Morton to tell 'Monica's Story' in six-figure deal

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The Independent Online
ANDREW MORTON, who wrote the official biography of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, has found another subject: Monica Lewinsky.

Mr Morton has won the contract to tell her side of the story that threatened to topple President Bill Clinton. The deal, with the rights to TV interviews, will make Ms Lewinsky a millionaire.

A former White House intern, Ms Lewinsky rose to notoriety when it was revealed that she had a long-running sexual relationship with the President. Their behaviour became the centre-piece of efforts to impeach Mr Clinton, based on his efforts to conceal the relationship. From her testimony, Ms Lewinsky was deeply hurt when the relationship was broken off, and the book and the interviews are likely to be emotion-laden rather than steamy.

The projected title, Monica's Story by Andrew Morton, shows that Mr Morton is almost as saleable as his subject. Mr Morton, a journalist, rose to fame when he became Prin-cess Diana's official biographer. He received tapes secretly from the princess telling her side of her marriage to Charles and its breakdown, and his Diana: Her True Story was a bestseller in 1992. After her death, he became more open about the source of his information and the book was republished as Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words.

Both Ms Lewinsky and the late princess turned to Mr Morton because they believed he would put their side of the story at a time when enemies had other tales to tell. Today, the tapes of conversations recorded by her "friend" Linda Tripp will be released, giving another insight into her personality.

Ms Lewinsky had some difficulty in selling her story at first, as the release of testimony by the investigator, Kenneth Starr, meant that much of the tale was already told at enormous length in the US newspapers. Some publishers also reportedly shied away from the deal because of its subject matter. After months of wall-to-wall coverage, it remains to be seen whether there is anything new that can be added to the saga.

In the US, Ms Lewinsky will be interviewed by Barbara Walters, the television anchor, for ABC. The Independent reported last week that Ms Lewinsky had also struck a deal with Channel 4 for the world rights to an interview.

The interviews will be broadcast in February to coincide with the release of the book, to be published by the British publisher Michael O'Meara and St Martin's Press in the US.

Ms Lewinsky may well cause the President some embarrassment. But the timing of the book release indicates that by February the impeachment hearings in Congress will be over and the President's fate will have been decided.