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Tom & Katie: Go ahead, pretend you're not interested...

Mike Kerwick
The Record (Hackensack N.J.)

It is a match made in Hollywood heaven: The guy who poured drinks for Elisabeth Shue, piloted fighter jets with Val Kilmer and traded courtroom jabs with Jack Nicholson is marrying the girl who spent six seasons on the WB waffling between Dawson and Pacey.

OK, so Katie may be getting the better end of this deal (at least professionally).

But that hasn't slowed the hype. Tom Cruise, 44, and Katie Holmes, 27, are scheduled to get married this Saturday in Italy. With some help from "Extra's" Jon Kelley and E! Online's Marc Malkin, we take an inside look at the latest Wedding of the Century.

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THE BASICS

The wedding is scheduled for Saturday at an undisclosed location in Italy. Reports first cited George Clooney's villa, then Mussolini's former residence on Garda Lake as the place. Denials followed. The current favorite is the Odescalchi Castle on Lake Bracciano, near Rome. The romantic, 15th-century castle - with its halls, gardens, and even a chapel nearby - can host up to 1,400 guests.

"There has been talk it might be a three-day process," Kelley said. "The first day: parties and celebrations. The second day: the official ceremony. The third day: more dedicated to a Scientology wedding."

Italy is not just a romantic destination, but also an homage to their past. The two were first spotted together in public as a couple during a trip to Italy.

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THE TIMELINE

When it began: Early 2005. After a breakup with former fiance Chris Klein, Holmes meets Cruise.

First public appearance: April 29, 2005. The couple appears together in Rome at an Italian awards show.

Jump the couch: May 23, 2005. Cruise goes on Oprah, hopping up on her couch while proclaiming his love for Holmes. It becomes a scene that is lampooned in every major media outlet. "Man, there are so many stories with people doing drugs or hurting their family and they don't get one-third the bad rap of him jumping on a sofa saying he loves somebody," Kelley said.

Engaged: June 17, 2005. Cruise proposes to Holmes from the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. She accepts.

Pregnancy/birth: Oct. 6, 2005. Cruise announces that his future wife is expecting. Holmes gives birth to baby Suri on April 18, 2006. Media reports say that Holmes is not allowed to scream or make noise while she is having the baby, a condition of the couple's belief in Scientology. Holmes, raised Roman Catholic, converted after she began dating Cruise.

Vanity Fair cover: October 2006. Months pass and few have actually seen baby Suri. Mom, dad and baby appear on the cover of Vanity Fair, ending the mystery.

Dropped by Paramount: Aug. 22, 2006. Cruise lands on his feet, resurrecting the United Artists film studio on Nov. 2, 2006.

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THE HYPE

So where does this rank?

"This is THE celebrity wedding," Malkin said. "I'm sure everyone wanted Ashton (Kutcher) and Demi (Moore), Nicole (Kidman) and Keith (Urban), Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, but Tom Cruise is so much bigger than any of these people in terms of box office, personality and longevity. This is huge."

"This one ranks up there because of Tom Cruise being one of the biggest stars on the planet," Kelley said.

Not only that, but the couple has carefully documented almost every romantic footprint of their relationship.

"We know everything every step of the way," Malkin said. "They go on a date, we knew it. They get pregnant, we knew it. They had a baby, we expected it."

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THE DRESS

Expect Armani. Malkin figures to see Holmes wearing a classy, understated dress and Cruise outfitted in a classic black Armani tux.

"He's not over the top with veils and long trains," Malkin said. "He's very simple, very modern, very minimalist."

Malkin reminded us how much Cruise loves his timeless black motorcycle jackets. You won't find him wearing purple or some exotic color pattern on his wedding day.

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THE EXES

Cruise has been down the aisle twice before, and Holmes was supposed to make the trip.

Holmes was engaged to Klein ("American Pie"). Cruise was married to Nicole Kidman and Mimi Rogers and had a very public romance with Penelope Cruz. But it would be a surprise to see any of their previous significant others at the wedding.

"You never know," Malkin said. "Hollywood is a strange place. But I don't imagine Nicole Kidman is going to be at the wedding."

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THE GUEST LIST

Cruise has made a lot of friends in Hollywood ... or at least met a lot of people who would love to be in a movie with him. According to Malkin, the wedding won't be enormous, but it won't be a small ceremony either. He figures to see Jada Pinkett Smith, Posh Spice, David Beckham and maybe Leah Remini.

"My question is, `Will Brooke Shields be at the wedding?'" Malkin wondered.

After last year's dust-up with Cruise, Shields' appearance might seem ridiculous. But, reportedly, Shields and Holmes have become friends and were separated by just a few rooms when each gave birth at the same hospital on April 18.

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THE SCRUTINY

During their courtship, Holmes got a glimpse of the camera-in-your-face, follow-your-every-move lifestyle she could come to expect.

"She was launched into a stratosphere she was nowhere near," Kelley said. "She seems like she's taking it all in stride."

Word of warning: It will only get worse.

"The scrutiny is going to be like the scrutiny of the Jennifer (Lopez) and the Ben (Affleck pairing)," Malkin said, "where if she doesn't do well in a movie, people are going to say, `See, people are just turned off by this Tom Cruise thing. If she does really well, `She's married to Tom Cruise.'"

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THE FUTURE

How long will it last? The track record isn't good for celebrity marriages. In the last few months, the seemingly solid marriages of Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe and Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe dissolved. (And of course, Britney and K-Fed didn't last.)

Hey, if Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston couldn't make it work, who can?

Careerwise, Cruise will help run the revamped United Artists studio. Holmes, Christian Bale's romantic interest in "Batman Begins," could reprise her role of Rachel Dawes in the sequel but is not yet listed among the cast of "The Dark Knight" on the Internet Movie Database.

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