Pseudo-science: The White House has denied allegations that it took up the Church of Scientology's cause in the sect's battles with the German government, in order to secure a more sympathetic portrayal of the US President from John Travolta, a high-profile member of the church. Travolta stars in the big-screen adaptation of Joe Klein's Primary Colors, the roman-a-clef that scandalised the Clinton administration on its publication in 1995. According to a US magazine interview with Travolta, a meeting between the scientologist actor and the US President - during which the offer of help to the church was made - reportedly coincided with the opening days of the Primary Colors shoot last April. Clinton's Chief Security Adviser, who also met Travolta, has since dismissed the accusations as "conspiracy theories", and Travolta himself has said that his role in Primary Colors was not discussed at either meeting.

Stellar dead certs: Who's the brightest star in the celluloid firmament? According to the Hollywood Reporter's ranking of the 400 most bankable stars in the world, Star Power '98, it's that reliable old beefcake, Tom Cruise. Leading film and studio executives marked candidates out of 100 and Cruise topped the chart with a perfect ton. The chasing pack of Gibsons, Schwarzeneggers and Willises is equally predictable, and only John Travolta (94), Nic Cage (89) and Leonardo DiCaprio (86) stand out in a dull Top 20. Old-timers Clint Eastwood (92) and Jack Nicholson (90) apparently remain box-office gold, but so, mysteriously, does the blockbuster turkey- meister Kevin Costner (89). Julia Roberts's recent A-list rehabilitation wins her the second highest female score (92), behind Jodie Foster (94). The industry still seems wary of female box-office clout, however - the next three women, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer and Sharon Stone, languish in the low eighties.