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The Duchess does H’wood

During her appearance Tuesday on NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson confirmed she is interested in hosting a daytime talkshow.

Although she said her children are her first priority, Ferguson said she was interested in learning show business. “Now I want to go forward and do the crazy talkshow or whatever,” she said, adding that if she decides to host her own show, “I think I better take a few tips from you, Jay.”

Word of a possible Fergie talker surfaced just before Thanksgiving (Daily Variety, Nov. 27), and she began meetings Wednesday with Hollywood studios. ICM has set up meetings, which continue today, with the majority of major distributors in town including Twentieth TV, Buena Vista TV, ABC, Universal TV, Paramount Domestic TV and King World.

Sources say Ferguson had dinner Tuesday evening with ABC Entertainment president Jamie Tarses, chairman Ted Harbert and former “Late Show With David Letterman” executive producer Robert Morton, who has an overall development deal at ABC.

While ABC does not necessarily have a leg up on the competition, sources said Morton may be interested in producing a show with Ferguson if ABC makes the winning bid. ABC is considering the show as a possible replacement for the struggling “Caryl & Marilyn.”

Even if a talkshow does not come through, sources said ABC is hoping to sign Ferguson to host at least one primetime special for the network, which one source described as “adventures with the duchess.” The network does not comment on development deals.

While some distribs are questioning whether Ferguson, who has no TV experience, can carry her own show, the idea still is intriguing because of its novelty and her fame.

If ICM cuts a deal for Ferguson that’s in the range of Rosie O’Donnell’s talkshow deal with Warner Bros., Ferguson could potentially make $5 million a year plus profit participation in the show. Sources said Ferguson has taken no firm offers yet, and add there’s no guarantee anything substantive will come of her Hollywood meetings.

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