There's no time like the holiday season to kill off your favorite star.

Just ask Internet pranksters, who have gone on a murderous rampage this week (figuratively speaking, natch) by posting fake news stories claiming rapper Eminem was killed in a car crash and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich was shot by a militant Napster enthusiast.

Is this what Web programmers do on their Christmas break?

The stories apparently surfaced over the weekend on a fake replica of the news site. But the site looked real enough to spark a wave of concern from fans, and E! Online has fielded dozens of emails from readers wondering if Eminem really did kick the bucket.

In Eminem's case, the faux news item claimed he was killed while driving a rental car (a Saturn coupe) to a late-night party when he lost control.

(This, of course, contradicts earlier reports that Eminem and Ulrich died in the same car crash, which, coincidentally, also turned up the remains of Scott Baio, Luther Vandross, Paul McCartney and Mikey, the kid from those Life cereal commercials. But we heard that one from the crazy guy in the corner cubicle. So go figure.)

Eminem's camp sought to squash the rumor-mongering Tuesday, posting a statement on his Website declaring that the trash-talking rap hero is doing just fine.

"Despite sick-minded ne'er-do-well attempts to create a state of panic in this grand country by virtue of a well-crafted fake news story prank, our beloved Slim Shady is alive and well," the statement reads. "Marshall is alive and at home with his family for the holidays in Detroit. And he wishes all of you shady holidays and a dirty new year."

For Metallica's Ulrich, the crime wasn't fatal, but it was more topical. The fake story claimed the drummer, a well-known Napster foe, was shot Lee Harvey Oswald-style while leaving a hotel in Austin, Texas. The story claims a "well-dressed man approached Ulrich in broad daylight, shouting, 'You killed Napster.' "

In real life, however, Ulrich is doing just peachy. "It's very untrue," confirms an Elektra Records rep.

There. That settles it.

But, hear about ABBA?

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