LAWSUIT The brother of Brynn Hartman, who is executor of her and husband Phil Hartman‘s estate, has filed a wrongful-death suit against the makers of the antidepressant Zoloft and her psychiatrist. Brynn was taking Zoloft (along with alcohol and cocaine) when she shot Phil and herself last May, and her brother Gregory Omdahl is claiming that Zoloft can cause violent and suicidal side effects in some people, and that her psychiatrist shouldn’t have prescribed it to her.
CASTING Carrie Anne-Moss (”The Matrix”) is jetting into space with Val Kilmer in ”Mars,” the story of an astronaut stranded on the Red Planet…. When casting a TV musical, ABC knows where to find the right talent: Broadway. For the network’s upcoming version of ”Annie,” it has gone to the Great White Way to recruit Tony winner Alan Cumming (”Cabaret”), Tony-nominated Kristin Chenoweth (”You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown”), and Victor Garber (”Art”). Kathy Bates is already set to play Miss Hannigan.
SUSPICIOUS AXING A potentially scathing biography of Disney chief Michael Eisner has been abruptly canceled by Broadway Books, which is demanding that the book’s author, Kim Masters, return half of her $700,000 advance. Masters’ lawyer has accused Broadway’s owner, Random House, of nixing the book as a favor to Eisner, whose autobiography it published last year. A spokesman for Random House said the only reason the book was axed was because ”we found the author’s reporting to be sadly inadequate…. When we acquired the book, Broadway was led to expect that, upon completion, it would be a groundbreaking and wide-ranging investigative book on the Disney company. It was anything but.” Meanwhile, rival publisher William Morrow is reportedly interested in scooping up Masters’ book, ”Keys to the Kingdom,” once Masters straightens out her contract issues with Broadway.
SWEEPS TALLIES May Sweeps has wrapped up, and NBC emerged the victor in the prized 18-49 category, trailed by Fox, then ABC, then CBS. The Eye network may not be able to lure in the young ‘uns, but it can draw in everybody else: CBS came in first for overall homes.
PERFORMING INXS will be regrouping for a concert on June 17, with Terence Trent D’Arby (of the 1988 hit, ”Wishing Well”) filling in for the band’s late lead vocalist, Michael Hutchence. The band maintains that D’Arby’s appearance is a one-shot deal, although the remaining members have announced that they are currently in the studio recording, but remained mum about who was singing with them.
RESIGNING Newsman Forest Sawyer is leaving ABC after nearly 11 years. His representative said that he was moving on to new ventures, and might be dabbling in new media.
FINAL SPLIT After a separation of almost six years, Ellen Barkin has filed for divorce from Gabriel Byrne. They have two children, ages 6 and 9.