Shannen Doherty: Jennifer Graylock/AP
Gary Susman
August 07, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Shannen Doherty is stocking up on sunblock and packing her bags for Hawaii. Starting Sept. 20, Variety reports, she’ll join the cast of Fox’s ”North Shore,” playing Alexandra Fuller, the long-estranged sister of Brooke Burns’ character. She’ll appear on three episodes as the bitchy Alexandra, with a possibility of more if she perks up the struggling series’ ratings enough to prevent its cancellation.

Fox’s hiring of its former ”Beverly Hills, 90210” star marks a familiar strategy for the network. Call it the Heather Locklear gambit, after the hiring of the veteran TV vixen during the sparsely viewed first season of ”Melrose Place” to goose ratings by adding a diva character that viewers would love to hate. ”Our viewers still have an attachment to her,” Fox VP Craig Erwich told Variety. When it comes to nighttime soaps, he said,  ”Shannen’s one of the best players for that [genre].”

”The comparison to Heather has been brought up to me,” said Doherty, whose last regular drama gig was on ”Charmed.” ”It’s great to be compared to her. I’m lucky because I have a really loyal fan base and I hope they come over.”

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