At least in Hollywood, Tom Hanks is the man. Last month the 45-year-old actor became the youngest recipient of the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. He has two Oscar-bait films due this year: this week’s Road to Perdition and December’s Catch Me If You Can — which happens to be directed by friend and former youngest AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Steven Spielberg. And, of course, he’s the nicest guy in town. Yet, go to TomHanks.com and you’ll find…nothing. Not even a ”404 Error” message. (Even Toy Story chum Tim Allen has an official website, for Woody’s sake!) Fortunately, we’ve tracked down enough tribute sites and cyber-miscellany devoted to the onetime Mr. Gump to fill anyone’s one red shoe.
AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD (afi.com/tv/laa2002) Beyond a fairly salient essay analyzing Hanks’ career and a charming collection of personal and professional anecdotes from the actor himself, there’s very little by way of Hanks’ actual life here. Only after perusing pages devoted to past winners — among them Henry Fonda, Sidney Poitier, Billy Wilder, and Hanks’ pop-culture doppelganger, Jimmy Stewart — does Hanks’ rightful place in the greater canon of cinema’s luminaries become crystal clear. B-
TOM HANKS LAND (tomhanksland.com) TOM HANKS APPRECIATION SOCIETY (tomhanksweb.com) No, it’s these two sites you should visit if you want a true panorama of Hanks’ career. If you can get past the jumpy graphics of Tom Hanks Land, you’ll find some interesting Tom trivia (he apparently made $800 on his first film, a 1980 slasher flick called He Knows You’re Alone) and a very thorough collection of photos (including one from his 1988 wedding to Rita Wilson). Still, the Appreciation Society is the place to go for an online study of his body of work. There you’ll find nuggets on practically every appearance by Hanks in film and on TV, including early 1980s guest shots on Taxi, Family Ties, and The Love Boat. You can even read drafts of the screenplays for Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, and Joe Versus the Volcano. What’s not to love? Land: C+ Society: B+
Of course, there are the inevitable Web curiosities. The Forrest Gump Dance Page! (tvdance.com/forrestgump) is the sort of mindless diversion that gets forwarded on to friends (or foes, depending). An online collection of Turner & Hooch audio clips (wavsite.com/sounds.asp?ID=87) could make you surprisingly nostalgic for what Hanks has called one of his most challenging movies. But it’s the Bosom Buddies Home Page (members.ozemail.com.au/~peterv/bb) that truly deserves your attention. A complete episode guide, a history of the show’s rise and fall (including some prescient pro-Hanks reviews), and a kicky MIDI version of Billy Joel’s ”My Life,” the show’s original theme song, all conspire to beg the question: Is Peter Scolari ever going to catch a break?