Madoff TV Interviews Spur Great Ratings, Lousy Book Sales
A flurry of Bernie Madoff-related publicity tied to the release of two new books involving Madoff family members delivered high ratings for ABC’s 20/20 and CBS’ 60 Minutes, but failed to entice viewers to buy the books.
Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family by Laurie Sandell and written with the cooperation of the convicted Wall Street Ponzi-schemer’s son Andrew sits at No. 65 on the Barnes & Noble online sales rankings and No. 76 on Amazon. The End of Normal: A Wife’s Anguish, A Widow’s New Life by Stephanie Mack Madoff resides at No. 102 on Amazon but is at No. 58 on Barnes & Noble.
ABC aired the first Madoff family member interview on October 21, when Mack, the widow of Bernie’s son, Mark, appeared on 20/20. The show scored its best ratings since February 2010, with 7.6 million viewers overall and a 2.1 rating in the 18-49 demographic. The End of Normal, published by Blue Rider Press, hit bookstores on October 20.
Neither Madoff Mack nor Blue Rider commented on the size of Ms. Madoff Mack's advance.
ABC tried to build on being the first to air a Madoff family member interview by having Barbara Walters report on a two-hour jailhouse interview with Bernie Madoff himself on World News with Diane Sawyer and Nightline. Since prison rules forbid filming interviews, the story consisted solely of Walters reporting what Madoff said.
60 Minutes aired interviews with Ruth, Bernie’s wife, and Andrew Madoff promoting Truth and Consequences on October 30. That broadcast was watched by 18.5 million viewers, the show’s largest audience in almost a year and its best performance in the 25-54 demographic in nearly three years. Truth and Consequences, published by Little Brown, went on sale on October 31.
Though neither mother nor son has a financial stake in the success of Truth and Consequences, Sandell wrote the book with Andrew's cooperation. Some reports have said that Andrew’s fiancé Catherine Hooper, who brought Sandell into the project, is getting a share of the book’s profits. Neither publisher Little Brown, Sandell, nor Hooper has commented on any financial arrangement, including the amount of the publisher's advance. Ruth agreed to an interview in the hopes of repairing her fractured relationship with Andrew.
Ruth Madoff followed the 60 Minutes interview with an exclusive print interview with journalist Diana Henrique’s in The New York Times. That story appeared online the night of October 30 and in print on October 31. The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, Henriques’ April 2011 book on the Madoff scandal, languishes far down on Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s sales charts.