'Larry King' wins Hilton sweepstakes


NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The saga surrounding which network would get Paris Hilton's first post-jail sit-down took yet another turn during the weekend when CNN said that the heiress would appear on "Larry King Live."

King is scheduled to interview Hilton for the show's entire hour Wednesday, June 27.

The announcement capped days of jockeying by broadcast and cable networks for the chance to sit down with Hilton, whose incarceration had been the subject of tabloid and cable coverage that occasionally spilled over into network news. Competition for the interview took a bizarre turn late last week when ABC News was thrown off the chase after it heard that NBC was willing to pay Hilton $1 million for the interview on "Today." NBC News and Hilton's family denied the bid.

Hilton's family and Hilton herself tried to get Barbara Walters for the interview, but ABC News rebuffed them. With NBC out of the picture, King snagged the interview. CNN said during the weekend that there will be no ground rules for the interview and that the channel will not pay Hilton.

Walters and her producer, David Sloan, made the decision Friday after a back-and-forth with the Hilton family that heated up Thursday night and stretched into the early-morning hours Friday. It followed Thursday's rumor that NBC had offered the Hilton camp $1 million for an exclusive interview with Meredith Vieira for "Today" and "Dateline NBC." NBC denied that it was even in the market for an interview.

Hilton's mother, Kathy, reached out to Walters on Thursday night, and Walters received a phone call at 2 a.m. Eastern time Friday from Paris Hilton, who was calling from jail to say that she only wanted to do the interview with ABC. Sources familiar with the situation said that the heiress apologized to Walters for the situation.

Walters also received a message from Paris Hilton's father, Rick, on Friday asking whether ABC wanted the exclusive. Sloan and Walters made the decision that they weren't going to do an interview, and they informed Rick Hilton at about 2:30 p.m. EDT, sources said.

Before the NBC bombshell, it looked as though Walters would be the front-runner to interview the jailed Hilton. Kathy Hilton and Walters are friends, and Paris Hilton had called Walters from a jail pay phone two weeks ago to talk about her incarceration.

But that all went out the door Wednesday when ABC received word that it potentially had been outbid by NBC, though NBC News denied Thursday that it had made a bid and that it would ever pay for news. ABC News would have been willing to offer $50,000-$100,000 for licensing fees but was shocked to learn that the going rate was said to be 10 times the upper end of that figure. No ABC bid was made.

The Hilton family released a statement Thursday saying that it would not accept money for Paris Hilton interviews, then reached out to ABC and Walters again.