Negotiations over the rights to Monica Lewinsky's account of her relationship with President Clinton took an unusual turn Tuesday when Oprah Winfrey announced on her television show that she would not pursue an interview with Lewinsky.
"I no longer want the interview," the talk show host said in her statement. "I was told that I did have it and then the conversation moved in a direction that I did not want to go. I do not pay for interviews, no matter what the payment is called."Winfrey, elaborating in an interview to be published in TV Guide, said Lewinsky's representatives had promised her the first interview but then had phoned back to demand the "international rights" to the tape, which they could then sell.
Judy Smith, Lewinsky's representative, said neither she nor Lewinsky would comment on Winfrey's statements.
The report that Winfrey had been considered a sure bet to conduct the first television interview with Lewinsky was one of the more believable ones generated by the Lewinsky rumor mill, which has churned out some wildly inflated stories in the past few weeks.
Among them are rumors that Lewinsky has a $16 million contract with a pay-per-view company to tell her story and that she has a modeling deal with a Parisian fashion designer.
Barbara Walters of ABC News has also been pursuing an interview with Lewinsky, say people at ABC News who insisted on anonymity.
Lewinsky's representatives have tried to play one suitor against another, one person who has negotiated with them said Tuesday, adding, "The greed has backfired. Her 15 minutes is fading fast."