September 06, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Mail

The Vin Diesel engine kept revving as readers weighed in on our bold and beautiful cover man (#665, Aug. 2). ”Thanks for Benjamin Svetkey’s excellent article on this superhero-in-waiting,” says Massapequa, N.Y.’s Herb Stark. ”His rock-’em, sock-’em style is a welcome relief from the Jean-Claude Van Damme/Dolph Lundgren action flicks.” Others have no taste for what they consider to be an overstuffed hero. ”Vin Diesel is the next Hollywood star?” asks John Holden of Wilmington, N.C. ”Hollywood is in worse shape than I thought.” Maybe they’ll reconsider; TV critic Ken Tucker’s opinion of CBS’ The Guardian improved with time. ”I am so glad to see you had a change of heart,” raves Deborah Young-Groves of Kitchener, Ontario. ”After all, it was your mildly disparaging review from December 2001 that intrigued me enough to give the series a try.” Proving once again that even bad press can be good press.

Vin Some, Lose Some

VIN DIESEL is an inspiration to me. It’s great to see a guy who worked hard and used his brain (and brawn) to turn himself into a star. He dreamed big, and his dreams came true. Thanks for an insightful article about a very determined man. JOHN WILLIS j.willis@rocketmail.com Boston

I really admire the fact that Vin Diesel doesn’t care how he’s perceived, racewise. He can be all races to all people. He is a representative of many nationalities. Hollywood has this cookie-cutter version of what a leading man is often supposed to look like: blond with blue eyes, etc. Vin is setting a new standard on what a leading man should really be: intelligent, charismatic, talented, and very sexy! LIZ VALENTINE lizvalentine1@hotmail.com Chicago

Vin Diesel’s zero-integrity character in XXX embodies all the attributes of this new generation of live fast, spend hard, and don’t leave a legacy of anything of substance or value. Give me the James Bonds (any of them), Bruce Willis’ John McClane, or any of Schwarzenegger’s action heroes. Despite their cocky, tough-guy exteriors, they stood for something bigger than fast cars, hot chicks, and the power of the almighty buck! JACQUELINE LUCIANO Cranston, R.I.

Forget all the survivors, Moles, and American Idols! For indisputable proof that anyone can now become a celebrity, I give you your cover showcasing that lummox, Vin Diesel. SCOTT FIEN sc813@aol.com Brockport, N.Y.

Freedom Fighter

As a faithful reader of EW, I was disheartened when I read The Shaw Report (Scout). Ms. Shaw stated ”red, white, and blue” is ”five minutes ago,” insinuating patriotism and freedom are trends or fads that we follow. As a member of the armed forces dedicated to protecting freedom, I invite Ms. Shaw to live in a Third World country as a second-class citizen due to her gender. She may just find that freedom, and symbols thereof, is more than a fervor created by 9/11/01. MICHAEL BAYER m.bayer@attbi.com Sacramento

Calling in Shtick

Not sure what was ”fresh and randy” about Austin Powers in Goldmember, according to Lisa Schwarzbaum’s review (Movies). Could it be all those jokes resurrected from the second movie? The shtick with the sexual shenanigans and the shadows (again), the shtick where Dr. Evil raps (again), the shtick between Scott and Dr. Evil (yet again)? What in the name of Mini-Me was fresh here? LLOYD HUMMEL Los Angeles

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