''Ally McBeal'' and William Shatner made the news this week

By Dave Karger and Joe Dziemianowicz
Updated October 23, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Legal Aid Don’t believe a guest gig on Ally McBeal can have a deep impact on a career? If it worked for the Dancing Baby, maybe it can work for Richard Lee Jackson, 19, who played the young, barely legal cutie-pie Ally had the hots for in the sophomore-season opener. Since the show aired Sept. 14, Jackson, an alum of Saved by the Bell: The New Class, says his manager’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing. ”A lot of people are asking for meetings,” says Jackson, ”like DreamWorks and Spelling [Entertainment]. You know, I’m not exactly Leonardo DiCaprio, but I’m getting a lot more offers than I used to.” So far Jackson has signed a ”series holding deal” with Fox, giving them dibs on the actor through June 1999. He’s also just hired powerhouse talent agency CAA to represent him. Beyond that, Jackson takes the Fifth on revealing other potential projects. ”Until I sign on the dotted line,” he says, ”I’m not going to blab.” Seems McBeal‘s legal eagle savvy — and not just her lipstick — has rubbed off on him.

‘Trek’ Track For anyone who hasn’t suffered through William Shatner’s howling 1968 rendition of ”Mr. Tambourine Man,” here’s fair warning: Capt. Kirk has returned to the mike. On Fear of Pop, a new experimental CD from singer-pianist Ben Folds, Shatner performs on ”In Love,” narrating the story of a relationship gone sour. Although he doesn’t actually sing, the song does feature Shatner’s trademark hammy, apropos-of-nothing inflections (”So now you have me completely figured out…”). ”I bought his record The Transformed Man at a yard sale when I was 12. It’s actually really good,” says Folds, 31, who wrote the track especially for Shatner and sent him a letter asking for the use of his golden throat. ”I didn’t know who he was,” admits Shatner, 67, who was persuaded to do the project by his three daughters and his assistant. ”I thought, ‘The hell with it, I’ll take another shot at making a total idiot of myself.”’ Although ”In Love” won’t be released as a single, Folds has commissioned three dance mixes of the song and is hoping it will live long and prosper on the club scene. ”Marvelous!” bellows Shatner. ”I think I’d tap-dance to it.”

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