Casey Anthony Teams With TV Producer to Shop $750,000 Interview Special (Exclusive)

4:33 PM PST 12/14/2011 by Marisa Guthrie
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Los Angeles-based Scott Sternberg Productions is behind the proposed interview show, which multiple networks have passed on pursuing.

A Los Angeles-based TV producer is shopping the first interview with Casey Anthony, who was acquitted in July of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony.

The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Scott Sternberg and his Scott Sternberg Productions have been quietly pitching a no-holds-bared interview with Anthony, who has been lying low since being released July 17 after nearly three years in a Florida jail.

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Multiple sources say Sternberg is asking between $500,000 and $750,000 to deliver Anthony, a hefty license fee to be sure. According to sources with knowledge of the proposal, networks can choose the interviewer and Scott Sternberg Productions would co-produce the program. But so far, multiple cable networks have declined. Spokespeople for Discovery Communications' TLC and ID confirmed that the networks have passed on the project. A&E Networks, which includes Lifetime and A&E, also has passed, says a spokesperson.

HLN has not been approached, says a network spokesperson, who adds that the cable news network would not pay for an interview with Anthony anyway. MSNBC has also not been pitched the project. But sources at the NBCUniversal-owned cable channel also say they would not pony up for Anthony, who has become the target of national outrage since her acquittal.

In fact, Anthony’s pariah status has already spurred news divisions to publicly disavow the common and age-old practice of licensing personal photos and home video from interview subjects as a fig leaf to paying outright for interviews. And ABC News, CBS News and NBC News all have stated adamantly that they would not pay for an Anthony interview specifically.

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Further complicating matters is that while the interview would likely be a ratings hit, it is not likely to be a moneymaker since it would be difficult to get advertisers to support a program that featured Anthony.

“It will get very good ratings,” muses one cable source. “But who would want to put their ads in that kind of show?”

Indeed, sources at MSNBC say that after the network covered July’s verdict, executives there were inundated with thousands of angry e-mails from viewers promising to boycott MSNBC if Anthony were granted a platform.

“The backlash would not be worth it,” says another cable executive.

Sternberg is a veteran TV producer who is behind ID's On the Case With Paula Zahn and Shatner's Raw Nerve on Bio, among others. He declined to comment.

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MSNBC recently became the target of criticism for licensing a British documentary for a reported $500,000 about Dr. Conrad Murray. The license fee came with a pre-verdict interview with Michael Jackson’s former doctor, who was convicted of manslaughter last month in the 2009 death of the pop star. The film's producer, U.K.-based October Films, said that Murray was paid only a "contractual notional $1" for his cooperation. 

Executors for Jackson’s estate characterized the documentary as “reprehensible” and urged the network not to air it. It was broadcast as planned Nov. 11 and netted MSNBC a win it the demo among cable news competitors in its Friday time slot.

It's safe to say interest in Anthony remains intense almost six months after she walked out of a Florida prison a free woman; the 24-year-old’s furtive movements have been breathlessly chronicled in blog posts that have put her everywhere from Ohio to Puerto Rico to holed up on Geraldo Rivera’s yacht.

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HLN – with coverage punctuated by Nancy Grace’s railings against the “tot mom” – posted record ratings for its wall-to-wall coverage of the trial, recording its best ratings ever July 5 when more than 5 million viewers tuned in for the verdict. 

And Lifetime is in the early stages of development on a potential television movie based on retired prosecutor Jeff Ashton’s recently released book, Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony. The book, which chronicles the three-year trial, shot to the top of the sales list at BarnesandNobles.com shortly after it was announced in August. But Lifetime, which has not yet given a green light to the film, has stressed that the potential project would be told from the point-of-view of prosecutors, not Anthony.

Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com
Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie

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