June 16, 1997 12:00 PM

FASHION FORWARD

Sean Rones remembers his modeling days less than fondly. “I would be at a cattle-call audition with 75 other people, just waiting for up to 45 minutes for a person to take one look at my [portfolio] and say, ‘Next,’ ” recalls Rones, 32, whose gigs included the International Male apparel catalog. “I thought, ‘There has to be a better way’ ” Last year, after five years in the business, he decided to try and make life easier for models. Rones, along with business partner John Carrieri, developed Talentscape, a Web site to give clothiers and other advertisers one-stop browsing for models, photographers, illustrators, even locations and props. “If a client is looking for a 5’10” blonde, blue-eyed female, they can go on our Web site and narrow down the selection,” Rones explains. “They’d still need to call people in, but they’re only seeing 5 to 10 people who have a better shot at getting the job.” Elite, a top modeling agency, has signed up for the site (www.talentscape.com), which for an annual fee showcases more than 1,000 models and 500 photographers. Nordstroms, Macy’s and the Leo Burnett ad agency all plan to use the site. “If there are good images on the Web that I can say yea or nay to,” says Macy’s Terry Hinckley, who hires models for clothing ads, “that’s going to speed up the process.” And maybe help models escape the herd mentality.

PAPER TRAIL

Journalists come across some pretty interesting info. Buddies William Bastone, who writes about the Mafia for New York’s Village Voice, and Daniel Green, a freelancer, are scanning in some of their dishiest scraps for their new Web site, the Smoking Gun (www.thesmokinggun.com). “I chase paper during the week—that’s my job,” says Bastone. “A very small portion is used in stories.” On the site, launched in April, court documents reveal how much Howard Stern’s radio show rakes in—$600,000 in Miami, for instance. A vintage FBI report tries to smear Jackie Robinson as a communist. Another FBI gem, added the day of Ellen’s coming-out episode, is a 1943 memo on squelching gossip about J. Edgar Hoover’s sexuality. Promised soon: a feature titled Death Threat Thursdays. Says Green: “The best stuff is yet to come.”

SHOOTING STARS

Gary Bernstein’s Secrets of Professional Photography, a CD-ROM from a veteran celebrity photographer, spices up the how-to with a cavalcade of famous faces. Click! It’s Sophia Loren. Click! It’s Johnny Carson, one of Bernstein’s all-time faves. (“I had to take laugh breaks while I was shooting,” he recalls.) Click! It’s Elizabeth Taylor, whom Bernstein, 48, posed for some of her best-known portraits. Accompanying each photo is the lowdown on how Bernstein created it: camera settings, film speed, lighting setup. A tiny video image of Bernstein dispenses tips on everything from male versus female poses to how to soothe subjects. “Even though their face is their fortune,” he says of stars, “they are every bit as insecure in front of a still camera as John Doe.” Bernstein keeps his advice applicable to point-and-shoot shutterbugs, but the lack of dates for the photos, as well as an index of celebs, may leave some stargazers frowning.

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