All Suri, All the Time

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Real attention seekers would have gone with a Times Square billboard. But subtler parents Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes opted for a tasteful 22-page cover story in Vanity Fair to unveil the world's most anticipated baby photo, that of their daughter, Suri Cruise.

The dark-haired infant, now four and a half months old, has been the object of intense speculation since she was nothing more than a blur on the sonogram machine her increasingly eccentric daddy brought home. Since Suri's birth in April, "we were taking our own photos and always planned to release those at the right time," Cruise said in the Vanity Fair story, which was photographed by Annie Leibovitz. But "then all the craziness began," Holmes said. "This 'Where is Suri?' controversy. Tom and I looked at each other and said, 'What's going on?' We weren't trying to hide anything." The couple's decision to reveal Suri on the magazine's cover may have been motivated by a desire to quell the controversy, but if other celeb parent efforts are any indication, it's not likely to work.

Suri has already been the subject of tabloid dissections of her birth certificate, telephoto-lens bassinet shots by paparazzi and photo-illustrations of how she might look at 20 by forensic-imaging specialists. None of these indignities was imposed upon Cruise's older children, Isabella, 13, and Conor, 11, both of whom the actor adopted with ex-wife Nicole Kidman and shielded from the press. Whether because of more protective parenting, less invasive celebrity news coverage or a public at that time more interested in Cruise's onscreen adventures than his offscreen misadventures, those children were largely left alone.

But within 24 hours of Suri's official portraits appearing on the Web Sept. 5, online discussions were already in full swing on the baby's exceptionally furry pate and blue eyes. Paparazzi still stalk Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's multi-cultural brood, even though the couple sold photos of their infant daughter, Shiloh, to People magazine last spring in a bid to raise money for charity while deflecting unwanted cameras. Britney Spears and Kevin Federline cuddled up to newborn Sean Preston on the cover of People last fall. Within months photographers so harassed Spears that she was caught on film driving her SUV away from them with babe dangerously held on lap. Despite the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin staged a perfectly lovely canoodling shot outside her obstetrician's office in 2003, flashbulbs continue to click every time the couple leave their London home with tots Apple and Moses in tow. And for years the British Royal Family has meted out attractive photos of Princes William and Harry riding polo ponies and visiting AIDS orphans, but that hasn't stopped photographers from snapping the young men drinking, nuzzling bikini-clad would-be princesses in Ibiza and, in Harry's case, impersonating Hitler at a costume party.

With her distinctive raven locks, little Suri, it seems, has now merely been marked for easier recognition by gawkers and lensmen. The good news is, pretty Suri has got years to go before her awkward phase. And by that time Lindsay Lohan's tot should be ready to crawl up and take some of the heat.