ABC's "Good Morning America" has Chuck and Di; NBC's "Today" is going after Fergie.
The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is in final talks to become a contributing correspondent on the nation's most watched morning news show.
She'll be tapped to do features, interviews, possible celebrity chats--"people that I can't get Katie [Couric] and Matt [Lauer] to do because of travel or time constraints," said the show's executive producer, Jeff Zucker.
Just as he recently decided to hire actress Florence Henderson to co-host a "Today" lead-out show after a guest appearance on the program, Zucker says the Fergie bug bit him when she showed up as a guest.
"She was dynamic and full of life and really connected," Zucker says. "It struck me, why not give it a shot?"
It also helped that he'd seen and liked her hosting gig on a daytime talk show for Britain's Sky TV. On "Sarah . . . Surviving Life," the ex-wife of Prince Andrew interviewed "real, proper people who've been through hell," as she described it in an interview at the time of its October '98 debut.
"It's part of a bigger issue with me," Zucker said of the Fergie hire. "People call me in the press . . . saying, 'How do you keep it fresh, you're being attacked' " by a new show at CBS and a revamped "GMA" with morning talk's royal couple, Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer; " 'They're coming after you and they want to knock your head off and you've been top four years running now, you can't stay on top forever.'
"We're continuously looking for . . . things that are not the same-old same-old. This struck me as a potential way to keep the show fresh." He admits that not all of his ideas will pan out, but added, "I have a good gut feeling about this one."
Fergie's blue blood didn't play in the decision to offer her a job, Zucker insisted, except in that being part of Britain's royal family has made her "instantly recognizable" in the United States. That's a big plus in Zucker's book, and one of the qualities he also used to describe the former Mrs. Brady Bunch, who will co-anchor "Later Today" when it debuts this fall.
But, he adds, Fergie will stay clear of doing "British stuff" for "Today." And, she definitely won't touch The Firm--Fergie's own John Grisham-esque description of Buckingham Palace.
"That's not what this is all about," Zucker said. "This is about another correspondent who connects with people."
With graduation ceremonies now over, WB has set the date for the season finale of "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer." It's July 13 at 8 p.m.--seven weeks after it was supposed to air.
WB planned to broadcast the finale May 25 as the second of a two-part season-wrapper. It features Buffy and the seniors of Sunnydale High attacking the mayor with weapons during their graduation ceremony because he's turned into a monster--literally.
WB pulled the episode at the 11th hour, fearing that a copycat incident at any of the country's 35,000 junior high, high school and college graduation ceremonies would have repercussions for the network. And with good reason. WB, after all, is owned by Time Warner, which shortly before the decision to pull the "Buffy" episode had been ordered to cough up $25 mil when a jury found the company responsible for the shooting death of a guest on its "Jenny Jones Show" by another guest.
WB CEO Jamie Kellner said that the thousands of graduation ceremonies taking place in May and early June were one of "many issues" that caused the episode to be pulled. Foremost was "being sensitive and respectful to the two communities and individuals devastated by recent acts of violence in their local high schools."
Kellner says the network has received praise and criticism for the decision, and he apologized to "Buffy" fans for the delay. He added that he thought the series should win Emmys for its consistent quality.
However, the finale episode isn't eligible for this year's Primetime Emmy competition. The cutoff date was May 31.
Prime-time soap queen Heather Locklear is joining the cast of ABC's sitcom "Spin City."
The former "Melrose Place" bad girl will move to "Spin City" in the first episode of the coming season, which will be the sitcom's fourth. She'll play the new campaign manager for New York City's mayor (Barry Bostwick); Michael J. Fox stars as the deputy mayor.
This is bad news for NBC's "3rd Rock From the Sun," which will compete against the Locklear-ed "Spin City" on Tuesday nights at 8 starting this fall. Nor is it welcome news for Fox's "repurposed" half-hour "Ally McBeal" reruns, which also will air in that slot.
Locklear is best known for her starring role as scheming Amanda Woodward on the Fox series "Melrose Place," which called it a day in May. She reportedly was offered another role by the show's producer, Aaron Spelling--he also does "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Seventh Heaven"--but opted instead for the "Spin City" offer from its producer, DreamWorks SKG.
Locklear first came to prominence when she starred in two concurrent series: prime-time soap "Dynasty" and cop show "T.J. Hooker."
CAPTION: Fergie, a k a Sarah Ferguson, duchess of York, may soon become a contributing correspondent on NBC's "Today."