Date: 2001/04/22 Sunday Page:
001 Section: SPOTLIGHT
Celebs in cyberspace
Stars serve up poetry, prose and pix on their personal Web sites
By LISA ROSE STAR-LEDGER STAFF
Lily Tomlin calls it home. Jennifer Aniston's a regular, too.
Barbra Streisand, Melanie Griffith and Michael Madsen also frequent this hot
Nope, it's not Spago at noon. It's the Internet, where
celebrities en masse are flocking to launch official Web pages.
While most entertainment sites aren't very entertaining,
with all the personality of a processor chip, a growing number of stars are
trying to jazz up the Net, cozying up to fans through character-driven home
Actors and models, comics and divas are laying out the
virtual welcome mat, inviting surfers into their online abodes. Going wired,
celebs have a place where they can kick back and get whimsical, revealing sides
of themselves never glimpsed on celluloid.The Web's a world askew, where
Steven Seagal riffs like Hendrix, Jimmie Walker weighs in on politics, Jeff
Bridges twangs, Cindy Crawford critiques literature, Melanie Griffith gets metaphysical
and Sean Young shills holistic bubble bath (see accompanying story).
Lily Tomlin's dot-com outpost (www.lilytomlin.com) is
a hypertext playground with candid photos, color-tossed animation, droll sound
bites and random kitsch.
"Anything that tickles me goes on my site," said Tomlin,
via cell phone from Los Angeles, where she's shooting "Orange County," a film
co-starring Kevin Kline and Catherine O'Hara.
"You want to have things that are quirky and personal
and humorous," said Tomlin. "I'll post footage of my mother doing something
dear and funny. The Net is the perfect place for those small moments that a
larger audience might not appreciate"
A jigging space ship greets guests at Tomlin's digital
doorstep, and the menu page features a morphable mug shot that winks and simpers
with mouse strokes. She lets visitors peer in on acupuncture sessions, and her
high school prom pictures are reconfigured into a point-and-click comedy series.
Don't skip the Cheese Museum, where patchouli air freshener, poodle ice sculptures
and other objets d'fromage are on display.
"There was no master plan," said Tomlin. "The site was
one of those things where you start playing and adding things and free-associating.
It's like having your own 24-hour show, a place where you can fool around and
create stuff and be eclectic and personal and everything's connected."
Tomlin's Web dwelling was drafted by Bubbles the Artist,
a k a Allee Willis, a painter and Grammy-winning songwriter, whose credits include
the "Friends" theme song, "Boogie Wonderland" by Earth, Wind & Fire and the
Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance."
"Ninety-nine percent of the Web is click on the blue
shoe and link to the blue shoe," said Willis. "If only celebrities realized
that they can approach the Web with the same verve that they approach their
movies and TV shows with, the Net could be a much funnier place."
Bubbles also teamed up with Jennifer Aniston on Jen XX
(www.jenxxonvoxxy.com), a counter-Cosmo online mag where make-up doesn't matter,
thinner isn't happier and boys aren't everything. Part of the Voxxy.com entertainment
network, the site is a "Roger Rabbit"-esque environ where the "Friends" star
jaunts through a series of cartoon landscapes.
Jen XX is filled with "click me" interactivity. On the
weight page, you can select the fudge sundae to watch toothpick models plump
up or choose the bananas to drop the poundage. The makeover area lets fans outfit
Aniston with afro wigs, Groucho noses, day-glo sunglasses and flicking tongues.
"The media has such a powerful influence on young girls,"
said Aniston, via e-mail. "There is a tendency to place celebrities on pedestals,
leaving young girls pressured to live up to unrealistic expectations."
Aniston didn't know that Willis had written the theme
song to her NBC show when the pair began putting the site together, recording
spoken word snippets and snapping photos to cut and re-animate.
"She came to my house the first time to take some photos,"
said Willis. "We walked into the studio to record some sound clips and out of
the corner of her eye, she saw the "Friends' sheet music on the wall. She froze
and turned green. It went from "I dig this chick' to "she's a stalker.' Finally,
someone told her that I'd written that song."
Most stops on the cyber walk of fame aren't quite as
palatial as Bubbles' projects. Some hypertext homes of the stars are as cozy
and intimate as the personal pages uploaded by non-celebs.