Picks and Pans Main: Bytes

updated 02/02/1998 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/02/1998 01:00AM

CHAIRMAN OF THE WEB

Times have been tough lately for Frank Sinatra fans, with a barrage of media reports slinging dirt about the 83-year-old superstar's youthful flings and speculating about his ill health. But the faithful have one source for the other side of the story: Sinatra: A Family Album (www.sinatrafamily.com), the pugnacious, homespun home page of the Sinatra clan.

The site's unfiltered take on all things Sinatra comes courtesy of Frank's oldest child, Nancy Sinatra Lambert (of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin' " fame). Updating it every other day via laptop, Nancy details everything from family get-togethers—"Our New Year's Eve was very quiet. We visited Dad early in our pajamas and we retired to our various homes and were in bed by midnight"—to Frank Jr.'s tour schedule. She also passes along Frank's curse on those spreading rumors of a family feud: "Whoever tries to break up my family will break into a million pieces." Scores of snapshots, recent and vintage, round out the eclectic offerings.

"We created the site for two reasons," says Nancy, 57, who has recently expanded the site with help from its new partner, Entertainment Asylum's Club Sinatra (www.asylum.com/sinatra). "Dad wanted to stay in touch with his fans, and he wanted a forum." In editorials, Nancy slams those who sully the Sinatra name. "We're so tired of the stuff that's printed about our family," she says. She reads fans' e-mail to her father daily and shares his reactions in her responses. "We laugh about some," she says, "and get teary-eyed about others because they reminisce about people who are gone. But he loves it."

SINKING SENSATION

One downside to the box office juggernaut that is the film Titanic: Chances of a sequel are pretty slim. But Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, a CD-ROM set on the ill-fated liner, is still boarding. Titanic mania has boosted interest in the year-old game, which has sold nearly 200,000 copies and won several critics' awards.

The CD-ROM's re-creation of the Titanic is as meticulous as the film's. Users play a shipboard spy who must retrieve a purloined book by solving puzzles, debriefing passengers and roaming the decks. "It really was a gargantuan ship," says Bill Appleton, president of game-maker CyberFlix Inc. "You get a visceral feel for it." The $50 game's production cost about $2 million—lavish, as CD-ROMs go. "We wanted to spend $200 million," jokes Appleton. "We just didn't have that much money."

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