So John Travolta, star of many a movie you can't seem to avoid on economy class in-flight programmes, has become a roving ambassador for Qantas. He's even had his noisy old Boeing 707, which he bought off the airline, repainted into its original Qantas airline livery.

Is this the same plane that was grounded for a few days at Christchurch airport when Travolta visited New Zealand here in 1999 and had to be repaired by Air New Zealand ground staff so he could leave the country?

Anyway, now that Qantas has Travolta and Richard Branson is the face of Virgin Blue, it makes you ponder who Air NZ should get as its celebrity front? Rusty Crowe? He could certainly make one sit up and listen attentively to those pre-flight safety announcements - "Look, mate, yeah you in 45J, in the case of an emergency you're not getting a bloody lifejacket because you're not listening, all right? Look, come here ... " (thump).

Anyway, back to Captain Travolta. At at the press conference proclaiming his appointment, his mock this-is-your-captain-speaking announcement said the in-flight flick would be Grease ... Ho ho, we went, usually that's the food.

We only hope the Koala takes it well.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: It has been another odd week for Mr Russell Crowe, formerly of this parish. First the two men accused of blackmailing him over a video of the star brawling outside a nightclub at Coffs Harbour, NSW, were acquitted. Now he's just been voted the "world's worst autograph signer" for having a go at fans who approach him. Crowe topped the list compiled by Autograph Collector Magazine, with Britney Spears coming second.

"While celebrities are fully entitled not to sign autographs," the magazine huffed, "Crowe has reached a new low. He not only refuses to sign but also berates collectors on a regular basis." Funnily enough, Crowe made the list of best signers last year.

DAMP, I AM: What's it with Sam Neill and rainy New Zealand locations? The last movie he made here was the muddy and sodden The Piano in 1993 and right now he's on the West Coast having just started filming the romantic thriller Perfect Strangers, by former West Coaster Gaylene Preston, set among the nikau palms and savage coastline of Punakaiki and the northern West Coast.

"It's always an adventure making a movie, and this probably more than most because it's unconventional in many ways - quite different from most things you see at the movies," he told local reporters. "I'm jumping into some pretty wild water at the moment and I'm not sure if I'm going to get to the other side."

Preston describes her screenplay as an unconventional love story that will make the audience "laugh, and then scream" (hopefully at the right times).

Neill again: "We also expect to be uncomfortable from time to time [because] it isn't Californian climate here. It's stopped raining, but I guess it'll start again in about half an hour."

INTERESTING VISITOR DEPT: English popstress Sophie Ellis Bextor, she of the distinctive cheekbones and acerbic hit Murder on the Dancefloor, will be popping into Auckland mid next month for much promo chatting.

ROCK CRITIC OF THE WEEK: The award goes to the Dublin Development Authority which is bulldozing the studio where U2 recorded All That You Can't Leave Behind.