Peter Jackson and Ken Starr made headlines this week.

TOLKIEN GESTURE A mainstream Hollywood director getting chummy with the operator of a guerrilla gossip website known for infuriating movie studios seems about as likely as Bill Clinton calling Matt Drudge with a hot tip. So it was fairly surprising when Peter Jackson, who will direct the upcoming live-action feature of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, e-mailed Harry Knowles, who runs the Ain’t It Cool News movie-gossip site, and offered to personally answer a selection of questions from J.R.R. Tolkien devotees. It worked: 14,000 queries poured in over 36 hours, and Jackson addressed the 20 best. Jackson plans to address online inquiries every three months or so. ”I’ve been a fan of the site for a long time,” says Jackson, who uses Ain’t It Cool News to keep up with Hollywood from his New Zealand home. ”You have to remember that I’m a geek as well. I’m just fortunate enough to be a geek with a camera.” Meanwhile, Knowles, who’s come under studio fire for leaking plot points and creating negative buzz on would-be blockbusters, feels vindicated. Says Knowles, ”I’ve been saying for a long time that if you’re confident in your project, you have nothing to fear from our site.”

BOOK ‘EM Now that the quickie Starr Report paperbacks are flying off the shelves (all three — from PublicAffairs, Prima, and Pocket Books — are in’s top 100), let the presidential piggybacking begin! Just days after Ken Starr’s salacious account of the Monica Lewinsky scandal hit the streets, Citadel Press rereleased two 1995 titles, hoping to ride the Gap-dress coattails — both The Dysfunctional President and Presidential Sex feature Lewinsky updates as of May ’98. Meanwhile, Cumberland House and St. Martin’s are hoping The Starr Report will reignite interest in their related titles — White House: Confidential and Sex Lives of the Presidents, respectively — both of which were published earlier this year. ”Everything surrounding the President and this controversy is really skyrocketing,” says Keri Cappadona of Carol Publishing, parent company of Citadel. And considering the history of ”inappropriate behavior” in the White House, these volumes may have a very long shelf life. ”Honestly,” laughs Wesley O. Hagood, author of Presidential Sex, ”I think I could spend the rest of my life updating this book.”