ABC's Walters lands Hillary Clinton book interview

RELATED ABC7LA ARTICLE: Read an Alternate Version HERE
RELATED WEBSITES: | "20/20" | Barbara Walters Biography

(NOTE: Each link opens in a new window)

"20/20" host B. Walters gets InterviewLOS ANGELES, May 15 (Reuters) - ABC's Barbara Walters has landed the first extensive television interview with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as she launches a tour to promote her highly anticipated memoir "Living History," the network said on Thursday.

Walters' interview with the New York Democrat, who made history by winning election to the Senate after her husband left office, will air as a one-hour ABC News special on Sunday, June 8, the night before the book is published.

Walters has interviewed the former first lady on several occasions, notably in 1996 around the time that Clinton's last book, "It Takes a Village," was published.

Reports had surfaced in recent days that Walters' ABC colleague Diane Sawyer would get the Clinton interview for "Living History," but one insider said Sawyer removed herself from contention this week because "she has other commitments down the road she wants to concentrate on."

A spokeswoman for Simon and Schuster, Victoria Meyer, said the publishers ultimately gravitated to Walters based on their satisfaction with her 1996 interview and success of that book.

Meyer added that no ground rules were demanded for Clinton's appearance. "The book is pretty comprehensive, and I'm sure the interview will cover much of what the book addresses," she said.

Contents of the senator's book, offering the ultimate insider's account of the turbulent Clinton White House, have been the subject of intense speculation while being kept under close wraps by the publisher.

Winning the first Clinton interview before the book goes on sale marks a significant coup for ABC as competition among network news divisions for high-profile "gets" grows hotter.

In the case of CBS, a Hillary Clinton interview tied to her memoir might have raised questions about potential conflicts of interest because the network's parent company, Viacom Inc. also owns Simon and Schuster. Clinton's husband also is a paid commentator on the CBS news magazine "60 Minutes."

Simon and Schuster, which reportedly paid $8 million for rights to Clinton's memoir, is planning a 1-million-copy first printing of the book.

Hillary Clinton has proven a lively interview subject in the past, as in her 1998 appearance on NBC's "Today" show, when she blamed allegations that her husband had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky on a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

ABC is owned by Walt Disney Co.  BACK TO THE TOP