There’s only one go-to guy for politicians writing a book: Washington’s Bob Barnett. The Williams & Connolly lawyer has racked up a roster of A-list clients including Presidents Obama, Clinton and Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Sarah Palin, Tony Blair, Katharine Graham and many, many more.
Now he’s representing a different kind of headline-grabber: Amanda Knox, the college student recently released by Italian courts in the sensational murder case of her British roommate. Barnett will guide Knox — who hasn’t granted a single interview since her return to Seattle in October — through the inevitable bidding war for a book about her ordeal and other projects.
“He has a very strong resume,” said Knox family spokesman Dave Marriott, who announced the deal Monday.
Knox, 24, spent four years in Italian jail for the murder of roommate Meredith Kercher. Publishers first approached her family near the end of the first trial in 2009, but the exchange student was convicted and everything was set aside during the appeal process. A jury overturned the verdict two months ago and Knox returned to the United States. She was immediately inundated with offers and began the process of picking someone to represent her for book and other deals.
Why Barnett? His name “popped up in conversations with many people,” Marriott told us. Though he doesn’t call himself a literary agent, Barnett knows his way around seven-figure deals (he’s also repped James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, Rosie O’Donnell and Barbra Streisand) — and the Knox family liked the fact that he’s a lawyer with a powerful firm behind him. Another plus: He’s arguably a bargain, charging a hefty hourly fee instead of the standard 15 percent commission. He was hired after flying to Seattle and meeting with the Knox family.
“The thing about Bob is not only does he know how to negotiate on behalf of his clients, but he’s very well-connected in the media world and can help create the perfect launch for the book,” said Carolyn Reidy, president of Simon & Schuster, who’s worked with Barnett for decades.
There are already several published books about the trial, plus an unauthorized Lifetime movie, but Marriott, naturally, says the “only definitive” version will be penned by Knox. No deal to date: “Lots of interest, lots of offers but nothing pending,” he said. “Bob’s input is going to be critical.”
Barnett declined to comment.
Read earlier: Washington lawyer Bob Barnett is the force behind many political book deals, 3/7/10