By Hal Boedeker, The Orlando Sentinel
ORLANDO, Fla. — The idea of paying Casey Anthony for an interview remains highly toxic.
A&E Networks officials acknowledge that they were approached about an interview several weeks ago, but that’s all. A&E doesn’t discuss projects it rejects, a publicist for the networks said. .
TLC passed on the interview, too, but isn’t saying anything else.
The Hollywood Reporter says Los Angeles-based Scott Sternberg Productions has “been quietly pitching a no-holds-barred interview with Anthony” for $500,000 to $750,000.
But Sternberg on Thursday released this statement: “Scott Sternberg Productions has not teamed up with Casey Anthony. As a producer of entertainment content we constantly have discussions about a variety of subjects with a number of networks. But there simply is no deal or offers out.”
Yet the latest development raises the question: How much does the public want to hear from Anthony?
“Someone will interview her. It is a big world out there and there is a lot of interest in her story, still,” said Al Tompkins, an instructor at the Poynter Institute.
“Networks know they simply cannot pay for this one. Not in any form,” Tompkins said. “They would be rightfully crucified. But, after all, she was acquitted and she has every right to say what she wants to say. They just don’t have to pay for it.”
In July, Anthony was acquitted of murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie. But she remains a pariah as she serves a year’s probation for check fraud somewhere in Florida.
“Recent history suggests it can be damaging to a media outlet to go into business with someone the public perceives has gotten away with something criminal,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. He cites the example of O.J. Simpson’s book, “If I Did It,” which cost a publisher her job.
“If she 1/8Anthony3/8 were to do it for free, the interview would happen,” Rosenstiel said. “Will someone pay for it? It depends on how much money she wants and the expectation of what she would say.”
But such arrangements are problematic for serious news organizations, Rosenstiel said, because they change the relationship between the source and the news outlet. A source could embellish a story to justify the payment.
After the Anthony verdict in July, defense attorney Jose Baez dismissed speculation that he was negotiating a paid interview.
ABC negotiated a $200,000 deal with Baez in 2008, for licensing photos and video, before Anthony was charged in her daughter’s death. That deal, revealed in 2010, set off a furor over journalistic ethics and practices.
After Anthony’s acquittal, an ABC source said the network wouldn’t be involved in a bidding war for an Anthony interview.
“We’ve talked with Baez about getting an interview with Casey Anthony,” an NBC spokeswoman said then. “But only under NBC News standards and conditions — no payment and absolutely no job offers for any member of her defense team.”
“Dr. Phil” McGraw isn’t interested in an Anthony interview, either. He interviewed Anthony’s parents, George and Cindy, to start his current season, and his production company made a contribution to their Caylee’s Fund. But McGraw has repeatedly said he has no interest in talking to Casey Anthony.
“I strongly doubt that any mainstream media source, such as a network or a major label cable outlet will pay a dime for the rights to this,” Tompkins said. “But it could be an online offering, it could be an independent film. If she wrote a book, it could be coupled with that release.”
Anthony’s decision to keep a low profile could work to her advantage eventually.
“The public’s fascination with this case is not going away,” Tompkins said. “[But3/8 the heat around it may cool with time,” Tompkins said.
Rosenstiel agreed about public fascination with Anthony. “She is one of the bigger newsmakers this year as a personal figure. This was one of the biggest sensational crime stories we’ve seen in years.”
©2011 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)