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Confidential

Oscar Fever Infects a Virtual E-Cast of Characters

March 23, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

It's Oscar week, and Hollywood is up to its eyeballs in parties, many hosted by fledgling Internet sites like Iam.com, which hosted its fete Tuesday at Quixote Studios.

The site is a place for aspiring actors, models and musicians to post multimedia portfolios of their work, including head shots, demo tapes and VHS reels of monologues or dance routines. There is a onetime $75 membership fee, then a $9.95 monthly fee.

"The entertainment industry is desperate for new talent, and with the Internet, there is only going to be a need for more content and more talent," said Edward Menicheschi, who left his post as associate publisher of Vogue magazine to become Iam.com's chief marketing officer.

Free content on the site includes interviews with acting coach Cameron Thor and Jane's Addiction drummer Steven Perkins, audition tips and chat rooms for networking.

Iam.com (http://www.iam.com) launched earlier this month with a cyber casting call for a Spike Lee-directed television commercial to air--when else?--during the Academy Awards broadcast Sunday.

With directors now able to cast projects from their desktops without going through agents, should the suits at ICM and CAA fear for their jobs?

"Absolutely not," said Menicheschi. "Agents have already told us they want to put their talent on the site." If anyone gets hurt, he said, it will be Federal Express and messenger services.

*

The retail explosion continues on Melrose Avenue, which has managed to become a hip shopping street--again. Clustered around Fred Segal at Crescent Heights Boulevard are Miu Miu, Betsey Johnson, Daryl K, Emma Gold (for shoes) and now Costume National.

Designer Ennio Capasa, in town for the store's opening bash Monday, said he has had a great fondness for L.A. since he first visited last year. "It's very sexy and cool. Lots of energy."

The 3,000-square-foot space, which opened Wednesday, is just about the most spartan space I've ever seen. Where are the clothes? I did spot a sexy pink python jacket looking lonely in the corner. If I only had $2,500 to spare. . . .

*

A few thoughts on the great Twinkie shortage of 2000. . . . A Teamsters strike that began last week has shut down bakeries and is causing scarcities of Wonder Bread, Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies along the East Coast from Maine to Washington.

The area has to cope without deliveries of about 2 million Twinkies and Cupcakes per week and 400,000 loaves of Wonder Bread, according to the Associated Press.

Hmmm . . . could it be that Hostess is orchestrating the caper for publicity purposes?

Perhaps Hostess is taking its cues from high fashion designers. Miuccia Prada and Tom Ford bank on the shortage theory season after season: Advertise the Gucci turquoise python-print gown and the Prada bowling bag in every magazine on Earth, then produce only a limited number of the items. The resulting fashion frenzy ensures the items will sell like hot cakes (or cupcakes), usually before they even hit store shelves. It's brilliant (and maddening).

Am I the only one who thinks no one would even notice a Twinkie shortage on the West Coast? After all, it's Academy Awards season and nobody's eating much of anything, especially not yellow cream-filled sponge cakes. Why? Gotta fit into that hard-to-find Gucci.

Booth Moore can be reached at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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