A weekly spin on the Web

By Cable Neuhaus
October 13, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

STOP THE PRESSES! How reliable is online gossip? Judge for yourself. Word from a site called TheForce.net is that Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) has a scene in the next Star Wars movie that has him standing beside a blue window. That’s right, a blue window! And how did TheForce.net (http://www.theforce.net) secure that choice cinematic exclusive? From call sheets — typed pages that detail the day’s shoots. These apparently were swiped off the set.

NAKED COMMERCE Oh, those inventively antic Barenaked Ladies — always having fun with their fans. The latest example: Ladies acolytes eager to locate free downloads from the band’s new album, Maroon, are finding what appear to be perfectly good cuts from the CD at such file-swapping sites as Napster. The songs sound fine — but just for a moment. Turns out they’re mock marketing pitches for the aforementioned album. First you get a sample of Barenaked music, but it’s quickly interrupted by a jarring pitch: ”Although you thought you were downloading our new single, what you actually were downloading is an advertisement for our new album,” teases singer Steven Page in one of the Trojan horse files.

PUFF PIECE Digitrends.net reports that Sean ”Puffy” Combs will be selling items from his clothing line at hip-hop site Hookt.com and that the New York-based music impresario will also provide ”strategic direction” to the site’s founders. Well, you would hope so. He’s now a partner in Hookt.com.

LOST & FOUND You can’t turn a corner these days without bumping into Richard, Rudy, Jenna, or one of their fellow Survivors, all of whom are well into their 16th minute of fame. How do you think that makes Jeff Probst feel? The guy was only the host of the summer’s mega-hit TV series, fergawdsakes, but you don’t see him on all the morning shows. Still, that doesn’t mean he’s invisible. Just the other day he showed up to help launch a new site, SmartBargains.com, at a Studio 54 event in Manhattan. We can’t quite see the connection between SmartBargains.com and Probst’s tribal councils, but then we also never gave Richard Hatch a chance in hell of winning a million bucks.

SCATHING NEWS It’s too soon to know if Deadline, NBC’s new dramatic series about a crusading college journalism professor, will attract critical raves. But it’s already drawn a critical barb from a Northwestern University prof who some believe is the real-life inspiration for the Oliver Platt starrer. ”When I read the script, I was dismayed,” journalism Prof. David Protess says online in Northwestern’s newspaper (www.dailynorthwestern.com). ”[It] was so close to the work I’ve done with my students.” Protess, known for helping students unearth fresh evidence in criminal cases, referred to the show’s ”hero” as someone who ”seriously deceives sources … severing journalistic rules I wouldn’t consider doing.” Said the show’s coexec producer Dick Wolf: ”It is decidedly not based on David Protess.”

IN POOR SPIRITS? Isaac Tigrett — cofounder of those ubiquitous Hard Rock Cafés and founder of the House of Blues chain — may be feeling blue over a lawsuit stemming from the launch of his latest venture — TheSpiritChannel.com, a site dedicated to spiritual seekers. IXL, an e-business outfit, claims Tigrett failed to pay about $320,000 of a $550,000 bill for development of an e-business plan. Says a ”shocked” Tigrett: ”I have no intention of paying them for something that was not delivered. [IXL’s plan] was college material.”

Last day to gig for iCAST College Comedy Bake-Off — a search for America’s funniest college student (icast.com). Jacksonville, Fla., is the final stop of the 25-campus tour.