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Netting 15 Megabytes of fame

  PETER HOWELL

The Toronto Star 2003-02-09

Note- you can read the whole article here. It won't stay there long.

Another example of this, in a much jollier context, is the Web site for Figwit (http://www.figwitlives.net), the name fans have given to an elf extra played by New Zealand musician Bret McKenzie in The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring.

The 26-year-old McKenzie appeared in Fellowship for precisely three seconds. He's glimpsed as one of the concerned elves at the Council of Elrond scene where hero hobbit Frodo gets his official ring-bearing mandate. Net buddies Iris Haddad, 23, and Sherry de Andres, 31, decided that three seconds was long enough for them to fall madly in love with Figwit, a name they made from the first initials of their exclamation, "Frodo is great ... WHO IS THAT?"

"He is, in a word, gorgeous," the site reads. "Or another, stunning ... hypnotic ... stupendous ... captivating ... take your pick. We go with all of the above and then some."

Perhaps determined to update (and speed up) Andy Warhol's dated dictum about 15 minutes of fame, the two Figwit freaks have parlayed their muse's three seconds into a Web site that takes a lot longer than that to peruse.

There is Figwit poetry, Figwit art, Figwit fan fiction, Figwit fights (could he knock out Aragorn and Legolas?) and, my personal favourite, Figwit karaoke. You can sing along to such soon-to-be pop classics as "Don't Cry For Me, Figwit Baby" (done to the tune "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina") and "Pout" (a play on the Tear For Fears hit "Shout").

McKenzie apparently hasn't let the adulation go to his head. He doesn't appear in either The Two Towers or The Return Of The King, the other two parts of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Legend has it that director Peter Jackson was unable to track McKenzie down for the sequels.

This digital deifying of bit players has been going on for years. I first noticed the phenomenon in 1997, when a blink-and-miss character from James Cameron's Titanic launched his own Web site.

And why not? It's far cheaper than hiring an agent or publicist, and it could result in a measure of fame even if, as in Lana Clarkson's sad case, you have to die a violent death before the world really pays attention.