MORNING ROUNDUP: Oprah Winfrey Told Sarah Ferguson to Stay Away from Reality TV

7:22 AM PST 12/29/2010 by Georg Szalai
Stephen Lovekin/FFR/Getty Images

Plus: Nancy O’Dell on what bothered her about her "Access Hollywood" job, Bristol Palin’s new $172,000 suburban Phoenix home, Chuck Norris stars in a holiday hit, and Rihanna and Matt Kemp split while Kelsey Grammer eyes a wedding.

- Oprah Winfrey says she steered Sarah Ferguson, the former Duchess of York, away from hosting a celebrity cooking show and Dancing With the Stars, the New York Post reported, citing parade.com.

Ferguson will appear in docu series Finding Sarah on Winfrey’s OWN, the cable network joint venture with Discovery Communications that launches Saturday.

Fergie started e-mailing her and asked for her thoughts on her potentially doing a celebrity chef show, Winfrey told Parade. "I said, That's not going to help you. How are you going to rehabilitate yourself on a celebrity chef show? You should be working on yourself," Winfrey recounted. She also recalled offering this advice: “Don’t let me see you on Dancing with the Stars.”

Last May, the cash-strapped Ferguson tried to sell access to her former husband Prince Andrew for over $700,000 to an undercover newspaper reporter. “She said she didn’t want to go into bankruptcy,” Winfrey told Parade. “I said, “But when you look at that tape, don’t you see a morally bankrupted person? The one thing you were trying to avoid, you already are.” She said, “I never thought of it that way before.”

- In a chat with the New York Post, former Access Hollywood anchor Nancy O’Dell had some choice words for her former employer and talked about her recent appointment to succeed retiring Entertainment Tonight anchor Mary Hart.
“I'm sure Access wouldn't have let me out of my contract if they had known" that ET was interested, she told the paper. Discussing her decision to quit her old job a year ago, O’Dell told the Post she had had two years left on her Access contract. “I had feelers out there and had taken meetings," but there had been no promise of an ET job, she explained.

O’Dell also had choice words for her old employer, arguing there was a push for more scandal coverage at Access. "It didn't feel like the right fit anymore," she told the Post.

The switch to the new show seems natural to her as she called ET “the gold standard.” Also, "everybody already thought I worked at Entertainment Tonight anyway," she told the paper.  "It was frustrating when I worked at Access... I would walk through an airport and people would say, 'Nancy O'Dell! Da-da-da-da-da-da!' They'd sing the Entertainment Tonight theme song!"

- Real estate agents in the Phoenix area are seeing early signs of an uptick in interest after the recent acquisition of a house by Bristol Palin. The New York Post on Wednesday has those and some more details on Palin's new five-bedroom, 3,900 square-foot home in suburban Phoenix, which the former Dancing With the Stars contestant recently bought for $172,000. The asking price had been reduced from $185,000 to $174,900, but the property sold for $329,560 in 2006 before being foreclosed.

But Dana Hubbell, a realtor in the larger Phoenix market, told the Post that Palin should have bought in a more upscale neighborhood since home prices are low across the state. "I am sure she can afford more and better protect her investment,” the realtor said.

- Action-movie hero Chuck Norris is starring in a holiday season hit, but not at the U.S. box office, but in Czech TV commercials, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The 70-year-old martial arts expert is making fun of his tough-guy roles of the past in humorous commercials for Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile and its satellite TV service, which a company rep told the Journal have exceeded expectations for new contract sign-ups. The ads feature Norris in encounters with Czech Christmas customs and see him, for example, faint when someone kills a carp for a holiday dinner. As the hostess tries to revive him, her husband says: "On TV, anybody can be tough."

- Microsoft co-founder and early DreamWorks investor Paul Allen, via his Interval Licensing, has amended a pantent lawsuit against such big-name tech companies as Google, Apple, AOL, Facebook, Netflix and eBay, among others, AllThingsD reported.
The lawsuit, whose original version was dismissed and needed an update by Tuesday, claims that Allen owns patents on technology that is being used without his permission.

- The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the trading of shares in privately held companies, including online powerhouses such as Facebook and Twitter, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Trading of such shares before an IPO has become popular on small, private exchanges over the past year, helping to boost the valuations of hot tech players.
The news of the probe comes as the Journal reported that current tech sector darling Groupon, which offers daily deals and recently snubbed a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google, is looking to raise $950 million in private funds.

- Rihanna and LA Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp have decided to break up after about a year together, according to  UsMagazine.com. "She basically was just over it," it quoted a source as saying. Kemp helped Rihanna, 22, move on from her troubled relationship with Chris Brown.

- Kelsey Grammer told People that he is indeed looking to marry fiancee Kayte Walsh soon.
"Kayte and I are marrying because we are engaged, and we are engaged because we are in love and see no reason to postpone our happiness any longer," the actor said.
After recent reports that he is looking for a divorce from wife Camille, 42,  soon, Grammer did not detail when the couple plans to have the wedding, but said: "We are planning something we wish to be a private affair among several of our friends.”
 

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