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Cyber Digest

From POP.com’s flop to Julia Robert’s ongoing battle to reclaim her domain name, this week’s top internet news stories

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ALL JAMMED UP ”Breaking” news! So read the provocative subject line on an e-mail we received the other day from a freelance writer. The hoo-ha was all about … ? It turns out that ”access” to the Pearl Jam site (www.tenclub.com) was, uh, ”erratic” because fans were busily placing preorders for the band’s bootleg series documenting 25 European concerts. (Not included: the June 30 Denmark gig that left nine fans dead.) Reminder to freelancers: An erratic website does not a ”breaking” story make.

POP DREAMS The biggest news of the week was that DreamWorks’ heavily hyped but never piped POP.com and ifilm engaged in a lively mating minuet. For a few days everyone thought they were gonna get hitched and waltz happily ever after — but then the love faded, as it so often does, and the two sites went their separate, profit-seeking ways. After which POP officially went poof. The other big news of the week was …

SNARED IN THE NET … uh, but first something about Julia Roberts. Why? Easy answers: (a) It’s always safe to go with Julia, (b) Julia is America’s Actress, (c) Did we mention Julia is invariably good copy? Alas, juliaroberts.com remains in the clutch clutches of a renegade ”fan” — despite a rights organization’s ruling that he has no claim to the site. Julia has thus far failed in her attempt to evict him — and some of the material posted has gone from annoying to tasteless. Currently featured: ”Baby Animals Whose Heads Julia Has Bitten Off or Eaten Whole as Snacks.” And you thought being a star was all about cashing huge paychecks and blowing kisses to your adoring throngs.

SOUR ON SCOUR Now, back to more serious news of the Net. Scour, the search engine and file-sharing service in which Hollywood’s Michael Ovitz has a stake, laid off most of its staff the other day. Scour’s inability to attract new investors in the wake of the Napster decision — and a lawsuit brought by entertainment companies alleging that Scour’s software enabled users to steal copyrighted material — were the major factors that throttled the L.A.-based company.

EMIN WHO? Some days the excitement is too much. More than 60 million people voting at CosmoGIRL.com declared last week that Eminem is the ”Sexiest Musician Alive.” Which came as no surprise to us, certainly, but sure must have loused up Sam Harris’ day.

JUST LIKE A MOVIE And so, for the struggling screenwriter, it has come to this. Last week on eBay we spotted item #425884612 listed under FULL LENGTH SCREENPLAY. Californian Jeff Tucker is hoping someone will offer cash for his work of art, titled Starstruck. No shy guy he, Tucker then sent e-mails to the press, encouraging them to write about his eBay adventure. Seems that, at least in some ways, the guy’s a budding Joe Eszterhas.

OUT OF BUSINESS Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss confessed in the L.A. Times that she couldn’t return to her calling even if she were so inclined. ”You can get anything you want now online,” said the ex-con. As if to prove she’s still totally Hollywood, Fleiss added, ”I had a lot done.” Such as? ”Lips, eyes, boobs … Being in prison with no skin care really does a number on you.”

POST-CHASTE We don’t know exactly why SiliconValley.com picked up this story, reported by The Guardian of London, but it probably appeals to the innermost microwiring of everyone who lives at computing’s way-tense ground zero. ”An Italian psychologist has put computer microprocessors to work to produce a 21st-century version of the chastity belt,” began the story. The fascinating details — for example, a chip records the number of minutes one’s underwear has been removed — can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk.

NOTE THIS DATE: November 29th
The first annual Bandies awards show, to be held in Los Angeles, will acknowledge the best content created exclusively for broadband Internet presentation.