Alexandra Jacobs and Matthew Flamm
February 13, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

Duchess of Fork
Never mind that the former Duchess of Pork admits she’s “not a cook.” Newly svelte Sarah Ferguson, recently mistaken for Ginger Spice by a 6-year-old hospital invalid, braved Washington, D.C., last month to plug her Simon & Schuster cookbook Dining With the Duchess. Will the Weight Watchers spokesmodel appear on fellow dieter Oprah Winfrey’s show? Fat chance. Fergie’s regime, which advises acolytes to “get adventurous with wine,” is a smidge more liberal than Winfrey’s, which all but forbids the stuff. “Thank heavens,” exults the middle America-loving duchess. “When Weight Watchers said you can have a six-ounce glass of white wine for two points, I said fantastic. I’ll spend all my points. I’ll have a bottle!”

Comedy is Pretty
The comedian, movie star, and sometime playwright Steve Martin has just sold a collection of short comic essays and stories (many of which have appeared in The New Yorker). Hyperion executive editor Leigh Haber paid around $600,000 for the book, tentatively titled Pure Drivel. Though celebrity humor titles have had a spotty track record of late, Hyperion landed George Carlin, Chris Rock, and Drew Carey on the best-seller list last year. Martin may also be able to combine publicity chores if the book, due in November, coincides with the release of his next movie, The Out-of-Towners.

John on the Spot
Jerry Oppenheimer, author of Just Desserts, last year’s highly unauthorized biography of Martha Stewart, has set his sights on another media darling: John F. Kennedy Jr. “For all the coverage of him and his wife and his magazine, no one really knows who he is,” says Mitchell Ivers, the Pocket Books editor who acquired the book from agent Joni Evans for a high six-figure sum. Oppenheimer, who skipped from Morrow for his new deal, has already explored America’s most famous family in The Other Mrs. Kennedy, a 1994 expose of Ethel Kennedy. Ivers adds that the new book, due in late 1999, will be “thorough and searching and honest,” which ought to make the mediaphobic Kennedy feel just great.

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