Warm hearts embraced the sexy-cool stars of our Cold Mountain feature (#742, Dec. 19). ''What a beautifully photographed cover!'' raves Giselle Bowie of Grapevine, Tex. ''Renee Zellweger looks especially wonderful.'' Still, no amount of body heat could temper the fervor of impatient Lord of the Rings fans. ''I was stunned when I saw your cover,'' says Suzanne LaVenture of Lewisville, N.C. ''I've been waiting a year for what I assumed would be an awesome issue heralding The Return of the King.'' All she had to do was sit tight one more week -- everyone now knows that we saved those stalwart Ring bearers for our Best of 2003 issue. Meanwhile, devotees of American Idol's latest winner gave a cold shoulder to critic David Browne. ''I am outraged at the review of Ruben Studdard's new Soulful CD,'' says Pauline Borden of Fort St. John, British Columbia. ''Ruben has a powerful voice and excellent rangethey don't call him the Velvet Teddy Bear for nothing.'' Everybody cuddle up!
EW is always full of stunning photography and wonderful graphics, but I must say that the Cold Mountain cover takes the cake! And Nicole Kidman steals the show. TOM CALDWELL email@example.com Picture Butte, Alberta
I take exception to Dan Snierson's statement that NBC ''mourned'' the loss of Boomtown (''Legends of the Fall''). ''Ushered out'' might be a better term. It is hard to believe NBC expected the ratings to go up when they moved it to Friday night. At the end of last season, it had just scratched the surface to begin winning its Sunday time slot. It would probably still be doing that right now, if only NBC had shown one ounce of hope in a simply unforgettable show. JAMES SHIVELY firstname.lastname@example.org Saltsburg, Pa.
In ''Global Karaoke War!'' (News & Notes), you didn't mention World Idol competitor Ryan Malcolm, the 24-year-old from Canada -- your neighbor, eh? SARAH MERCER email@example.com Halifax, Nova Scotia
Regarding the totally insensitive conduct of former Warner Bros. consultant Cheryl Rave's casting of atmosphere actors for the premiere of The Last Samurai (News & Notes): So, you're telling me that not all Asian-American women are exotic and mysterious sex kittens? Next thing you're gonna tell me is that not all African-American women are ''freaky'' and not all Latin American women have gi-normous rear ends. And wait, blondes aren't actually stupid? Well, at least Santa Claus is still real. Gimme a break. DAVID WONPU firstname.lastname@example.org Las Vegas
I sighed with relief after reading Lisa Schwarzbaum's review of Mona Lisa Smile (Movies), a film that fails miserably to portray women with any depth or strength. Instead, we get another glossed-over chick flick with another predictable performance by Julia Roberts, who can't seem to find a director to encourage her to drop the annoying mannerisms she uses in every film. Whether it be the whooping laugh, the little high-pitched scream, or endless flashes of those formidable teeth, she never ceases to grate on the nerves. SHEILA HOUSE email@example.com Harwich, Mass.