The top entertainment news for the week of December 6, 1996

We know Shannen Doherty can yell, but can she sing? The world will find out when the temperamental ex-90210 star makes her musical debut playing a Lisa Loebesque rock singer in NBC’s Friends til the End (February). ”I was nervous up until we recorded, because I hadn’t heard her open her mouth,” says John Houlihan, the movie’s music supervisor, adding that he was pleasantly surprised when Doherty let loose with a voice he describes as in the ”Natalie Merchant ballpark.” NBC is pitching a video for one of the songs, ”Stop” (cowritten by former Bangle Susanna Hoffs), to MTV and may release it as a CD single if the listening public digs Doherty’s vocal stylings. But until MTV rules on the clip, says Houlihan, NBC isn’t going to push Doherty as the next Alanis Morissette: ”We just think we have exceptional music for a movie-of-the-week. If I thought we had a platinum record, I’d be shopping it.”
Kristen Baldwin

Most CEOs play golf in their spare time. But the quixotic Edgar Bronfman Jr., chief honcho at the Seagram Co. — which now owns MCA/Universal — writes music. Under the pseudonym Sam Roman, Bronfman cowrote ”Whenever There Is Love,” which just happens to be the theme song to Universal’s Daylight. Although this isn’t Bronfman’s first foray into songwriting (the exec also wrote songs for Bruce Roberts’ first solo album), it’s by far his splashiest. The song, a duet performed by cowriter Roberts and Donna Summer, also happens to be the first single from the film’s soundtrack. Favoritism? Not at all, claims a Universal spokesperson, who says the ballad was chosen for the soundtrack by Daylight director Rob Cohen with no knowledge of the boss’ involvement. Wasn’t there anything odd about working with the big cheese? Only one thing, says Roberts. Unlike most songwriters, he has ”a day job.”
Heidi Siegmund Cuda

It’s material that’s bewildered everyone from Martin Scorsese to Ridley Scott, but Stephen Nemeth, head of production at Rhino Films, says the retread record company’s fledgling movie offshoot will bring Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to the screen next year. The film version of Hunter S. Thompson’s drug-addled journey from L.A. to Vegas will start production in January with Alex Cox at the helm. All that’s needed now is the right lead actor. A who’s who of Hollywood hotshots are supposedly angling for the part, but according to reports Johnny Depp — who popped up at a party for Thompson to celebrate the novel’s rerelease and silver anniversary — is negotiating to play the god of gonzo. A publicist for the actor says he is considering ”several projects right now, but none have been decided on.”
Anna Holmes

After she appeared on PrimeTime Live, Letterman, Larry King Live, and Oprah, you might think Sarah Ferguson would show up at the opening of an envelope if she thought it would move copies of her book My Story. But no. Fergie actually turned down an invitation to the Nov. 18 101 Dalmatians premiere, a black- and white-tie gala held at Radio City Music Hall. And her reasoning might even help the former royal get back into the queen’s good graces: ”I want to see it with my daughters,” says a dutiful Ferguson, explaining that daughters Beatrice, 8, and Eugenie, 6, are fans of the doggy tale as well as caregivers to two dalmatians, Barclay and Lady. ”They’re charming,” says the duchess of the pups, who, like their mistress, have a way of getting caught in unflattering poses. Although they weren’t snapped licking Diane Sawyer’s toes during her recent interview with Fergie, the mottled twosome were implicated in their own tabloid scandal, accused of killing a small deer that was grazing on the golf course near the duchess’ home. ”The story is absolute rubbish,” says Fergie, whose mantra these days is to set the record straight. ”No doubt that’s the same paper that said I was going to sell my children to the queen.”