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Entertainment news for May 13, 1994

Michelle Pfeiffer, Robin Wiliams, Johnny Rotten and others made news this week

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MUSICAL CARES: Scratch those recent reports that say Michelle Pfeiffer will portray Eva Peron in the long-awaited movie musical Evita. An assistant to director Oliver Stone insists, ”Pfeiffer’s name has come up, but the search continues.” Indeed, Stone is still conducting auditions. (The role has been coveted by everyone from Madonna to Meryl Streep.) But don’t cry for Pfeiffer just yet. The actress, who appeared in the 1982 musical Grease 2 and also sang torch songs in The Fabulous Baker Boys, remains interested in the part. ”She doesn’t really think of herself as a singer, but she likes to stretch,” says her spokeswoman. ”I don’t think there’s any doubt that she would love the challenge.” -Pat H. Broeske

TOONING IN: Robin Williams may have groused about his less-than-$100,000 fee to provide the voice of the Genie in Aladdin, but other celebs are lining up to lend their famous vocal cords to animated Disney characters. Just look who’ll be talking in the studio’s 1995 release The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Resurgent pop star Meat Loaf will likely be the titular bat-out-of-hell in the belfry, and Demi Moore his Esmeralda. So what about that Mickey Mouse salary? ”Everybody now knows these movies are something special, and that commerce isn’t what they’re about,” says Disney studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg. Scrooge McDuck would be proud. -Steve Daly

PISTOL WHIPPED: Now that Johnny Rotten is a man of letters-his book, Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, just came out in America-has the formerly snarling, spitting leader of the Sex Pistols become civilized? No way. At a recent book signing in New York City, the erstwhile punk (who goes by his real name, John Lydon) served up bile with a smile. When one fan tried to snap a photo, he snapped back: ”All those with cameras, please take lessons.” When another young acolyte stopped in his tracks and stared at Lydon in awe, the rocker sniffed, ”Take him home.” And as the long line of fans continued to pour into the store, the Pistol proclaimed: ”Destroy the rain forests! Make more of my book!” Ahh. It was 1977 all over again. -Jeff Gordinier

LIGHTNING SPEED: Attention, Keanu Reeves fans. The hunky actor has become one of Hollywood’s hottest properties, thanks to his upcoming action-dude performance in Speed, opening June 7. The Twentieth Century Fox film, described as ”Die Hard on a bus,” has such good word of mouth that the studio is already discussing a sequel and has signed Reeves to star in the period romance A Walk in the Clouds at the urging of director Alfonso Arau (Like Water for Chocolate). What brought about this career upswing? ”He’s bulked up,” says Fox’s president of production Tom Jacobson. ”He doesn’t look like a gawky teenager. He looks like a grown-up.” -Melina Gerosa

UNFARE: David Letterman may have won friends at the Hello Deli and other midtown Manhattan locales in his Late Show neighborhood, but one New York City cabbie found his brush with the host less than rewarding. Recently, the show’s producers asked taxi driver Alexander Quartner to appear in a segment in which Letterman takes a drive around Manhattan while quizzing Quartner on the performance of Bill Clinton and his favorite Vice President. Although Letterman’s crew promised the cabbie he’d be well compensated for his time (roughly half an hour), Quartner received only $20 for his efforts. ”I could have made more on the street,” says the disgruntled hack. ”He should have given me $100. He can afford it.” According to a Letterman spokeswoman, the small payment was ”a mistake.” But, she adds, Quartner has now been ”adequately compensated.” How adequately? She wouldn’t say.