Casey Anthony seeking $1.5 million for interview, but will networks bite?

Dylan Stableford
The Cutline

Just 11 days ago, Casey Anthony walked out of a Florida jail and made a carefully orchestrated escape from the media mob that had followed her throughout her daughter's murder case.

Now Anthony wants the attention back. According to several media reports, including one from Nancy Grace, Anthony and her team of lawyers are seeking at least $1.5 million from television networks interested in landing her first post-penitentiary interview.

Networks deny that there's any bidding war afoot for an Anthony interview--though as The Cutline has noted, it's common for networks to sidestep charges of checkbook journalism by paying big licensing fees for permission to use photo or video footage from an interview subject, as ABC did in a six-figure deal for home movies from Jaycee Dugard, who had been held for 18 years as a sexual captive in California. This time out, however, ABC probably wouldn't be among Anthony's pursuers in the event of a media bidding war, since the network recently announced it was retiring the policy of padding licensing-rights deals for interviewees.

"We can book just about anyone based on the strength of our journalism, the excellence of our anchors, correspondents, and producers, and the size of our audience," ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider told Howard Kurtz earlier this week. "These licensing deals had become a crutch, and an unnecessary one."

Before the change of heart, ABC had long defended what critics call "checkbook journalism." In 2008, the network paid Anthony $200,000 for the rights to photos and videos of her daughter Caylee. And, as The Atlantic Wire noted, ABC initially denied it had paid for rights to the first interview with Dugard, only to have an executive admit to the New York Times that they actually paid "six figures."

It's unclear if ABC's rivals at NBC or CBS will bite. Reps for those networks did not immediately respond to requests for comments from The Cutline.

According to Kurtz, ABC executives left the door open to roll back the new no-pay-to-play policy, but only in "an extraordinary circumstance."

Does the case of Casey Anthony qualify?

Intense public interest would seem to indicate that it does. Judge Belvin Perry said that due to "the extraordinary circumstances" surrounding the trial, he had the right to delay the names of the jurors becoming public, even though Florida law requires their names to be released.

On Tuesday, Perry ruled that the names of the jurors will not be released "until sufficient time has passed to allow those enraged by the verdict and who might instinctively react with violence to compose and restrain themselves."

He also ripped the media for creating a circus-like atmosphere around the trial.

"It was reported that television ratings for the trial were extraordinary," Perry wrote. "Clearly, the broadcast of an official and serious court proceeding such as this trial where a young girl was dead and her mother faced the death penalty devolved into cheap, soap-opera-like entertainment."

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