The show won't go on for

Spielberg closes the curtain on his star-backed entertainment Web site before even opening for business

The much vaunted Internet entertainment site will not go live as the backers behind it announce that most of the site's staff are to be laid off by the end of the week.

A buyer could not be found for site headed up by Stephen Spielberg and Hollywood buddy Ron Howard. should have launched in Spring 2000.

Howard's Imagine Entertainment and Spielberg's Dreamworks joined forces in October 1999 to produce but were hampered by the downturn in Internet fortunes. Executives had hoped that would be sold to independent film portal IFILM. intended to offer a mix of live action and animation, video on demand and live Web events. The content would have been free to Web users, allowing viewers to interact with features and games as well as other users. Dreamworks admits it hasn't decided how to distribute the content already produced.

Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin had agreed to create programmes for the site. Nothing more than a handful of press releases have ever appeared on the site.

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