NEW YORK – Sharon Osbourne, who is set to start her own talk show next fall, has suddenly jumped to the head of the class -- ahead of such household names as comic Ellen DeGeneres, former Dutchess of York Sarah Ferguson and Cheers' star Kirstie Alley.
Getting TV stations to clear time for a new talk show in daytime is traditionally very difficult -- but Sharon is now the one new show every station wants to see before they commit to new schedule for Fall 2003.
Fresh off a mega-rated Barbara Walters' interview and with the new season of The Osbournes around the corner, Sharon emerged last week as a potential daytime star.
DeGeneres, Fergie and Alley are also deep into preparations for new talk shows to debut next year and had a good chance to capture promising time slots on big stations -- until this week, according to industry experts.
"Stations will probably be interested her because she's a very hot personality and that's how television works," says Mediaweek TV industry analyst Marc Berman. "There's nobody hotter than her right now and that family."
Alan Bell, the president and CEO of Freedom Communications, a station group that owns eight ABC affiliates and 5 CBS stations, says he wants to see a pilot episode first.
"It's a bad mistake to try and prejudge something that doesn't exist," he says.
"All of us have had the experience of buying shows that sounded great in the proposal and turned out dreadful.