Online Oscars: Straight from the star's mouth

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The Independent Online

Founder of the Webby Awards, Tiffany Shlain, selects the best celebrity sites ahead of this year's awards

Beastie Boys

With its retro design and abundance of music, this is catnip for Beastie fans, especially professional ones: DJs will love the A Capella Download section, in which the Boys make freely available a bunch of tunes for creating remixes. The funky mix of "crap" - their word, not mine - runs the gamut from funny videos ("Solid Gold Teeth" is a hoot) to community forums. Good times, homey, good times.

David Bowie

Demigod David Bowie helped make virtual cool with BowieNet, which dedicated fans were dialing directly in to before most even knew the Web existed. This fan community is now more than a decade old, a collaborative creative realm that throbs with music, photography, discourse and the inspiring presence of His Highness himself. Bowie was the first to explore the artistic possibilities of the Web, and he's still pushing the envelope with this opulent, inventive site.

Eddie Izzard

Few celeb sites capture their subjects as well as this one: Izzard's outrageously expansive personality is present in everything from the colour scheme to his wickedly deadpan voice greetings on every page. (A site with sound that doesn't make you dive for the Sound Off button? Finally! Kudos to London agency Clock, which created it.) Neatest feature: Eddie sends text messages to your phone. Viva digital convergence.


That's Madonna: always at the cutting edge. The innovative Madonna Tagging feature combines fan interaction with photo tagging (translation: indexing) to create what will eventually be a massive database of images of the star with fans, in concert, blonde, not-blonde, et cetera. But really pushing the envelope of outreach to fans is the Confess feature, by which fans tells all their sins to the Material Girl and then hear them podcasted to the world. Groovy.


Little kids love to surf, but so few sites are geared to how they interact with the world. This one, though, you can let them roam free on... and they'll want to, too. It has an extremely visual design that encourages lots of clicking without too much intensive reading to confound the tykes. (Adults who grew up with the Muppets and still get a kick out of their subversive humor will have fun exploring Muppet Studios, too.)

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver grabbed more fans with his crusade to turn school food into something resembling, well, food, and his site - gorgeously designed by Poke London - is bursting with exactly the kind of enthusiasm you'd expect from a guy who'd take on the education system. His online diary keeps fans and foodies in touch with his latest doings, and the easy but scrumptious recipes will have even novices running for the kitchen.

Pearl Jam

Can "bootlegs" be "official"? Pearl Jam cares not for semantics: the band is merely devoted to ensuring its fans have access to the widest variety of Pearl Jam music. The hot spot is the archive of 80 concerts, downloadable song by song: you could burn a CD with a dozen versions of "Jeremy", and no band lawyers would come a'suin'. Join the Ten Club, and you can buy gig tickets before the casual so-called fans. Sweet.

Anita Roddick

The Body Shop founder has turned her site into a bully pulpit for the many causes to which she lends her support, from fighting child abuse and corporate greed to working for world peace and entrepreneurship. A regular presence at the site, Roddick's personal voice is always a positive one - even when decrying injustice, she never flags in her vocal belief that a motivated public can enact dramatic change for the better.

J K Rowling

The new site from Britain's best-loved writer is as rich a tapestry as the magical world she invented for young Harry Potter. The metaphor that powers the site's design - the writer's cluttered desk - is a marvel of beauty and efficiency. It's as much fun to explore the site as it is to discover the glorious titbits packed away in it, such as the author's background notes on characters. Rowling's young readers will certainly like the site, but her grown-up devotees will love it.

Adam Sandler

Smart move from a guy who can't help but command a screen - TV, cinema, whatever - with his adolescent antics: his site is jam-packed with quick downloadable video, of the goofball extraordinaire at work, hanging out, goofing off... just basically being the regular schmo that endears him to his fans. Don't miss the videos starring Matz, his hilarious bulldog.

Andy Warhol

The man is long departed, but his 15 minutes are never up. This tribute from the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is as weirdly riveting as Warhol's work. In fact, this is, in a way, Warhol's work, an exploration of the time capsules he created from the ephemera of his life - letters, photos, magazines and more. The most intimate look we'll ever have of the artist.

Bruce Willis

Passion: it's the one thing that defines this very personal celeb site. Whether he's discussing the last Steinbeck novel he read, romancing his dogs, imploring fans to donate to disaster relief, or yapping about SpongeBob, there's no question that the actor/producer/musician is a man who lives life to the fullest. All celeb sites should be this delightfully revealing.