Shiver our timbers! Movie fans eagerly jumped on board for our Fall Movie Preview, featuring the star of the upcoming Master and Commander (#724/725, Aug. 22/29). ''I was in the middle of some severe Russell Crowe withdrawal,'' attests Nikki Milburn of Shepherdsville, Ky., ''when...wham! There he was! Great article, great subject.'' Though the actor's disposition made some big-screen sailors a little queasy. ''Mr. Crowe is a fine actor,'' says Lou Ann Farley of Old Hickory, Tenn., ''but he has made his attitude such a point of contention that it is sometimes difficult to fully enjoy his performances.'' That's not a complaint Amazing Race trackers had for our unflagging support of the globe-trotting series. ''Race offers viewers a reality show that has no equal,'' cheers Colleen Swift of Holland, Pa. ''Teams must solve problems in a range of situations and countries, while overcoming their own shortcomings, from physical to emotional to intellectual.'' Amazing Race, how sweet it is!
I would like to lick your toes for putting Russell Crowe on your cover and running Benjamin Svetkey's excellent interview with him. I think Crowe is the best actor of his generation. He completely fleshes out every character he portrays and without fail delivers sensitive and enduring performances. I know he will rock Master and Commander. CECILIA PELKE Cecpel@aol.com Pompano Beach, Fla.
Thank you for your cover story on Russell Crowe. I know sometimes Russell appears to have a bad attitude, but who cares? His superb acting is only second to his love for his craft. And he's so handsome! I'll be standing in line on Nov. 14. BETTINA LASNER Moriches, N.Y.
''I don't want to be one of your f -- -ing movie stars.'' Well, Russell, you are a ''movie star'' and had you genuinely wished to remain an anonymous actor, with your privacy intact, you could have taken that route and declined roles that were likely to place you in the limelight. If Crowe is going to enjoy the ridiculously extreme benefits of being a movie star, then he would do well to cease his complaints. He is free, at any time, to return to relative obscurity. JANICE HALPENNY email@example.com New Rochelle, N.Y.
I was so excited to receive my new issue and see David Morse on the cover. I've always felt since St. Elsewhere that he was an excellent and underrated actor. Then I looked at the print and found out it was boring old Russell Crowe. STEVEN ATTANASIE JR. Sattanas@aol.com Waldwick, N.J.
Please kill ''The Killer Moment'' from further preview issues. I may be in the minority, but I'd really rather discover the killer moment of a movie while actually watching the movie. BRIAN WINKELER firstname.lastname@example.org Oklahoma City
I say yee-haw in favor of Westerns (News & Notes). The movie industry has become glutted with making stuff where the true stars are the special effects. Give audiences a Western story and that's exactly what they get: a story. The characters are real instead of robotic and plastic. Open Range was amazingly refreshing and so well done. I hope Kevin Costner continues to make 'em, and I'll make sure I get to see 'em, partner. P. L. SMITH Corona, Calif.