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A TMZ report that Casey Anthony attorney Jose Baez was at Manhattan’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel “holding court” with bookers from ABC, CBS and NBC for a cash interview with Anthony was met with strenuous denials from all three news divisions.
“The report is untrue,” said an ABC News source. “If there is a bidding war ABC News is not and will not be part of it.”
“CBS News is not offering and will not offer to license any materials from Casey Anthony,” a CBS News spokesperson said. A network executive was more vehement: “Not a damn nickel.”
Network sources confirm that their bookers have met with Baez, but they flatly deny that they have offered any remuneration for an interview. Baez – who had several odd jobs, including bikini salesman, before being catapulted to fame as the attorney who won an acquittal for Anthony in the capital murder of her two-year-old daughter Caylee – is shopping his services as a legal commentator. (Hollywood agency Paradigm agreed to represent him in those endeavors but quickly backed out.)
“We’ve talked with Baez about getting an interview with Casey Anthony, but only under NBC News standards and conditions: no payment, and absolutely no job offers for members of her defense team,” said an NBC News spokesperson.
As for whether NBC picked up the tab for Baez’s stay at the Mandarin, sources says the network paid for one night in order to meet with Baez, which is not unusual expense to incur in the pursuit of interviews.
The practice of licensing photos and videos from interview subjects has long been a fig leaf for TV news divisions. But Anthony may have finally put the practice on deep freeze, at least temporarily.
ABC News was revealed to have paid Anthony the mind-boggling sum of $200,000 in 2008 for photos and home videos as well as $15,000 to the Florida meter reader who discovered Caylee’s remains. In 2010, CBS News paid $20,000 to the Anthony family for material that was used on 48 Hours Mystery and the Early Show. The stench of those transactions has made it impossible for news organizations to hide behind licensing deals. But Anthony’s pariah status and the risk of a swift and loud public backlash for the network that gives her air time have made booking her for even non-paid interview highly problematic.
One network booker described the situation as “toxic.”
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