Monica roadshow rolls into Britain

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The Independent Online
SHE GOT through the last months of the scandal that bore her name by knitting scarves for her friends. She wants to apologise to the American people. She knows how Ken Starr found out about the cigar. She thinks that Mr Clinton is deeply regretful too - he regrets that he got caught.

So reveals Monica Lewinsky, the young woman who showed a thong and almost brought down a presidency, in an interview with ABC TV's Barbara Walters, to be broadcast in the US on Wednesday. The programme will run for two hours and ABC expects massive ratings - advertisers will have to pay $800,000 for 30-second slots, five times the normal rate.

The Walters face-to-face, however, will be just the beginning of a marketing- of- Monica blitz that will span the globe. With nerve-centres in New York and London, it will encompass a second television interview with Channel 4's Jon Snow, a book, Monica's Story, written by Andrew Morton, the biographer of the late Diana, Princess of Wales - also to be published in both cities this week, assorted print interviews, as well as myriad international deals for broadcast and book serialisation rights.

By the end of this week, the ex-intern who first breached the sanctum of the Oval Office over three years ago, will be inside living-rooms from Germany to Argentina, Israel to Japan. With all of us - or all of us who can still summon the interest - Monica will share the emotional journey she took when she fell in love with the leader of the free world and later fell into the cross-hairs of special prosecutor Starr.

How many truly care is another question. Judging by ABC's advertising rates - only slightly less than those charged during the Oscar show - and the $600,000 (pounds 400,000) paid by Channel 4 to Ms Lewinsky for its interview, there are enough people who believe the public's appetite for all Monica, all of the time, is still not dented.

In the US, however, there are grounds to be sceptical. A poll in this weekend's New York Post suggested that only 7 per cent of Americans would buy the book, or are remotely interested. Perhaps for that reason, Monica's promotional role in the US will be fairly limited. According to Lynn Goldberg, her literary agent, in the US "our strategy is distance and dignity". One more sit-down interview has been scheduled for Time magazine. Otherwise the traditional book tour and signing schedule for Monica's Story, to be released by St Martin's Press on Thurdsay, will be left to Mr Morton.

In Europe - and in Britain, especially - it will be a different story. Britain will see more of Monica in March than any other country on the globe. Plans have been laid for a tour later this month of about 12cities. She will visit bookshops, television stations and radio studios. The Mirror has bought the rights to the book - to be published in London on Friday by Michael O'Mara Books. The Daily Telegraph is banking on an interview. Marie Claire magazine already has exclusive Monica photographs.

Abroad, those that have paid for serialisation rights on the book include Paris Match, New Age in Australia, Corriera della Sera in Italy and the Bild newspaper in Germany. Channel 4 has sold rights to show the Jon Snow interview to 25 countries so far. Reportedly some 75 per cent of money earned through such foreign deals will be paid by Channel 4 to Ms Lewinsky.