Murdoch courts Lewinsky

David Usborne
Friday 09 October 1998 00:02 BST

MONICA LEWINSKY, who has been in hiding since the release of the Starr Report into her affair with President Bill Clinton, is in talks with Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation for a possible tell-all interview and book deal to tell her side of the story to the public.

The former White House worker has reportedly been offered $3m (pounds 1.7m) for an interview for Mr Murdoch's Fox Television network in the United States. As part of the package, she would also contribute to a book about her trysts in the Oval Office for HarperCollins, Mr Murdoch's publishing house.

A spokesman for Fox refused last night to comment on the reports, which surfaced first in the entertainment trade paper, Daily Variety. But sources inside Fox confirmed to The Independent that "discussions are going on with Lewinsky's people". Crucially, Mr Murdoch is understood also to be holding out for all foreign rights for the international distribution Ms Lewinsky's story. This would enable him to showcase the interview, expected to be at least an hour in length, on his television outlets worldwide, presumably including BSkyB in Britain. The foreign rights to the Lewinsky story would also enable Mr Murdoch to offer exerpts from a future book to his print publications around the globe. This could spell serialisations of the Monica-Bill affair, complete with all the intimate details, appearing in Murdoch titles such as The Sun or The Times. It was not clear, however, how far the negotiations have progressed. Mr Murdoch is almost certain to be facing fierce competition from other media organisations. His unusually deep pockets, as well his worldwide reach, may give him an edge over rivals, however.

Rumours of possible book and interview deals with Ms Lewinsky for multimillion- dollar sums have been swirling for months but, until now, have never seemed close to fruition.

Oprah Winfrey, the TV talk-show host, tried to lure her onto her programme, but broke off talks when questions of money arose. Last week, the American comedian Roseanne Barr, said she would give Ms Lewinsky $1m to appear on a talk show that she has just launched.

The discussions with Ms Lewinsky are being led for Mr Murdoch by David Hill, the chairman and chief executive of Fox Broadcasting, based in Los Angeles. Insiders said the talks with Ms Lewinsky, have been going on for some time.

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