Posted by: Kath Usitalo | December 28, 2011

Contest Corner: On The Red Carpet With Tom Cruise

Win a trip to NYC and enjoy a wintry day at Central Park

Movie fans or anyone looking for a couple of days in New York City should complete a simple online entry form at You could find yourself in the Big Apple for the January 2012 premiere of the movie One for the Money starring Katherine Heigl.

It’s possible; it happened to me. Different movie premiere, similar minor effort. Big payoff.

Poster ready for autographs

All I did was enter once at the Detroit Free Press Facebook page to win a Paramount Pictures trip for two to the red carpet and December 19 premiere of Mission:Impossible 4 – Ghost Protocol.

A couple of weeks later T.J. and I were on our way to NYC for a few days of royal treatment and a star-studded evening at the Ziegfeld Theatre with M:I 4 actors Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg and other celebs. Plus 38 other winners from across the country who had entered similar contests in their hometowns (though everyone we chatted with won their prizes through radio station, not newspaper contests).

We were met at the airport on a sunny Sunday by our driver Fernando, who whisked us away in a deluxe black Lincoln Town Car to our home for two nights at the W Hotel Times Square, on Broadway.

A welcoming champagne at The Russian Tea Room

That evening there was a party for the winners at the legendary Russian Tea Room, where the vodka and champagne flowed, and we nibbled caviar and supped on Beef Stroganoff.

Monday was a beautiful day for walking and absorbing the NYC holiday vibe, gazing at windows decorated for Christmas, couples in Central Park and skaters at Rockefeller Center.

At 4 p.m. we boarded the coach with the other winners to head to the Big White Tent over the Long Red Carpet outside of the Ziegfeld Theatre on 54th Street. It’s a 1,169-seat, single-screen movie house, which makes it a popular venue for premieres.

Our group was ushered into the ringside spots along the red carpet where we stood and watched the opposite side of the tent fill with camera-toting and microphone-gripping media types from around the world, from E! to the grocery store publications. They took their assigned places, each spot marked with a piece of white paper with the name of the outlet.

Reporters wait for the red carpet action to begin

We landed across from Chinese, German and other international reporters. And something called PopSugar; click on that link and as PopSugar reporter Allie Merriam talks up the movie, at about :30, you can catch a glimpse of yours truly in the background (on the left) chatting with fellow contest winner Mary from Los Angeles.

Someone passed out mini movie posters suitable for autographs, and we stood and waited for the stars to arrive. And stood and waited and watched as media people chatted with each other and practiced their intros, and badge-wearing staffers hustled back and forth on the red carpet.

Finally, Katie Holmes hurried past, ahead of hubby Tom Cruise—but didn’t stop for photos or autographs.

Then the stream of cast, crew, and a handful of other celebrities began. Actors from the movie and others who just came to see (and be seen), plus those who worked behind the scenes on the film.

M:I 4's Jeremy Renner

Check out the slide show (below) for some of those who strolled by including Alan Thicke, father-in-law to M:I 4 babe Paula Patton.

A few of the photos are blurry because the red carpet action became a blur as the pace picked up and we tried to take photos and nab the autographs of M:I 4 actors Josh Holloway and Michael Nyquist, producer J.J. Abrams, director Brad Bird and screenwriter Josh Appelbaum. I shoved the pen at someone who looked important and, as he scribbled his name he volunteered, “I wrote the music.” Thank you for the tip, composer Michael Giacchino. (Good job on the score, by the way.)

Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Tom Cruise seemed to be having fun with the whole process, posing for pictures, chatting, signing the posters—even though they’d recently been through the same routine in Germany, Dubai, Mumbai, Spain, Brazil and who knows where else. “Of course they look like they’re enjoying it,” said T.J. “They’re actors.” Still, we were swept up in the excitement.

The other Tom, TJ and Kath

When Tom Cruise paused and asked me if I wanted to have a photo taken I said, yes, turned to T.J. and said, “With my husband, the other Tom.” The actor grinned, shook T.J.’s hand and said, “I’m the other Tom.” What a guy.

The movie, as you must have seen or read by now, is an action-packed blast. Don’t miss it.

And be sure to enter (no later than January 13) for your shot at that trip to New York. I don’t know the details of the One for the Money contest, but it’s certainly worth the few seconds it takes to fill out the online entry form.

And I do know that you can’t win if you don’t enter!

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  1. I am duly impressed. So did you think he still has the looks?

  2. Absolutely. He is really good looking and I admit to being a bit starstruck, especially when he took my hand (okay, maybe I took his after he shook TJ’s hand). Impressive how much time he took with each person along the line.

  3. Well look at YOU! How fun!
    Happy New Year….how are you going to top that?

    • I’m hoping to win the Lotto 😉
      Happy 2012 to you, too, Laurel.

  4. I like the picture. Very nice!

  5. at first I thought it was a fantasy-a storey you had made up until I saw the pictures. What a wonderful experience! Sandy

  6. Great pictures!! Especially the one of you and your two Tom’s. Looks like it was a whirlwind but fantastic! Saw the movie today and it was quite the thrill ride.

  7. Very nice pictures! After seeing the movie today, Tom is as good looking as ever. You know first hand since you got such a close up of him. Lucky you! I recommend the movie.

  8. Ladies…enter to win that trip for the One for the Money premiere! Glad you liked the movie.

  9. WOW! What great fun! You guys look so real. I guess I was mistaken in thinking that Tom Cruise was a cardboard prop (in the shot with the two of you). Ellie V.

    • He does look like cardboard, but he was there in the flesh!

  10. How very cool! Picture is fantastic. I’ve not seen any of these movies but now I might have to see this one!

    • It was a lot of fun. Both the trip and the movie. See it on the big screen, not TV.

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