of a new direction, Tom Cruise has seen the writing on the wall in regard to his Hilter film, Valkyrie - now ominously delayed until way into next year. So, with Ben Stiller, Tom has already filmed a broad comedy titled Tropic Thunder - looking bald and bloated. Stiller is also trying to lure Tom into another comedy, The Hardy Boys. The word from Hollywood? Tom is looking to lighten his image on and off the screen.

And if you think Tom is just "too intense" to succeed in comedy, well, that is exactly what everybody said about Robert De Niro! And today, an entire movie-going generation knows De Niro only from the comedies in which he spoofs his tough-guy-on-the-edge image.

Get ready for it. Tom Cruise, one wild and crazy guy. In a good way.

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