Less than one week afterViacom chief Sumner Redstone banished Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner from theParamount kingdom, the pair has struck a development deal with an investmentfirm headed by Washington Redskins owners Daniel Snyder.

The deal with First AndGoal, which is also headed by Dwight Schar, chairman of the homebuildingconglomerate NVR, and Mark Shapiro, president of amusement park giant SixFlags, gives Cruise/Waqner Productions development and overhead costs for twoyears with an option to renew.

Financial terms were notrevealed, however some reports have suggested it is less than $3m a year, farlower than the much-maligned annual stipend of $10m that Cruise and Wagnerreceived during their 14-year association with Paramount.

The deal will allowCruise/Wagner to work with any studio and does not preclude the star fromappearing in projects from other production companies.

Speculation about whether ornot Paramount and Cruise/Wagner Productions would renew their deal, due toexpire on Thursday [Aug 31], has consumed Hollywood for several monthsfollowing the disappointing box office performance of Mission: ImpossibleIII and Cruise's increasingly publicdisplays of eccentricity.

The debate ended abruptlylast week when Redstone said in the press that the studio would not be renewingthe contract, and cited Cruise's conduct and its impact on the success of hisfilms, as well as his huge profit share deals, as the reasons for parting ways.

Wagner promptly retortedthat she and Cruise were in the process of raising $100m in financial backingfrom hedge funds, but so far had declined to name the funds.