FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) is trolling online for new talent. The producer and director, who has won five Oscars, wants to turn his just-launched Web site (workshop.lather.com) into the Net's first writers' colony, a virtual laboratory for new plots and ideas. The plan: Would-be Capotes get their works read and Coppola's year-old print magazine, Zoetrope All-Story, gets an early shot at discovering new talent.
To submit to Coppola's new "on-the-air magazine," writers must first register for a password and then agree to read five stories and rate them for overall quality, originality, character development, writing, and plot. Coppola believes that "great writing talent must be out there, lurking in anonymity." Those who post here, he says, will be read, encouraged, and "put together with others of a like sort." And Coppola will do some of the cheerleading: He just hosted his first live chat with members. Submissions are soaring, with more than 70 new stories posted so far. Most are written "from the heart," says Coppola. But quality varies as widely as plot. Among new postings: "Fury," describing an abused woman's revenge, and "The Grass Is Greener If You Eat It," a story about life--as told by a cow.