One has his years of splendour already gone, another is just becoming a star, and another might be star at any moment. There is one thing that connects them: they all have their websites, which could bring an attack of jealousy on Tom Cruise or Tom Hank. Since on the internet official popularity polls mean nothing. Here everyone can have his or her own idol.
A New Zealander Craig Parker plays elf, Haldir in “Lord of the Rings.” In “Fellowship of the Ring,” he shows up just in a few scenes. In “The Two Towers,” he has got a bigger part - with his troop of elves, he comes to help people in Helm's Deep and he dies heroically at the hands of an Orc. Not much, but it is enough for Parker-Haldir to get likeable among “Lord of the Rings” fans. He started to attend the Tolkien & “Lord of the Rings” conventions. These contacts with the audience did the job. They resulted in the setting up some websites. A German fan Claudia says: “Someone like Craig deserves to get at least a little bit of support and attention. He is kind, always smiling and friendly to each fan.”
Claudia met Parker in November 2002 at a German „LOTR” convention. Soon afterwards, she set up her own Craig Parker website. “We talked about Craig on the forum and somebody said: “Craig has so many sites in English but none in German. Let's make one.” - she mentions the origin of www.craigparker.de. Initially the work was divided between a few other Parker fans. “I was the only one who knew something about creating web pages. I explained that I would only help, because I didn't have too much free time”- says Claudia. Claudia got more and more involved as the web page flourished. Finally, she decided to make one on her own. “It was hard to coordinate the work of a few different webmasters, besides I like to have full control”- she explains her decisions. Today www.craigparker.de is one of the most thriving websites devoted to Parker. Fans appreciate it. Since April 2003, the site has had over 11 thousand entries. The frequency of entries during the week is different. It grows after every “LOTR” convention, where Parker appears.
Claudia estimates that between 2500 and 3000 people visit her web site every month.
The Actor and The Angler.
By contrast, Christopher Atkins is a star of two movies. He had his 15 minutes of fame at in the beginning of the 80's, thus the times when nobody heard about internet. A muscular blonde-haired person with a smile like from a dental commercial starred in “The Blue Lagoon” and a musical „The Pirate Movie.” He still appears in movies, unfortunately in which most of you have never heard of and never will. However, it does not mean that he does not have his web pages. One of them is www.geocites.com/piratemoviepage/chris.html. The page appeared at the end of the 90's. Its administrator is an American – Rene. In 1997, she set up a web page devoted to “The Pirate Movie.” When she was flooded with questions requests from people who asked her for any information about Atkins she decided to start the actor’s page. Oddly enough, Atkins’ friend came across this site and mentioned it to the actor in question. Atkins took to the page so much that he contacted Rene and gave her his blessing. Two years ago, this web site became official. You can buy there photos signed by Atkins or you can order for only 20$ an Atkins phone call who may wish you birthday. Rene also runs Atkins’ web store, which sells fishing equipment (www.rockyriveroutdoors.com).
Atkins’ web page is not as famous as Parkers’, but it has about 80 -100 entries a day. Two months ago when an American TV Station showed a TV program about children stars (Atkins was one of them); the number of entries grew to 1500!
You surely know Gerard Butler, though not necessarily by his surname. So far, he has had several roles to his credit. He was a prince of darkness in “Dracula 2000”, he was fighting dragons in “Reign of Fire”, and kissing Angelina Jolie in “Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life”, he was also singing in “Phantom of the Opera”.
Soon we will see him as a Spartan King in "300” film based on Frank Miller's comics and in a thriller “Butterfly on the Wheel” next to Pierce Brosnan. If he leads his career wisely and skilfully, he will become a prominent star. Apart from his attractive looks, him his strong Scottish accent might help. Since Sean Connery such an accent has been in demand – it appeals to women like a top quality aphrodisiac.
The website www.gerardbutler.net (GB.Net in short) was created in February 2001 on the initiative of an American - Tamara. It is not only the biggest among several ones devoted to Butler, but also the best, what all actor fans admit. During five years, GB.Net has had five million entries! It attracts with its abundant archives, where there are over 1500 articles about Butler and over 15 thousand photos of him. Plus the actor’s audio and video recordings.
There is a Polish Tart Forum (Polish speaking) within GB.Net. There are 53 registered members most of who enter the site and the forum every day. Some of them even three of four times a day. They get on well so no wonder that they exchange movies with Butler and information what and where you can read about their favourite actor. Nevertheless, they do not talk only about Butler. On the forum, they also make friends. “Ciasteczka” – as they call themselves (it's a Polish version of Tarts - an English name for Butler fans) – they correspond with fans from other countries, who they met thanks to GB.Net. Last Christmas they send hand made Christmas cards saying, “may we last in Gerrymania forever and be well on the forum, which we often call Gerryland.” What counted most was good fun and ingenuity. The biggest applause got a Christmas card which had a paper-tissue dripped with a Joe Malone ginger and nutmeg fragrance (Butler uses it too) attached to.
A New Member of The Family.
Usually such fan admiration is associated with teenagers. It is easier to accept and you can always put blame on teenage hormone storm. Meanwhile I am making an opinion poll among Polish Butler fans; an emerging group portrait of them does not seem to have much in common with it. Certainly, there is a 16-year-old high school girl and this year high-school graduate among them, but there are also a few college girls, a 30- year-old woman with a child, a 39-year-old English teacher, a few in early 40 state officers and a 57- year-old retired teacher.
When I ask them, how their passion is accepted by their family and friends, they usually answer “My husband puts up with my affection patiently and watches all the movies with me”; “Gerry has been accepted by my husband as a new member of the family”, ‘My husband keeps poker player face, my sons only roll up their eyes and politely burn the CD's with Gerry’s video clips”. Just one Butler fan writes in an e-mail:”I do not tell everyone that I am a Gerard’s fan, because our society is not tolerant. There are rules in society pointing what you can do and what you cannot do, what is appropriate and what is not at certain age. We aren't able, like the Americans enjoy our lives and do whatever we want.”
In all GB.Net has about 10 thousand fans of different age. The site has some statistics reports which say that Butler fans aged 13-17 make 13,56%, aged 18-25 – 23,77%, 26-23 – 17,19%, and above 50 make15,71%. The largest group are women between 35-50years old, which makes almost 30% of all fans. Except the Polish Forum, there are other ones like the Korean, the Japanese, and the Italian. In total, there are 14 different language options.
The Americans Tarts rather do not interfere with their activities. At least until the site rules are obeyed. “Occasionally in the form of a post they let us know that they pop in, but it isn't unfriendly”- says the Polish Forum moderator. And the guidelines are simple. The most important is to respect the idols’ privacy. On GB.Net, you will not find any paparazzi photos or rumours and gossip about Butler’s love life.
Fan of the Month.
The majority of web sites are sponsored by their admins. Rene set Atkins’ web page on her own server. She says that her only expense was the purchase of the domain. Claudia pays 50 € per year for using the server. GB.Net activities are supported by fan donations. All the financial surpluses are given away for charity by the moderators. GB.Net has raised over 100 thousand dollars for charity; they donated the money to tsunami helping foundations, children hospitals and cancer charities.
Anyway, the financial help is not the only activity. All fans share and exchange photos, scanned interviews, and private collections. “Without help of the fans, without permission for using their photos, running such a big web site would be impossible.” - says Claudia. GB.Net even chooses fan of the month, a reward title given to the most devoted to the site and promotion of Butler person.
Usually web pages devoted to one celebrity keep in touch and exchange information and photos. Claudia co-operates for example with the administrator of www.parker-blue.net. That web page is younger than German one. The updated site in its present design has been active since last year. It has a thousand of entries a week. Thanks to running that web site, Mel met Parker at one of fan conventions.
The Power of The Internet
How long does it take to create such a web site? You have to be in the swim of the celebrity all the time, inform all the time about all new things – you have to update the page (on a reliable page you can find when it was updated for the last time). The websites with out-of-date news lose their users quite fast. “There were moments when I spent an hour a day updating the site. Now it is an hour or two a week. I wish I had more time, but my college is very absorbing.” - says Claudia.- “Of course everything depends on what is going on in Craig’s career – sometimes there is no news for weeks and sometimes you have to update the site every day”.
Where do the site admins get their info from? Sometimes they get it directly from the actor. In this respect, Rene is comfortable. Tamara should not complain too. Her website is unofficial, but easily could go as official. Butler regularly pops in and he is permanently in touch with the admins. Surely, such a contact is beneficial for the site runners as the news is obtained at first hand thus often before other sites get it thus reliable. Nevertheless, there is one drawback – the celebrity can regularly check it!
Simultaneously it enhances the sense of loyalty to the actor. When Butler asked to remove his pictures with cigarette, the request was fulfilled immediately.
No wonder that Mel says: “I’d rather Craig didn't know what we're doing online”. Claudia looks for information on the internet. “I have my nose in everywhere – she laughs – Because all information about Craig can be in different places”. Parker knows about his website “I told him about it when we met at the convention. He blushed, when he heard about it. But I do not think he checks it. I've heard that he doesn't check his websites, because he's afraid of what he might read there”.
However, following Butler more and more actors appreciate the possibilities of unofficial sites and personal contacts with their admins. The power of the internet can be proved by the story of Leonardo DiCaprio. Beautiful Leonardo wanted to star in an adaptation of “American Psycho”. He had a Film Company who wanted him. However, a group of fans of the book did not like this idea. They had their own candidate: Christian Bale. Today after starring in “Batman”, Bale has been considered as one of the most commercially successful actors in Hollywood. However, at the end of the 90's almost nobody heard about him. Nevertheless, everybody heard about DiCaprio. The case seemed settled, but the book fans with Bale fans (gathered around the unofficial website) started to collect signatures under the internet petition supporting Bale in this role. Finally, the film company gave up. Bale got the role.
Butler fans showed their power as well. When a few months ago a British magazine “Hello” announced an internet contest for the most handsome actor, a full motivation among Gb.Net supporters emerged. Butler won overwhelmingly leaving behind Johnny Depp, Viggo Mortensen and even Orlando Bloom with the lead of votes!