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July 11, 2000 10:56pm
Celeb Portal Launched
Source: Reuters/Variety
by: Marc Graser

(HOLLYWOOD, CA) -- Celebrities may be one step closer to gaining control over their identities on the Web through CelebSites.com, which is creating official sites for hundreds of stars such as John Travolta and Denzel Washington.

The nascent Los Angeles- and Phoenix-based dot-com allows stars to protect their images online and also to market their films or TV shows.

For example, Diane Lane's dot-com pushed ``The Perfect Storm'' Mel Gibson's site promoted ``The Patriot'' and Bill Paxton's destination will help sell Sony's upcoming ``Vertical Limit.''

On its own, CelebSites operates as a portal to its stable of celebrity sites. The company is also installing computer stations in entertainment PR agencies, enabling publicists to update online celebrity press kits and help try to dispel rumors that often plague fan-created destinations. Links to more than 75,000 approved fan sites are also included.

``In the Internet age, celebrity rumors and other misinformation can spread like wildfire,'' said producer Brad Krevoy (``Dumb and Dumber''), who is chairman of CelebSites.

``We know we can't control those who choose to be purposely malicious, but we can provide a clearinghouse of accurate data for those inside and outside the entertainment industry. If people come to see CelebSites as a reliable source, that's the best we can do in protecting stars and their online reputations,'' Krevoy said.

Other sites, such as CelebSt.com, eStar and Celebrityblvd.com, offer similar services.

Actors with Web sites do not receive stock in the company, nor are they allowed to invest in CelebSites. Specific investors will be announced later.

CelebSites founder Neal Andres, who serves as president and CEO, began developing and maintaining official Web sites for actors Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Lane and Illeana Douglas in 1996. He has since registered more than 1,700 domain names, many of which came from Kansas minister Rob Moritz. Moritz began buying the names when his daughter stumbled on a porn site hosted on a star's name. Moritz handed the names to CelebSites.

Celebs either use the company to create their own sites or request the Web addresses for their own use. Stars who have asked for their own dot-com names include Charlton Heston, Billy Crystal and David Spade.

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