All work and no play (compared with the old days) hasn't dulled Jack or the enthusiasm for About Schmidt's smokin' elder statesman (#689, Jan. 3). ''I was pleased as punch when my most recent issue arrived and it had Jack on it,'' says Beth Ann Smith of Erie, Pa. ''Thanks and kudos. It's about time he got a cover!'' And the respect didn't stop there as many readers paid their final ones to the year's lost talents and wrote in to honor those left out of our tribute. ''I enjoyed your yearly memoriam,'' applauds Columbus, Ohio's Gary L. West. ''I just wanted to add a few more: movie producer Julia Phillips, the first woman to win a Best Picture Oscar; comedian Avery Schreiber of Burns and Schreiber, who taught us all the joy of crunching nacho chips; and lest we forget...Linda Lovelace, who went from porn film star to porn film critic.'' We shall never forget -- any of them.
Jack of All Trades
In an industry whose lifeblood is artifice, Benjamin Svetkey has accomplished the seemingly impossible: a truly candid interview with a major star. His Q&A with Jack Nicholson was a triumph of the interviewing genre. Thanks for such a revealing yet respectful interview with someone we all thought we already knew. EMILY HARRISON WEIR Northampton, Mass.
I could listen to Jack all day about his adventures and sage advice about Hollywood. But if it weren't for Roger Corman, who gave him his start, I doubt we'd ever have gotten to know the man we admire so much. WHITNEY SCOTT BAIN Uncapie@aol.com Santa Monica
Nicholson claims in your candid interview to have toned down his trademark mannerisms to play the low-key Warren Schmidt. However, at the packed show I attended, the audience howled each time Nicholson resorted to an arched eyebrow, glassy stare, or bemused sneer to underscore the actuary's plight. BRUCE LYNN email@example.com Teleford, Pa.
I would like to point out a sadly forgotten artist who was missing from your issue (''In Memoriam 2002''). Marc Moreland died March 13, 2002. He was a pioneer in the West Coast new-wave music movement, being a founder and guitarist for the seminal L.A. band Wall of Voodoo. It's easy to overlook his contribution, since he's long since been filed in the ''one-hit wonder'' category, but most of us who grew up on '80s music would never discount his influence on that unique sound. DARRELL MCGRATH Phoenix
Since she wasn't well known in the United States, I'm disappointed but not surprised that you failed to mention the great Mexican diva Maria Felix in your annual tribute. But how could you leave out Katy Jurado, the Mexican actress who gave such an unforgettable performance in High Noon? SOLL SUSSMAN firstname.lastname@example.org Austin
No More Liza
I would gladly pay the $23 million Liza is suing Viacom for (if I had it), just to make sure her ''reality show'' never reaches the airwaves (Monitor). What were they thinking!? RANDY WOODS email@example.com Wilmington, N.C.