IT Web Cartoonists
MATT + MIKE CHAPMAN
AGES 26, 29
WHY THEM? Millions of loyal fans -- including Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, who planted a shout-out in the show's series finale -- log on to homestarrunner.com each week to catch the adventures of armless, Flash-animated doofus Homestar Runner and his hilarious masked adversary, Strong Bad (below), who speaks in an accent that sounds like it was stolen from Eli Wallach, damaged, and returned. The site, created, animated, and voiced by the brothers, attracts 250,000 unique users every Monday, when Strong Bad checks his e-mail and answers -- sometimes snidely, sometimes absurdly -- his fans' most bizarre and moronic queries.
STRONG BAD'S FAVORITE E-MAIL? ''Any one where I get to kick The Cheat,'' says Bad (voiced by Matt), speaking of his blobby yellow partner in crime. ''I swear, the body releases some kinda those 'dorphins every time I kick the crap outta that little guy. It's like a burst of real fruit flavor.''
IS THIS, LIKE, A GREAT GIG OR WHAT? ''We don't ever want other jobs ever again,'' says animator Mike.
NEXT Toys and DVDs but no movie deals. Says Matt: ''It's so much more punk rock to do it yourself.''
WHY IT? This invite-only message board, started by Broadway star Craig Bierko (above), serves as a sort of Algonquin Round Table -- albeit with less drinking and a lot more swearing -- for its 41 participants, including director Jon Turteltaub (Cool Runnings, Phenomenon), Marc Shaiman (composer of Hairspray), Martha Plimpton, Robert Sean Leonard, and Beverly D'Angelo.
IN THE BEGINNING Bierko first logged on to the online community service Tightcircle when he was starring in The Music Man on Broadway and couldn't talk during the day. He soon became one of the most prolific writers in the community known as ''The Stump,'' a hangout for those in the entertainment business. But he grew tired of the group's gossip and backbiting, and decided to create his own room.
A BIT OF SUNSHINE A typical Bierko posting, on CBS' Hitler miniseries: ''The thing I didn't realize about Hitler's ascension to power was that sometimes when he spoke at those Socialist beer-hall meetings there was a bright blue band under the lectern that read: 'Tuesday: an all-new JAG!'''
IT Music Man
WHY HIM? As head of EA Trax -- a new soundtrack division of the popular videogame publisher Electronic Arts -- Schnur has brought trendy tunes to games like The Lord of the Rings, NBA Live 2003, Harry Potter, and Madden NFL 2003, harnessing the games' potential for marketing rock bands. Impact Fans in St. Louis had such a strong association between OK Go's ''Get Over It'' and Madden NFL 2003 that when the band performed the song, the crowd screamed, ''Touchdown!''
JACKO PLAYS VIDEOGAMES? ''I was invited to spend the day at Michael Jackson's house because he was such a huge fan and wanted to know who did the music in NBA Live 2003 and Def Jam Vendetta.''
YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET Record companies now angle to get new bands' songs featured in Schnur-scored games. ''We are as high up on the list [of marketing priorities] as radio and MTV,'' he says. ''There's a reach that videogames have [now] that they never had before that puts us on par to do what MTV did 20 years ago.''
NEXT Madden NFL 2004 (out this fall) will feature more than 20 songs, including material from blink-182, Alien Ant Farm, and the Roots.