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& ABOUT

A Declaration Especially for Independents

April 02, 1999|Irene Lacher

Anthony C. Ferrante swears he's not a geek even though he's so into sci-fi he edits an online magazine about it.

"I'm probably a little worse because my main thing is horror," Ferrante says. "I slant more into horror sci-fi than sci-fi horror. I love 'Star Wars,' but I don't care for 'Star Trek,' if that makes any sense."

It doesn't, from which we can deduce only one thing--he must be some kind of expert. Now Ferrante, who recently clocked his first anniversary putting out EON (http://www.eonmagazine.com) with Jeff Bond, is applying his pop culture expertise to something the rest of us non-geeks can appreciate--independent film. Ferrante and former Film Threat editor Paul Zimmerman recently joined forces to launch the incredibly magazine-like IF (http://www.ifctv.com).

"If we owe somebody a favor, if we think a film is entertaining or if we think it can promo our careers in some way," Zimmerman says, "that's the big if."

Pipe down. The big IF is independent film, and it joins EON in Centropolis Entertainment's small stable of e-zines. The humans behind Centropolis are "Godzilla" and "Independence Day" creators Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, so we're not surprised they'd want to back a sci-fi zine. But, hey, those guys aren't exactly in the itty-bitty film business.

"It's all about a love of film, and Dean Devlin loves film," Ferrante says.

The magazine is updated weekly and hosted by the Independent Film Channel's Web site. Look for profiles of such indie film icons as Antonia Bird and Robert Altman as well as news bits, reviews, film festival and awards coverage and a finger-in-the-socket version of Siskel and Ebert called Psycho & Egghead. IF's new business columnist is Alex Ben Block. Awhile back, Block left his post as chief ink-stained wretch at the Hollywood Reporter to cross over to an Industry job. He now reemerges as a byte-stained wretch. Welcome back.

*

If we had a nickel for every nickel George Lucas is about to make on "Star Wars: Episode I," you'd be writing your own Out & About column. And we're not even thinking about returns from the intergalactically anticipated film itself. On May 24, a week after the film comes out, LucasArts is rolling out two new video games that could vie with Squaresoft's Final Fantasy VII as the biggest sellers ever.

"Any guy in his 20s wants to get his hands on anything to do with 'Star Wars,' " says John Davison, editor in chief of Electronic Gaming Monthly, which scoops the new games in its May issue.

Davison did the math for us. Figure there are 50 million PlayStations worldwide, not to mention PCs. Final Fantasy VII's record of 7 million games sold doesn't look so unbeatable.

Meanwhile, LucasArts is refusing to let any games leave its premises, partly because one of them, "The Phantom Menace," gives away the film's plot. The other, "Racer," is based on the film's pod-race scene.

"The racers look like enormous jet engines," says Davison, who played the games at Lucas Headquarters. "It's almost like chariot racing but with space-age guys. They go 700 miles an hour."

Fasten your seat belt.

*

Barbara Lazaroff admits it. She had some work done.

Not on herself, heavens, no. Mrs. Wolfgang Puck recently returned from London, where she had a few nips and tucks taken from her wax doppelganger now under construction at Madame Tussaud's. The Pucks will perk up--in perpetuity--when a Las Vegas branch of the famous wax museum opens at the new 6,000-room Venetian Hotel in June.

"It's like making a grand candle of yourself. Wolf's comment was the best. I said, 'Don't you care about what it looks like?' He said, 'Oh, no. It can't look much worse than I look in person.' "

So chef Puck stayed home. Oh, yes, he also had this little matter of catering the Governors Ball at the Oscars to think about. And his more stylish half went off on her own for a three-hour tour of the waxworks.

"It's a strange concept, but they really take it seriously. Thirty-thousand square feet of the most extraordinary art from people who sculpt in clay. Larry King's was scary. It looks just like him. I mean it was so precise. They put the hair in one hair at a time."

Not quite yet, in the case of the faux Lazaroff, however.

"When we got there, there was no color. No eyeballs. No teeth yet. No hair. It's frightening. They forewarned me. They're getting frenetic because I'm one of the last people to finish. As usual, I'm a little late."

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Irene Lacher's Out & About column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on Page 2.

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