Those whispers about Melissa Etheridge are true: She will play Port Arthur–born Janis Joplin in a forthcoming feature film. Director Mark Rocco (Murder in the First) has secured the rights to Myra Friedman’s 1973 Joplin bio, Buried Alive, and the rights to Joplin’s songs, and he’s talking to Etheridge’s label, Island Records, about having the perennial pop-chart topper cut a soundtrack CD. Rocco didn’t originally intend to use Friedman’s book—he originally wanted to work from Love, Janis, the 1992 bio written by Joplin’s sister, Laura. But Laura’s agent balked at a deal, perhaps because Etheridge has no acting experience. “I explained that she’s been singing Janis’ songs in the mirror since she was sixteen, like Diana Ross with Lady Sings the Blues,” Rocco says. “But no one believed she could pull it off.” Rocco waited three months, then took matters into his own hands. Now he’s lining up Brad Pitt to portray Kris Kristofferson and Gary Oldman for the role of producer Paul Rothchild—and he may get Kevin Bacon to play in Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Bank Shot

Crime apparently doesn’t pay these days unless it is morphed into something really strange. This fall, CBS airs a TV movie based on Texas Monthly senior editor Skip Hollandsworth’s “The Almost Great Bank Robbery,” which was published in November 1992. But the details of the case—a teller and her policeman boyfriend conspire to hold up the San Antonio bank where she works and almost get away with it—must not have been sexy enough, for the finished product is only “inspired” by actual events; for instance, the setting is now a fictional town in North Carolina. And the cast is hardly what you’d call substantive: Although Rip Torn plays an FBI agent, Brooke Shields is the teller, and Mujibar—the talkative half of David Letterman’s favorite retail team—is a cell-phone-toting East Indian suspect. “Black comedy was a more interesting way to go,” says producer Randy Robinson. “We wanted something like the movie about the cheerleader-murder plot.”

Marfa Stewart Living

A Connecticut Yankee in West Texas, peeling potatoes and shucking corn? It�s an entertaining thought�and indeed there she was, Martha Stewart herself, doing what amounted to KP duty in the tiny kitchen of Marfa�s Chinati Foundation. During the third week of May, the high priestess of home and garden descended on the artists outpost founded by the late Donald Judd to oversee a photo shoot for an upcoming issue of Martha Stewart Living. �It was all very down to earth,� says chef Grady Spears of Alpine�s Reata restaurant, which provided a feast for the shoot that included mesquite-grilled ribs, pork empanadas, and smoked-chicken tamales. Proper etiquette: Stewart donated a set of white dishes to cash-strapped Chinati upon her departure. Improper etiquette: The helicopter that later spirited Stewart to nearby Fort Davis to buy cowboy hats for her New York friends tried to land on a Richard Long sculpture of Icelandic lava rocks shaped like a bull�s-eye.