It's not odd to see people giving each other advice or posting family photos on the Web. It's not even unusual to see personal journal entries online.
But it might take you aback when you realize the life you're taking an intimate look into is a celebrity's. With everyone and their housecat boasting personal Web pages nowadays, it's only natural that the stars should have their own, sometimes very personal — and sometimes downright embarrassing — sites.
Consider Melanie Griffith, who personally responds to tabloid rumors and expounds on the idea of getting in touch with your inner "Goddess" on www.melaniegriffith.com. To emphasize that last aspect of her site, Griffith appears on every page in a white vestal virgin outfit among wildflowers and fantasy-movie ruins. A reader can't be blamed for initially thinking he's been misdirected to the label of a bottle of herbal shampoo.
But her fans unabashedly gush over their heroine, calling her a latter-day Marilyn Monroe, cooing over her husband, Antonio Banderas, and discussing the merits of her 1987 flick Cherry 2000.
And despite the site's ethereal appearance, it's not all fluff. Griffith openly details her struggle with substance abuse and provides links to Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous.
It's a different sight when you take a gander at www.jeffbridges.com, which is notable not only because of its design — the entire site is written in Bridges' sprawling script — but because it includes his music and photos he's taken from movie sets and family dinners with his brother Beau and late father Lloyd.
"The Web site is an extension of my creative expression," Bridges said from New York. "The question you always ask yourself is how much are you willing to share? Do you want to put this out for the world to see or not?"
While the site opens the star to jibes over his nearly illegible handwriting and intricate drawings, he didn't see it as much different from the potential abashment anyone opens himself up to in anything he does.
"We are all doing that every day, in one way or another," he said. "But I'm kind of having fun with it, and, whatever happens, I'm having fun."
But celebrities can cross the line. Mariah Carey posted bizarre rants a few days before being hospitalized for exhaustion on the cartoonish www.mariahcarey.com. Her behavior prompted gossip about her mental health and even drug use, creating a publicity nightmare for the singer whose album sales were lagging and movie premiere was postponed.
Carey's not the only celebrity to experience the downside of having a personal site. John Tesh, the former Entertainment Tonight host turned New Age musician, said he usually gets positive comments on, www.tesh.com, and www.teshmusic.com, but some visitors haven't been so kind to the star who's often been ridiculed for his music.
"They'll say, what are you people talking about, this music is horrible," he said from his Los Angeles home. "But that usually starts this dialogue and he'll get shouted down."
And though Tesh has had well-publicized problems with a cybersquatter, he said his Internet experience has been a good one overall.
George Takei — known as the U.S.S. Enterprise's Commander Sulu — would have to agree with that. His column on www.georgetakei.com ranges from descriptions of his travels to his work with the Japanese American National Museum and even his mother's Alzheimer's. And, yes, Star Trek. He says while not every fan posting is positive, he enjoys the interaction.
"I don't believe the so-called wall (between a celebrity and the public)," he said. "I'm an actor, and more than any other kind of calling, I need to be able to connect with people and the world that surrounds me."
Besides, that's the nature of the Net: It brings celebrities a step closer to their fans — and critics. But, he said dealing with some verbose visitors can be tough. "Some of the e-mails you get, good God, they scroll down for an hour. It can take me a month to get back to some of them.
"And writing a column takes some out of my life, too," he said. "If you're in front of a computer all day long, you don't have a life."