Arson Squad Blows Up News Rack, Tom Cruise Movie to Blame

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A newspaper promotion for Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible III” movie was off to an explosive start when a California arson squad blew up a news rack, thinking it contained a bomb.

The confusion: the Los Angeles Times rack was fitted with a digital musical device designed to play the Mission: Impossible theme song when the door was opened. But in some cases, the red plastic boxes with protruding wires were jarred loose and dropped onto the stack of newspapers inside, alarming customers.

Sheriff’s officials said they rendered the news rack in Santa Clarita, a suburb about 55 kilometres north of downtown Los Angeles “safe” after being called to the scene by a concerned individual who thought he’d seen a bomb.

Times officials said the devices were placed in 4,500 randomly selected news boxes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in a venture with Paramount Pictures designed to turn the “everyday news rack experience” into an “extraordinary mission.”

It was just that, at least for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arson squad, which destroyed the box.

“This was the least-intended outcome. We weren’t expecting anything like this,” said John O’Loughlin, the Times’ senior vice-president for planning.

The devices are to remain in the boxes until May 7, two days after the film is scheduled to open.

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