Before her well-publicized spat with Tom Cruise this spring, Brooke Shields’s career seemed more depressed than she was. But after she landed the lead in Broadway’s Chicago and a starring role in Tom Green’s upcoming Bob the Butler, things started looking up for the maudlin model. Now, sources say, Cruise’s former publicist Pat Kingsley has quietly agreed to represent Shields, in what many insiders are interpreting as a not-too-subtle slap at her former client.

Shields has been feuding with Cruise ever since the actor slammed her on the Today show for using medication to battle postpartum depression. Not surprisingly, her decision to ditch longtime publicist Karynne Tencer to join Kingsley at PMK has many Hollywood insiders buzzing. Kingsley, who reprsented Cruise for over a decade, was fired by the star last spring after she urged him to limit his pro-Scientology sermonizing. Since then, says a PMK insider, “Pat’s been pretty upfront about her disdain for Cruise. This will drive him absolutely crazy.”


Though Kingsley usually restricts her client list to Hollywood heavyweights like Al Pacino and Warren Beatty, the publicist insists that her decision to take on the former Suddenly Susan star is nothing notable. “She’s in show business and we represent people in show business,” Kingsley says, adding that she will not personally be handling the star. She also noted that the Broadway-bound actress decided to switch to PMK because she wanted stronger East Coast representation.


But sources close to Shields note that she swapped publicists days before she was scheduled to appear on Oprah to rebut Cruise’s comments. “She thought, “If I’m going to do Oprah, I want to do it right,” claims a source close to Shields. “And nobody knows how to deal with Tom Cruise better than Pat.” Kingsley denies that her contretemps with Cruise played any part in her decision to represent the actress. “I know where you’re going with this, and it’s not really the case,” says Kingsley. “Those two dots don’t connect. The situation with Tom Cruise is over. She is going on with her life, and I’m sure he’s going on with his.”


Shield’s manager, Pat Safran, also denied any ulterior motives. “Pat Kingsley is a legend in the business,” he says. “Who wouldn’t want to be represented by her?” Tencer, whose remaining stable of stars includes such luminaries as Tara ReidLara Flynn Boyle, and Paula Abdul, did not answer calls seeking comment.