American Idol minds turned out to be our playground; our look at the new funky bunch (#702, March 28) got good vibrations. But the Dixie Chicks' anti-Bush chirp and other political issues dominated the mail. ''I don't agree with what Natalie Maines said, but I do believe in freedom of speech,'' says Anita Grant of Levelland, Tex. There were lots of laughs over our Congress-inspired ''French'' rant, which suggested de-Francophiling everything from Paris Hilton to The French Connection. ''Merci beaucoup,'' cheers Dearborn, Mich.'s Michael Callas. ''We are in agreement over the outrageousness of certain members of Congress.'' And in more protest news, fans of the band SHAT wrote in remarkably similar letters, declaring a boycott until we apologized for saying the band's name is ''awful.'' There you go, guys. Another mention of your fave group. Now leave us alone.
Hey, guys, thanks for the March 28 issue of American Idol Weekly. I don't know what I would have done without it. CRAIG ERICSON Ambler, Pa.
Thank you for the wonderful cover and article on American Idol! I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a huge fan of the show, and I nearly had a heart attack when I saw this issue. I've been a big supporter of Clay ever since his first audition, and I hope that he takes it all the way! JENNIFER RIGSBY firstname.lastname@example.org Richmond, Va.
Jessica Shaw's behind-the scenes article on American Idol was absolutely hilarious. It had me laughing out loud at work (and for several minutes afterward). Thank you, Ms. Shaw, for your affectionate, personal, and gut-busting piece. JAMES MASOTTO email@example.com Van Nuys, Calif.
I feel guilty for liking American Idol. I suspect the voting is fixed and the only remaining question is ''What undeserving female will be second?'' I can't imagine the producers dreaming of a finale with Clay clutching Ruben as the winner is announced. MARY ARCHER Haddonfield, N.J.
Kudos for Chris Nashawaty's enlightening article on one of Hollywood's most underrated actors, Crispin Glover (''Star Spelled Backward''). Director Glen Morgan's casting him in Willard was brilliant, and his performance was career-igniting. MICHAEL HERMAN firstname.lastname@example.org La Palma, Calif.
Tim Carvell's article on the career of JFK impersonator Vaughn Meader (''The Second Most Famous Man in America'') was a fascinating portrayal of an individual attaining overnight success and then losing it. Perhaps the biggest tragedy, however, is Mr. Meader's inability to shake the label that made him a household name. His self-destructive tendencies (alcohol and drugs) and casual indifference to the various projects that might have placed him back in the spotlight he so desperately craves might, sadly, be remembered more than any impersonation. DONALD THORESEN Donesen@aol.com Brooklyn
I do not agree with the Dixie Chicks fans who trashed their CDs after hearing that Natalie Maines was embarrassed by Bush (News & Notes). They bought the CDs to hear the music, didn't they? Not because they had the same ideas about the President, or they were in the same political party. Music and politics are two different things, and one shouldn't affect the other. CAROLINE LITTLEWOOD Dealwood1@aol.com Mystic, Conn.