Diane Sawyer Lands First Interview With Amanda Knox
ABC News has landed the long-coveted interview with Amanda Knox, the exchange student who was freed from an Italian jail in October 2011 where she was held for nearly four yeas in the stabbing death of her roommate Meredith Kercher.
Diane Sawyer will interview Knox, whose book about her ordeal - Waiting to Be Heard - is set to be published April 30 by HarperCollins, a subsidiary of News Corporation.
The interview - which has yet to be conducted - will air the same day at 10 p.m. in a primetime special with portions of it also airing on Good Morning America, World News and Nightline.
The interview will be Knox’s first since her release in 2011 and it was highly sought after – not only by U.S. news outlets but also globally because of the story’s transatlantic origins. Knox, who is from Seattle, was an exchange student in Perugia, Italy. Kercher was from South London. She was found stabbed to death Nov. 1, 2007 in her bedroom in the flat she shared with Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast native living in Italy, was convicted in 2008 of the murder and sexual assault of Kercher. But Italian prosecutors maintained that Knox conspired with Sollecito in the murder. Among the motives suggested for the killing were a Satanic ritual, a sex game gone wrong and a disagreement over chores. Knox and Sollicito were both convicted in the murder in 2009. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, while Sollicito received a sentence of 25 years. Prosecutors recommended nine months of solitary confinement for Knox. Their convictions were vacated in October 2011.
Her first interview is a major coup for ABC News, which beat out NBC News and CBS News - which offered Knox time on its newsmagazine 60 Minutes. U.S. TV news organizations swarmed the small Italian town of Perugia where Knox was held at Capanne Prison from 2007-2011. NBC's Matt Lauer was there. So was ABC's Elizabeth Vargas, both of whom had covered the case for their respective news divisions.
Knox's case became something of a cause célèbre for the U.S. media; where she was portrayed as an innocent caught in a Kafka-esque nightmare. Public opinion tilted overwhelmingly in her favor with most believing that she was railroaded by a haphazard and ill-intentioned Italian justice system. Unlike Casey Anthony - another young American woman who spent years in prison for murder - Knox does not come with the same baggage for TV news organizations. Anthony unsuccessfully attempted to sell her story, but her pariah status has made it impossible for news organizations to go anywhere near her or risk angering millions of viewers who still believe Anthony killer her two-year-old daughter Caylee Anthony.
That Knox has said little since her release has made her even more sought after. Washington, D.C.-based attorney and agent Robert Barnett negotiated Knox's book deal with HarperCollins for a reported $4 million advance. And representatives for Knox said it was always her intention to wait to do an interview timed to her book. An ABC News spokesperson confirmed that the news organization did not license photos or home video from Knox or her family; a formerly common practice that was disavowed when it was revealed that news organizations funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Anthony during her incarceration.
And Sawyer is known to be a skilled booker, while Vargas had maintained a close relationship with the Knox family through five years of reporting the story. The Knox interview is among the biggest TV news bookings since Jaycee Dugard; another interview secured by Sawyer and done in conjunction with a book release. Sawyer's interview with Dugard - who was kidnapped as a child, sexually assaulted and held by her kidnappers for nearly 20 years - was watched by more than 15 million viewers when it aired in July 2011.