Moments after a Rhode Island jury yesterday acquitted Claus von Bu low of twice attempting to kill his wife Sunny, journalists flocked to the wealthy Danish-born socialite like lawyers to Bhopal.
But to the chagrin of the print journalists and aggressive morning talk show producers, von Bu low is a committed man.
To Barbara Walters, that is.
Von Bu low will give his first postacquittal interview to the First Lady of Relentlessness, to be broadcast on ABC's "20/20," at 10 Thursday night.
That leaves much prime-time exposure between now and then that he's apparently sacrificing.
"He promised to do the first interview and it never occurred to me that he wouldn't keep his word," said Walters, reached in New York yesterday. "I could have interviewed him for 'Good Morning America' tomorrow or the nightly news, but '20/20' is my show. So in a sense, I am competing with my own network."
By all accounts, von Bu low's second interview will be with NBC's "Today" show, Friday at 7:09 a.m.
Walters said she has worked on securing the interview ever since von Bu low was convicted three years ago in his first trial. That conviction was overturned on state constitutional grounds.
Since then, she said, she has called von Bu low often just to keep in touch. She said they only talked on the phone; they never met for lunch or dinner.
"It's not magic," she said. "You stay in touch, you work on it. I don't want to make a big deal about it. You have to be there and persevere, and not have a secretary call. After the first conviction, a lot of people brushed their hands of it. Over the years I kept in contact. I called him. I spoke to Andrea Reynolds. I kept my word and he kept his."
Reynolds, von Bu low's current companion, appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" yesterday as a guest of Walters. She said they talked about the interview at that time.
"She called me right after the verdict to make the final plans," said Walters. She said she assumed von Bu low would have kept his commitment for the interview even if convicted.
Von Bu low will be interviewed alone, Walters said. "I'm reading the (trial) transcript right now and writing out the questions. What would you ask him?"
Walters declined to say where and when the interview would be, but she did say it would not be live. Von Bulow told reporters he would be in New York today.
Walters' last similiar scoop was when auto magnate John DeLorean was acquitted last year of drug dealing. At that time, she was forced to do the interview live because of the timing of the verdict.
She said yesterday that she got that interview the same way. "By just calling," she said. And calling.