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Burgeoning studio mogul Tom Cruise finally seems to realize that once his wedding-related responsibilities end with his puckish, celebratory rubbing of a tranquilizer-laced piece of cake into his new bride's mouth and her subsequent spiriting off to their honeymoon suite's Consummation Chamber, the public will expect that he return to the acting career he famously abandoned in favor of his various family-building pursuits. Variety reports that's he's chosen his next gig from among the projects he'd been circling:

Cruise next will star in "Lions for Lambs," a Robert Redford-directed drama that will co-star Redford and Meryl Streep.

Pic will be his first outing for United Artists since he and C/W partner Paula Wagner agreed to revive the shingle for Harry Sloan's MGM.

"Lambs" is a Matthew Carnahan-scripted drama that consists of three interconnected storylines: Cruise as a congressman who interacts with a journalist (Streep); Redford as an idealistic professor who attempts to inspire a privileged student in his class; and a third storyline about a pair of American soldiers wounded in enemy territory, one of whom is Redford's former student.

It's a shrewd, if ultimately safe, choice for Cruise, who's apparently decided that the best course of action for a comeback sure to be mercilessly scrutinized is to surround himself with Oscar-winning human shields. Should the project meet with eventual failure, he can deflect any critical bullets by shrugging and asking, "I don't know why the movie didn't connect with audiences. Why don't you ask the people with all the fancy awards?"