Al Pacino, Dee Barnes, and Prince made headlines this week

Murderer Gary Gilmore, executed by a Utah firing squad (as he had requested) in 1977, inspired Norman Mailer’s 1979 masterpiece, The Executioner’s Song, and a 1982 TV movie starring Tommy Lee Jones. Now director Alan J. Pakula (Presumed Innocent) has optioned the upcoming book Shot in the Heart, which earned Gary’s youngest brother, Mikal Gilmore, an advance of nearly $700,000 from Doubleday last summer. Gilmore claims to have uncovered the ”secret lives” of his late father and ”about six half-siblings. I’ve come to understand more about the life Gary inherited,” he says, ”the roots and context of his rage.”

Al Pacino and producer Martin Bregman, who did Serpico (1973) and Scarface (1983), hope to make crime pay again — they’re adapting two books by novelist and New York State Supreme Court justice Edwin Torres (Q&A) for Universal. In Carlito’s Way, Pacino will play a small-time barrio thug who gets mixed up with a straight-arrow defense attorney. ”It’s about a bad guy trying to go good and a good guy tempted by bad,” says Torres.

In Kadeem Hardison’s directing debut on the April 23 A Different World, Gina (Ajai Sanders) falls for a young rapper and gets a fist in the kisser. The segment was inspired by ex-Fox rap show host Dee Barnes, who accused N.W.A rapper Dr. Dre of flinging her against a wall during a dispute about her report on his band. (Dre pleaded no contest and received a $2,513 fine, 240 hours of community service, and 24 months’ probation.) ”I wanted to show that it doesn’t have to be that way,” Hardison says.

The escapades of those wacky Alaskans on CBS’ Northern Exposure will be featured in an authorized epistolary novel, Letters From Cicely, out in April from Pocket Books by satirist Ellis Weiner (coauthor of Mayflower Manners with Sydney Biddle Barrows). In it, Maggie (Janine Turner) and Joel (Rob Morrow) get enmeshed in a love triangle when a neurologist comes to investigate Cicely’s insomnia epidemic. ”Nobody can sleep. They do get peculiar,” Weiner says.

With Malcolm X in the can, Spike Lee has gone right to work on Prince’s new video, ”Money Don’t Matter 2Night,” which shows scenes of poverty worldwide. Prince is donating all proceeds to the United Negro College Fund, and though he doesn’t appear in the video, he’s been busy: His Purpleness just finished the 19-minute ”Thunder Ballet,” a version of his Diamonds and Pearls LP cut, ”Thunder,” to premiere next January at the Joffrey Ballet.

Written by: Pat H. Broeske, Alan Mirabella, Sharon Isaak, Jane Frances, Harold Goldberg