Television

ABC News lands exclusive Martha Stewart interview

LOS ANGLES: Domestic diva Martha Stewart has described her fears in an exclusive interview with ABCNews' Barbara Walters. The wide-ranging interview addresses the controversy around Stewart as she prepares to go to trial and will air on ABCNews' 20/20 in early November.



Martha Stewart talks with ABCNews' Barbara Walters (Pic courtesy: www.abcnews.go.com)In her only interview since being indicted for her sale of ImClone stock, and before going to trial in January 2004, Stewart tells Walters, "Who wouldn't be scared? Of course I'm scared. The last place I would ever want to go is prison. And I don't think I will be going to prison, though." However ABC News did not make a transcript of Walters' interview but released only one quote from her remarks.

Stewart and broker Peter Bacanovic were charged in a nine-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury. The Securities and Exchange Commission also filed a civil securities fraud lawsuit against the pair, accusing them of illegal insider trading.

The lifestyles maven had been under investigation for selling almost 4,000 shares of ImClone in December 2001, shortly before the Food and Drug Administration rejected the company's application for approval of a colon cancer drug. The FDA rejection sent ImClone's stock plummeting.

Criminal charges against Stewart include making false statements, and obstruction of justice. Charges against Bacanovic include perjury and obstruction, according to a statement from the US attorney's office in Manhattan. Stewart has not been charged with perjury.

Martha Stewart and her former stockbroker pleaded not guilty on 4 June 2003, to the charges stemming from her sale of the stock. Stewart stepped down as CEO of her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., which publishes her magazine and a line of home products for the Kmart retail chain, in June, but remains on the board.

The Stewart segment is touted as the first broadcast TV interview she has granted since her June indictment on obstruction of justice charges and the only one she plans to give before she goes on trial in January. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Stewart is a close friend of former ImClone chief executive Sam Waksal, who was sentenced in June to 87 months in prison for tax evasion and his role in the insider trading case.

Last month, ABC scored another journalistic coup by landing the first prime-time network interview with Jessica Lynch, the former Army private who was taken prisoner, badly wounded and later rescued during the US war in Iraq. That interview, with Diane Sawyer, is slated to air on 11 November.

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