Miramax nabs Walters’ book

Imprint shells out seven-figure sum for autobiography

Miramax Books said Wednesday it will publish Barbara Walters’ memoirs in 2007, paying her an advance reportedly worth $4 million-$5 million.

Advance amount would likely be the largest ever for the boutique imprint, besting the reported $2.7 million it advanced former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for a two-book deal.

Miramax Books prexy and publisher Jonathan Burnham declined to give a specific dollar amount, but he said, “It’s a significant seven-figure sum.”

Pub is believed to have paid an advance close to Giuliani’s for NBC News political anchor Tim Russert’s upcoming book, “Big Russ and Me: Father and Son — Lessons of Life.”

News of the Walters advance, which capped a brisk bidding war, set rival publishers abuzz. It’s a risky payout for a nonfiction book, approaching the $7 million-plus Warner Books paid Jack Welch for his memoir and the $8 million Simon & Schuster paid Hillary Clinton.

Increasingly, Miramax is looking to politicians and newsmakers to fill out its catalog. Miramax also published former U.S. secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s recent memoir.

“In a very short time, we’ve become a serious nonfiction publisher,” Burnham said. “We’re able to publish with unparalleled commitment in terms of marketing and promotion.”

Sen. Clinton’s 2003 memoir went on to be a bestseller (Miramax Books bid for Clinton’s project along the way). By contrast, Welch’s book, published on Sept. 11, 2001, performed well below Warner Books’ expectations.

Walters, who will step down from her anchor chair at ABC News’ “20/20” this fall, boasts one of the longest and most successful careers in TV news, and could well have a ready-made aud for her memoirs.

The anchor won’t leave ABC News completely and will continue to produce primetime specials, including her annual Academy Award interview hour. She also will continue to appear on her daytime talker “The View.”

“Barbara paved the way for women in media and television. She’s an extraordinary role model,” said Morton Janklow, Walters’ book agent. “You can’t name a world figure whom she hasn’t interviewed at least once.”

Walters will be the sole author of the book.

Miramax is owned by the Walt Disney Co., which also owns ABC.

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