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Fergie's Waiting in the Wings

Fergie (search)'s U.S. talk show may be down but it's not out.

Fergie, a talk show starring the Duchess of York, had been a hot contender to land on NBC's daytime schedule next fall but has been seriously postponed until sometime in 2004.

Ellen DeGeneres' (search) new talker, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, has been credited as the reason Ferguson won't hit the air as planned.

"There was one slot for the fall on our major launch partner and we didn't get it," a spokesman for Universal Domestic Television said.

It's been widely reported that Universal had been talking to the NBC station group about Ferguson's show. It was not even offered to other station groups besides NBC, sources said.

For now it appears that Universal officials are banking on one of the four major syndicated shows on NBC's slate --  The John Walsh Show, Starting Over (debuting Fall '03), The Jane Pauley Show (Fall '04) or The Ellen DeGeneres Show -- to fold some time during or before next year.

"We expect the show to be on the air 2004," a Fergie spokesman said yesterday.

The show will keep Sarah Ferguson (search) commuting from London to New York, where it will be filmed.

The duchess, who has transformed her reputation from being the black sheep of the royal family to workhorse, got a small taste of what to expect last April when she began filming the pilot for Fergie.

"My girls made me do it," the mother of two teens told a London news-magazine last winter. "I didn't want to, but they are the ones who think it is so cool to have a mum in New York."

No stranger to hardship, the outgoing Fergie would seem to have all the making of a great talk show host: she had a rough childhood, was publicly humiliated when her marriage to Prince Andrew (search) failed and has since rebuilt her life and her image.

At the moment, Ferguson remains the spokeswoman for Weight-Watchers and Wedgewood china.