Tom Cruise, Paramount Part Ways

08/23/2006 at 09:25 AM EDT

Tom Cruise, Paramount Part Ways
Tom Cruise (left) and Sumner Redstone
INF; Evan Agostini/Getty

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures have ended their 14-year professional relationship, with the studio blaming Cruise's recent controversial behavior for the split.

Sumner Redstone, chairman of Paramount Pictures parent company Viacom, told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday that the studio would not renew its contract with Cruise's Cruise/Wagner Productions.

"It's nothing to do with his acting ability, he's a terrific actor," Redstone said. "But we don't think that someone who effectuates creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot."

Cruise starred in Paramount hits including Mission: Impossible, Top Gun and Days of Thunder, and has based his production company on the Paramount lot since 1992, the Journal reports.

But in the past year, he's made headlines by promoting Scientology, jumping on Oprah Winfrey's couch to declare his love for Katie Holmes and attacking the use of antidepressants for postpartum depression.

"As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal," said Redstone. "His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount."

Cruise's production partner, Paula Wagner, fired back, telling PEOPLE in its new issue that Redstone's comments were "undignified, outrageous and untrue." She said she and Cruise would set up their own Wall Street-financed operation.

Cruise's agent, Rick Nicita, told the Journal that Cruise was "offended" by Redstone's remarks. "This was done in an incredibly graceless way," he said.

Wagner told the Associated Press that agents for Cruise/Wagner Productions stopped negotiating with Paramount more than a week ago and had since secured independent financing.

She said she and Cruise had been considering taking their company independent "for a long time. For us, this is a very new and exciting direction. We look forward to working with all the studios."

Says Variety editor-in-chief Peter Bart: "(The split) is a challenge for (Tom) to get on with his career. … It's like a call to arms for him."

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