Z.com

Entertainment content sites are a dime a dozen on the Web, with most destined to blip into obscurity due to hard-to-download selections that are frequently not challenging or irritatingly overmarketed to Gen-Xers. But Z.com manages to avoid these pitfalls, giving the user consistently engaging entertaining content that's both easy-to-access and figures to appeal to a wide range of Netizens.

Entertainment content sites are a dime a dozen on the Web, with most destined to blip into obscurity due to hard-to-download selections that are frequently not challenging or irritatingly overmarketed to Gen-Xers. But Z.com manages to avoid these pitfalls, giving the user consistently engaging entertaining content that’s both easy-to-access and figures to appeal to a wide range of Netizens.

The first entertainment effort from uber-incubator Idealab!, Z.com has signed talent ranging from Jerry Bruckheimer to Ellen DeGeneres to Oliver Stone to provide content for the site.

For the explosions and car crash crowd, Bruckheimer’s section offers downloads from all of the helmer’s previous works and news about the upcoming “Coyote Ugly” and “Pearl Harbor.” There’s a community site where fans can post messages about the films and ask Bruckheimer questions.

DeGeneres submits daily video journals from the road as she embarks with her entourage on a 78-day cross-country standup comedy tour. For low-bandwidth Internet users, there’s a photo scrapbook. It’s all any Ellen ‘n’ Anne fan could ever want.

Stone’s contribution so far is a preview of the discussions he hopes to engender on an array of topics: “both in and around movies, but not necessarily limited as such.” The promo is a little too MTV, with jarring jump cuts and blowhard sentiments flashing on the screen, but it definite gives off the classic Stone attitude.

All of the celebrity content requires a broadband connection to view to avoid taking too long to download. But unlike a lot of entertainment sites, Z.com has a “QuikBitz” section that has fewer, less complicated — yet still amusing — offerings for the majority of Internet users who are still hooked up via modem.

The clever “Stolen E-Mail” section gives imaginary excerpts of messages between bigshots, like this missive from Bill Gates to Janet Reno: “After careful consideration, it has become clear to me just how fortunate we are. While we have lost an economic battle and shareholders will suffer, none of our employees were brutally gunned down by ATF and FBI agents in a pre-dawn assault on our compound.”

Animation is a standard component of sites that can be viewed with relative ease by both the high- and low-bandwidth user.

Z.com offers several Webtoons, among them: “Mr. Resistor,” a futuristic tale from Will Vinton Studios, and, on the other end of the spectrum of good taste, “The Rotten Fruit,” which will prevent you from looking at the produce aisle the same way ever again.

“Dare for Dollars,” a series of Webisodes that gives Netizens the opportunity to watch people bathe in bugs and bowl naked for money, continues the sophomoric humor. Netizens can submit their own dare proposals under the limits of the law.

Another bad-taste winner is “The Prankster,” which features comedian Doug Stanhope giving free psychic advice to unwitting passers-by.

Z.com also has content to get music fans to tune in. A division of the site is dedicated to outtakes from the most recent Red Hot Chili Peppers tour.

‘Net watchers have said that all the good beachfront property is gone in the online arena — pretty much everything that is starting up now runs the risk of having Netizens greet it with a “been there, seen that” kind of attitude.

But with big talent and money behind it — and offerings that cater to users with a spectrum of tastes and access speeds — Z.com stands a better chance than most entertainment sites of staking a permanent claim. Certainly, it’s a worthwhile site.

And besides, after all is said and done, Z.com has in spades what may matter most as the market becomes more and more crowded: a catchy, easy-to-remember name.

Z.com

Production: 2919 W. Empire Ave. Burbank, CA 91504. Reviewed with a 56K modem and at broadband speed on June 5, 2000.

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