Originally created 02/28/04

British interviewer may be headed to American television



NEW YORK -- British celebrity interviewer Martin Bashir, whose talk with Michael Jackson was seen by 27 million people on ABC a year ago, is negotiating to come to American television.

ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider would not comment Thursday on a report in a British newspaper that Bashir had agreed to move to ABC when his contract with Granada Television expires in July. But Schneider called Bashir a talented journalist who "would be a great addition to any news organization."

Bashir's regular "Tonight" program is one of British ITV's top-rated programs.

He was talking with several broadcasters for a shift to the United States, said an American news executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Bashir's interview so angered Jackson that the pop star sold outtakes of their discussion to Fox, which ran a special billed as "the interview they wouldn't show you."

Two other high-profile Bashir programs, an interview with the late Princess Diana and an investigation of a scandal on the British version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," were also shown on ABC.

With Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer, ABC has been the most aggressive of American news networks in seeking celebrity interviews. But Walters announced last month that she would step down in September from "20/20," the weekly newsmagazine she has anchored for 25 years.