ABC Wins First Interview With Amanda Knox
Diane Sawyer, the anchor of ABC’s “World News,” will conduct the interview of Ms. Knox, which will be televised in prime time on April 30, the network said. A book by Ms. Knox, “Waiting to Be Heard,” will be published the same day.
The case of Ms. Knox, an American college student who was convicted of murdering her Italian housemate in 2009, then freed two years later when an appeals court overturned the conviction, has been covered in painstaking detail by the American television networks. One of Ms. Sawyer’s colleagues, Elizabeth Vargas, led the coverage on ABC, which included several prime-time specials.
Producers for NBC, ABC and CBS have been fighting to secure interviews with Ms. Knox for years, in part by getting to know her family members and friends. During the appeals trial, there was a dispute over whether an ABC producer “baby-sat” two daughters of Curt Knox, Ms. Knox’s father.
Curt Knox said the producer “was very kind to offer to let the girls stay in her hotel room during court sessions,” but did not “baby-sit.” Mr. Knox said that his daughters also stayed in the room of a CBS producer, and that an NBC producer offered the same treatment.
Some of the producers were on the same flight as Ms. Knox when she returned to the United States in October 2011. Ms. Knox retained Bob Barnett, the Washington lawyer who represents many authors, politicians and television reporters, to negotiate a book deal and the all-important first television interview. Such interviews are seen as a critically important way to sell books.
The book deal was with HarperCollins, a subsidiary of the News Corporation. Then the bargaining with the TV networks began. At various times in 2012, when television producers were asked to name their most-sought-after interview subject, they almost uniformly named Ms. Knox.
The networks generally say they don’t pay for interviews, but they have been known to license photos, videos and other materials from interview subjects. ABC cracked down on the licensing practice in mid-2011, and a spokesman said Monday that Ms. Knox was not compensated in any way for the interview.
What ABC could and did offer, instead, was an hour in prime time; teases of the interview on “World News,” the newly-first-place morning show “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” and ABC’s local TV and radio affiliates; and exposure on Yahoo through ABCNews.com’s alliance with that popular home page and search engine.
Within the television industry this is called the “package.” NBC and CBS also offered such packages to Mr. Barnett and Ms. Knox. But she chose ABC and Ms. Sawyer, who has scored several other book-related interviews in recent years, including one with Gabrielle Giffords in 2011 and one with Jaycee Dugard in 2012.
SOURCE: ARTICLE BY THE NEW YORK TIMES, FEB. 11, 2013