Ever since the shocking news broke that TomKat was divorcing, Katie Holmes and daughter Suri Cruise have been spotted all around NYC in front of the paparazzi like they were the cutest Manhattan couple since Carrie and Big. Katie and Suri's omnipresence in the public eye even inspired our own tongue-in-cheek "Suri and the City" series. Indeed, "Kuri" has been Queen.
As we had been told would happen, Tom Cruise finally reunited with his 6-year-old daughter and—wouldn't you know it—a camera was there to capture the cuteness: his first volley in a parental public-relations battle.
Some find it hard to believe it was coincidence that Tom's reunion outside a Manhattan hotel just happened to be caught on camera by a photographer. In fact, with the legendary PR-savvy Cruise on the scene, we might have to expect more images of DadKat.
"We can expect to see much more 'imaging' PR because we can assume there are explicit contractual confidentiality limitations in place that prevent any verbal pronouncements or leaks," says Howard Bragman, longtime Hollywood publicist and vice chairman of Reputation.com. "So it's PR by photo op."
Tom didn't wait long, as early today he redoubled his efforts and was spotted yet again with Suri, this time for some high-flying fun as the duo was caught boarding a helicopter in NYC.
The wave of doting-dad snapshots seems to have come just in time, as it was only last week that tabloids began noticing Cruise's absence on the parental front—and if the new surge of photo ops doesn't put an end to that chatter, the scathing statement released by Cruise's lawyer Bert Fields today will.
"The tabloids are at it again, trying to make a buck by publishing more grotesquely false claims about Tom Cruise," he said. "For example, a sleazy magazine calling itself Life & Style has a bogus cover headline that Suri has been 'ABANDONED BY HER DAD.'"
"That, as anyone knows who saw their photos together yesterday and today, is a disgusting, vicious lie. Until this week, Tom was shooting a film on location, but he spoke to Suri every day. He's with Suri right now; and he was with her the day before Life & Style trumpeted their cruelly false accusation. Tom dearly loves Suri and the last thing he would ever do is abandon her."
That, it would seem, is that. So who's winning? Most might say so far Katie. But not so fast.
Yes, before all of us could even digest news of the split, Katie was anything but shy as she and Suri went shopping, checked out the zoo, spooned sundaes, enjoyed a play date at the museum, strolled the sidewalk and hit up gymnastics class. They even checked out puppies—that is, until Suri threw a tantrum over not being able to leave the pet store with one.
Suri's adorable pet-store poutfest aside, if Katie's goal (and, to be fair, she hasn't yet commented on what her post-split strategy may or may not be) was to cement her public image as a loving, hands-on mom, she succeeded with these public displays of parenting.
But already declaring Katie the winner would be like crowning the Oklahoma Thunder NBA champs after only winning Game 1 (news flash: the Miami Heat ended up winning).
Likewise, this battle will be fought over time.
Remember that Cruise hasn't endured while navigating the controversial waters of Scientology, couch-jumping and Today show outbursts without some deft skills at crafting his media image. Even prior to seeing Tom with Suri, we saw the ever-charming star spending time with his other kids, Connor and Isabella. Rumors he was already stealing kisses with his Oblivion costar were quickly squashed.
In other words, Tom's got PR game.
"Tom is a very savvy guy who has made mistakes, but most importantly has learned from his mistakes," says image guru Bragman. "He is very private and likes a strong measure of control."
But among the undeniable winners are the paparazzi photo agencies who have been selling the images worldwide of Tom and Katie as they, and their adorable daughter, move on from the divorce in front of all our curious eyes.