Network: Websites

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The Independent Culture
Hollywood Stock Exchange

Tinseltown, Tin Pan Alley and Wall Street merge at this clever and amusing site. Film stars, movies and musicians can be traded here as commodities, and visitors who register get an initial two million online "Hollywood Dollars" to build a portfolio of actors and scripts. There are details of MovieStocks and StarBonds, and bulletin boards for picking up hot tips - insider trading is legal here. Showbiz news is related to possible market effects - Woody Allen's and Shirley McClaine's prices remained steady last week at H$1,520 and H$821 - unaffected by the announcement of an American Film Institute Funniest Films Ever list. But will the return of Jar-Jar affect the market cap of upcoming Star Wars: Episode II? It is rumoured real stars log on using pseudonyms to invest in themselves, and that the site generates four times the daily trading of US stock exchanges. It's all an elaborate calling card for an e-commerce and computer systems company that's also runs some real trading sites.

Hollywood Tarot

Is type-casting really archetype-casting? Film stars are so vivid to ordinary mortals because they embody the archetypal characteristics also found in the Tarot, according to this none-too-serious site. Click for a full reading, or choose the three-card, edited-for-TV version, and if the news is ominous remember it's all just a bit of fun. Robin Williams is leader of the pack as The Fool; Charlton Heston an obvious Charioteer; and Hugh Grant the "5 of Cups: Regret". Xena, Warrior Princess (Lucy Lawless), is Princess of Swords, and The Hanged Man is - who else - Clint Eastwood as The Man with No Name. A Western History Tarot featuring Napoleon and Hitler may be in the works, and also a Star Trek deck if the rights are available. Visitors can win a Hollywood Tarot Walk of Fame Star Certificate.

Spielberg's entry into the online film fray so far consists only of a logo and a press release, but marks Hollywood's increasing commitment to the mini-movie form already distributed by such sites as and It also usefully proposes a new name for these problematic little snippets - "Pops". When it launches next year, the site, also involving Spielberg's Dreamworks partners and Ron Howard, will offer a mixture of six-minute live action films, animation, games and live events. Newcomers will be "empowered" to make their own minibudget contributions, and the idea is that established filmmakers will be able to take creative risks impossible in movies or TV. At least some of the contents, it is promised, will be viewable with a humble 28.8 modem.

Early Recorded Sounds and Wax Cylinders

Low-tech entertainment is lovingly restored at this comprehensive site. Recording of the month is the 1895 hit from Banta's Orchestra, a two-minute "And Her Golden Hair Was Hanging Down Her Back". Recording history is traced from the very first attempts using tinfoil wrapped round a hand- cranked drum to later wax versions. There's a useful FAQ; tips on the potential value of that old horn gramophone, and jokey phonograph Y2K compliance certificates.

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