A Hit at the Palace and Boffo on Broadway, Fergie's Taking Her Act (and Andy) to Hollywood

updated 02/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Hollywood loves royalty so much it creates its own. Next week, though, it's going to have to settle for the real thing. Andy and Fergie (the Duke and Duchess of York, to give them their full marquee titles) are stopping by for more than a week to do the usual royal things—wave the Union Jack, make nice with the locals and take lunch.

Prince Andrew got less than rave reviews the last time he visited L.A. (in 1984, when he was still the tabloids' beloved Randy Andy) because he turned a spray-painting device on reporters. Hollywood, however, is a sucker for a sequel, so Andy is coming back, and this time he's bringing his leading lady of nearly two years, that fabulous redhead, now three months pregnant and counting. The Yorks (they're not the Waleses, of course, but Hollywood also has a warm spot for understudies) are here as honorary patrons of UK/LA, a festival featuring British contributions to the arts and sciences that will run through April.

The Yorks arrive next Friday and will spend their nights on the royal yacht Britannia, moored in Long Beach. They'll leave the City of Angels on March 4 for a weekend in Palm Springs. Their host there will be Walter Annenberg, U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's during the Nixon years and a guy who always seems to have a spare bedroom for royalty.

What exactly will Andrew and Fergie be doing in L.A. besides soaking up the rays? For culture there will be a visit to the David Hockney retrospective at the Los Angeles County Art Museum. Hockney is a British expatriate, and his paintings of male nudes and swimming pools ought to plunge the royals right into the L.A. scene. They'll also be checking out exhibits devoted to things British at the California Museum of Science and Industry and hearing André Previn conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic as it plays Haydn's London Symphony No. 104 (Haydn was Austrian, but, hey, it was a long time ago). Other stops will include a Sunday service at St. Luke's Episcopal church in Long Beach (the rector, the Rev. A. LeRoy Young, has already been told to keep his sermon to seven minutes), a fashion show at the downtown Stock Exchange Club (Guess? Jeans will be modeled) and a tour of UCLA and a children's hospital.

There will also, of course, be dinners and lunches (all the chefs have been warned to stay away from shellfish, which Fergie dislikes), the most lavish a Feb. 28 gala dinner to benefit UK/LA and the L.A. library. Jointly sponsored by Armand Hammer of Occidental and Lodwrick Cook of Arco, that one will feature 10-person tables going for $10,000 each. The Yorks' fellow Brit Joan Collins has RSVP'ed.

But that's just the schedule—dullsville indeed. Let's get down to the real Hollywood question: Sure, Fergie's a big name, and she proved she could compete with Broadway stars last month when she starred from the audience at The Phantom of the Opera, but is she box office? What are her chances if she decides to join that long line of dewy-eyed ingenues who step off the bus at Hollywood and Vine and vow to take the town by storm?

Richard Fischoff, a senior VP for production at Tri-Star Pictures, sums up Fergie's star potential with that subtlety so characteristic of moguls: "Her strength is her energy, and her weakness is that there's something horsey about her." Mike Fenton, who cast E.T., agrees that Fergie would be miscast as a glamour girl, but says, "She could play the girl next door, the best friend." (Don't worry, Ferg, they used to say that about the guy in the White House.) Adds Fenton: "She is a big, tall girl, and that is not a big plus in our business because our leading men are relatively so short."

Her size notwithstanding, independent casting director Mindy Marin is sure Fergie could have a Tinseltown future. "Fergie is movie material," she says, suggesting her for the Eliza Doolittle role in a remake of My Fair Lady. Pat Tourk Lee, producer of HBO's Not Necessarily the News, has her in mind for the same role ("If she can sing even a third as well as Audrey Hepburn didn't"), as does actor Michael York, especially after it was pointed out that if he and Fergie starred together, the ads could say, "Starring the Yorks!"

Hollywood insiders also see Fergie as a natural for the Lynn Redgrave role in a Georgy Girl remake. "It would take advantage of her inherent frumpiness," says writer Barry (Crimes of Passion) Sandler. "She could play my role, sure," says Redgrave, who thinks the duchess would be even more perfect for Pippi Longstocking, the good-hearted, red-haired hellion from Swedish storybooks. "She has the same coloring, the same joie de vivre."

Would Fergie have to audition? No way, says Barry Krost, personal manager of Elizabeth Montgomery and Carol Kane. "She's beyond auditions. She auditioned before the marriage and landed the part, so she must be doing something right."

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