SKIN FLICKS

Movie stars may be often beautiful, but they are seldom flawless. Take a look at Richard Gere. Dr. Vail Reese did, and he saw a Becker's nevus, a benign birthmark, on Gere's back. A photo of Gere's skin condition is just one of many on display on the Web site Dermatology in the Cinema (http://itsa.ucsf.edu/-~vcr/Dermcin.html). "I want the site to reassure people," says Reese, 32, a San Francisco dermatologist and film buff. "All these photos show Gere shirtless and with beautiful women. Obviously it's not a problem."

Launched last March, the site contains photos with informative captions of everything from W.C. Fields's bulbous nose (a result of untreated adult acne) to Bo Derek's overly tight braids in 10. The Now Playing section details skin conditions (real and makeup-created) of actors in current films, such as Ralph Fiennes's burn-scarred face in The English Patient and Kim Novak's on-again, off-again beauty mark in Vertigo. So far, Reese says, no celebrities have responded to his longdistance diagnoses, but he receives plenty of feedback from the site's fans suggesting other examples. The site also hosts bulletin-board discussions on topics including Michael Jackson's reported vitiligo (pigment loss). "I started that so people don't think they'll suddenly fade all over if they get it," explains Reese. "Or do the moonwalk."

BOND AND BEYOND

It won't shake you a martini, but The Ultimate James Bond: An Interactive Dossier will serve up nearly every drop of trivia—from missions to mannerisms—a Bond buff might thirst for. Take the two-disk CD-ROM's Goldfinger file, which notes that German actor Gert Frobe's dialogue was dubbed in English. Look at Dr. No's file and discover that the Vatican disapproved of the film's "ethical content."

Dossier's details, plus its photos of gadgets and foreign movie posters, are the work of Lee Pfeiffer, 40, who began collecting Bond memorabilia after seeing From Russia with Love at age 8. In 1992 he wrote The Incredible World of 007 and, last May, he quit his 20-year career in finance to devote his time to Bond projects. "I promised my wife that with these collectibles accumulating, I'd make lots of money," he says. If his $40 Interactive Dossier takes off, consider it a mission accomplished.

>Tom Clancy

PATRIOT GAMES

An international crisis, Tom Clancy-style, is brewing. Chinese Communists have seized the oil-rich Spratly Islands. U.S. nuclear attack submarines, led by the U.S.S. Cheyenne, are dispatched. But in Tom Clancy SSN—a CD-ROM the techno-thriller author hopes will pave the way for his new multimedia company to produce even more Clancy games—it's not Harrison Ford or Alec Baldwin in charge of protecting the free world. It's you. And taking a nuclear sub into combat turns out to be a little trickier than it looks in the movies.

High tech isn't anything new to you. Why start now?

My readers expect a high degree of fidelity to the real world. One of the advantages of CD-ROMs is that you can put so much data on them that the games now have a degree of reality that is quite respectable, as opposed to Space Invaders and the stuff that was around 15 years ago.

How was writing the plot for a game different than that of a book?

When you write a book, you're presenting your story in an unchangeable form. In this case, the reader-player-customer has to learn how to tell the story himself.

So they get to pick the ending?

If the player plays correctly, it will come out my way. If you come out alive, you probably did it right.

  • Contributors:
  • Laura Smith Kay,
  • Cindy Dampier.