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Internet

Celebrity Web sites booming

The Net is a wellspring of celebrity information, but with the plethora of fan-created sites it is hard to tell which sources are reliable.

The stampede to register the domain names "lewinsky.com" and "lindatripp.com" as the White House sex scandal unfolded highlights how easy it is for fans and foes to launch Web sites devoted to the subjects (or objects) of their obsession.

All it takes to launch a celebrity site is some rudimentary HTML skills, the likes of a Tripod or GeoCities community to host the site, and some grainy pictures or juicy gossip about the star of choice.

The practice is booming. Today, the Associated Press compiled a list of the most popular celebrities on the Web, using Yahoo's search directory to calculate the number of sites about the famous and infamous.

TV star Gillian Anderson topped the list, with 99 sites devoted to the actress who plays Detective Dana Scully on the popular Fox series, The X-Files.

One example: the Gillian Anderson Testosterone Brigade, which is described as the backlash to the David Duchovny Estrogen Brigade, dedicated to her X-Files costar. Duchovny has a mere 41 sites devoted to him.

Actress Alicia Silverstone ranks second. Others at the top are Pamela Lee and teen band Hanson, each with more than 60 sites devoted to them.

It is unclear, though, whether the bevy of anti-Hanson sites helped to push the musical brothers into the upper echelon of Net notoriety.

Most states have privacy and publicity laws in place that protect both celebrities and private citizens when sites post objectionable information. Pamela Lee has gone to court to bar the online distribution of an X-rated home video she made with her husband, rock star Tommy Lee, and another she made with an ex-boyfriend, musician Bret Michaels.

These online tributes do offer up a wealth of insider information, though there is no way to tell how much of it is true. One tidbit: according to the Alicia Silverstone Page, Silverstone's first commercial was for Domino's pizza.