Sharon Osbourne -- the matriarch and business mastermind behind MTV's popular unscripted series "The Osbournes" -- has reportedly signed a deal with AOL Time Warner's Telepictures Productions unit to host a weekday talk show that would tentatively premiere in the fall of 2003.
Warner Bros., which would syndicate the program to television stations, declined to comment, as did representatives for the Osbournes at the Endeavor talent agency. Industry sources, however, say the agency had been seeking a commitment to Osbourne of $3 million to $5 million.
Several questions linger over any potential project, not the least being that Osbourne is battling colon cancer, casting doubt over her ability to withstand the rigors of a daily production schedule.
Still, program distributors have been hungry for the next talk-show hit, and the Osbournes currently are basking in considerable recognition. On Wednesday, Osbourne's Barbara Walters interview on a special edition of ABC's "20/20" attracted 15.3 million viewers, based on Nielsen Media Research estimates -- delivering the newsmagazine's highest rating in the young-adult demographics sought by advertisers in more than two years.