N.Y. Daily News columnist George Rush ran a lead item today about the Russell Crowe/Cinderella Man meltdown in today’s “Daily Dish” column…fine. (Especially since he quoted yours truly.) But in looking at how off-screen movie star shenanigans may be affecting box-office performance, Caryn James has summed up the whole celebrity-feedbag phenomenon rather nicely in today’s New York Times. She’s saying movies are no longer about the purity of the moviegoing experience — the tabloid-gossip crap is feeding into the watching of movies and vice versa. “For the average viewer in this celebrity-crazed culture, the hype and buzz are simply part of the baggage we carry into the theater along with the popcorn and the smuggled cans of soda,” she writes. “Whether Brad Pitt and Russell Crowe are playing characters in films, playing themselves on talk shows or are caught by paparazzi at unsuspecting moments, their fictional and nonfictional roles blend into one huge performance piece that affects how we watch their films, now more than at any time since the star-making business began.” This also: “Eons ago, when movie studios could fiercely control stars’ images, there was no Smoking Gun Web site to offer instant access to their arrest reports, no computers or camera-phones to spread unglamorous images. Now the media overload creates an ambient noise around movies, a sound so pervasive that even people who don’t pay attention absorb it.” In such a hot-house atmosphere, it is no stretch to acknowledge that Crowe’s real-life phone-tossing “hasn’t benefitted” Cinderella Man. It was more damaging than that, if you ask me.