Fergie Takes Manhattan, Skirts Scandal at Book Show


By big media standards the publishing industry's annual trade show, Book Expo America, tends to be a fairly sleepy affair. Sure, there was that time in 2003 when Al Franken -- not yet a Senator, still a comedian -- and Fox News (NWS) anchor Bill O'Reilly engaged in a sniping match so spirited it remains one of the show's most memorable moments. But such times are uncommon.

This morning, however, Bill and Al may have met their match. Even yesterday evening's keynote speech from Barbra Streisand, on hand to promote her upcoming book, didn't attract the television cameras and media scrum like the early morning breakfast. That's because Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, fulfilled her long-scheduled appearance for her "Helping Hands" series of children's books. Fergie showed despite making front-page headlines recently for offering an undercover reporter more than $700,000 for access to her ex-husband Prince Andrew -- all caught on tape. (Tuesday night she appeared at a Barnes & Noble (BKS) store on New York's Upper West Side, also well-documented by reporters and photographers.)

According to the Associated Press, Ferguson didn't make any direct reference to the scandal, but did allude to it in a self- deprecating fashion. "As you all know, I really don't like grown-ups. I prefer children," she told a crowd of several hundred booksellers and industry professionals. "It was quite difficult for me to get to Javits Center today. One or two people in the way. You might have heard that." Then, quickly getting back to business, she held up the most recent book in the series, Matthew and the Bullies. At which point she said: "I'm a children's book author. I'm a mom. I'm Sarah Ferguson and I'm very proud of it."

On Monday, the Duchess issued a statement of apology for the bribery scandal, saying that her precarious financial situation was "no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment" She added: "I can confirm that the Duke of York was not aware or involved in any of the discussions that occurred." But that might not be enough for British MP John Mann, who urged Ferguson to come clean or face an inquiry from Parliament.