The worst websites
Steven Spielberg recreated D-Day, and Ron Howard turned Jim Carrey into the Grinch. But Spielberg and Howard together, along with $50 million and producers Brian Grazer and Jeffrey Katzenberg, couldn’t launch a website? Hard to believe, but their celebrity-studded destination fizzed out before the cork left the bottle. And they weren’t alone. As if cued by Spielberg, the virtual shores of digital Hollywood were transformed into bloody Omaha Beach. The Digital Entertainment Network and Pseudo.com were among the casualties, and the lucky survivors scrambled for a new strategy to stay in business. Suddenly, the most entertaining website around was a dotcom dead pool with a profane name, F—edCompany.com. Make this year’s motto: ”In with the old economy, out with the new.”
For many viewers, the four live webcams showing the contestants of CBS’ also-ran reality show were addictive. And this 24/7 Peeping Tomfoolery would have earned a place on the ”Best” list if its producers had capitalized on the site’s voyeuristic potential. Instead, the feeds droned on endlessly, and even the bright moments — like when Brittany cuddled with… everyone — managed to be less interesting than the JenniCam. The site’s traffic hit 570,000 visitors the night the first two roomies were nominated for expulsion, and then declined along with the show’s ratings until the grand finale.
3. PETS.COM SOCK PUPPET
Good dog, bad business. Pets.com reportedly spent $27 million advertising its mascot in 1999, and the gambit paid off — just not in the way it was expecting. The Sock Puppet became popular enough to merit a retail toy, which became one of the online store’s top-selling items. But the pup didn’t play well with one other famous pooch: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a canine from Late Night With Conan O’Brien, who accused the Sock of being a copycat. We may never know the outcome of that dogfight, because Pets.com was put down for good Nov. 7. The dotcom’s original Sock Puppet, however, lives on: It was auctioned last February for $20,100.
4. PLAYSTATION 2
The TV commercial for PlayStation 2 — a futuristic plug for the PS9 — tells the whole story. The console and the ads both have stunning graphics, and both promise more than they deliver. Aside from the production shortage that turned the home-entertainment obelisk into the most sought-after toy of the year, PS2’s best games feel like teasers for the souped-up system’s potential — which it’s likely to live up to sometime next year.
5. ATMOIC POP
Al Teller, former head of CBS Records and MCA Music Entertainment Group, was among the first record execs to ”get” the Web. He established a Web-based music label and signed on forward-thinking artists Public Enemy and Ice-T, luring them with progressive contracts entitling them to half the revenue from CD sales instead of the usual 10 percent. But gaining a following and raising money in the ultra-competitive online-music space were tougher than patting down a gangsta rapper. The company ran out of money in September.