NEW YORK—In the wrangling for Paris Hilton’s first post-prison interview, all parties are in damage-control mode.
Stung by accusations that she jilted ABC’s Barbara Walters for a near $1 million from NBC, Hilton backtracked Friday morning by calling Walters personally at 2am to agree to an interview.
Hilton’s mother, Kathy Hilton, also called Walters in what appears to be an attempt to diffuse criticism that the family was set to profit from Paris Hilton’s prison term.
But after considering Hilton’s request with producer “20/20” producer David Sloan, ABC decided to pass on Paris altogether.
The latest twist came a day after reports that Paris’ father Rick Hilton rejected an offer from ABC News to compensate the family $100,000 for the use of family photos and videos, in favor of a richer offer from NBC, said to be in the $750,000 to $1 million range.
The Hilton family had also demanded that Walters submit questions beforehand, a violation of ABC News policy.
NBC News spokeswoman Allison Gollust said that the news division “has not and will not pay for interviews,” but that wouldn’t stop the network entertainment division from doing a deal with Hilton.
Sources confirmed that NBC had conducted talks with the Hiltons about a deal for their participation in a primetime special that would have included an interview with “Today” co-anchor Meredith Vieira.
But the notion that Hilton would attempt to profit from her jail sentence, a result of a DUI arrest, triggered a day of unflattering coverage on cable news and syndicated entertainment shows.
On Thursday the Hilton family released a statement through crisis management expert Michael Sitrick stating the Hilton would receive no financial compensation for her interview or for “collateral material,” including personal photos or videos.
It was unclear Friday if NBC is continuing to pursue a business deal with the Hiltons or of the Hilton interview would end up on NBC’s “Today” or any other NBC News program.