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  #1  
Old 06-16-2005, 10:04 AM
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Runaway bride' stands to cash in on her cold feet

ajc.com > nation/world

Wilbanks, publisher say 'I do'
'Runaway bride' stands to cash in on her cold feet

By RODNEY HO
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/16/05

"Runaway bride" Jennifer Wilbanks may have said little when she appeared in a Gwinnett County courtroom and pleaded no contest to committing a crime, but now she's decided she's got a story to tell. Or one to sell.

ReganMedia, a New York-based multimedia company, confirmed Wednesday that it had "acquired all media rights to the life stories" of the 32-year-old Duluth woman and her fiancé, John Mason. The company's news release did not disclose whether any money changed hands in the process.

'Today' show host Katie Couric snagged the first interview with Jennifer Wilbanks and her fiancé, John Mason. Wilbanks has retained the services of a celebrity publisher.

But ReganMedia, led by President Judith Regan, did confirm that it was pitching a movie concept to networks.

"I am looking forward to developing the scripted project with Wilbanks and Mason," Regan said in a statement. "Theirs is an unexpected and compelling story of love and

forgiveness that has certainly taught me a thing or two."

Mason declined to comment on the media deal when he was reached this week.

The development upset and annoyed both public officials, who spent money trying to find her, and ordinary people in Gwinnett.

"It's disturbing to me on a personal basis that she's willing to profit from this, but there's nothing I can do about it legally," said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter, who pursued the charges against her. "There was no condition of probation that could have prevented it."

'A shame' to reap profit

Duluth Mayor Shirley Fanning Lasseter, whose city shelled out nearly $43,000 to search for her, was tight-lipped, but her sentiment seemed clear.

"You want something printable?" she asked a reporter. "I think it's a shame that anybody could profit from this."

Wilbanks repaid Duluth $13,249 of what it cost to search for her. And she's pledged to pay the Gwinnett Sheriff's Department $2,550 for overtime.

Duluth's Wilbanks took a bus out west instead of getting married in April. Her absence triggered a nationwide search and news coverage. She resurfaced in Albuquerque, N.M., and first said she was kidnapped, but then revealed the truth: She just left.

Earlier this month, Wilbanks pleaded no contest to a felony count of making a false statement to police and received probation and community service.

Though NBC's news division has scored the first interview with Wilbanks, which is scheduled to air Tuesday as a "Dateline NBC" special with Katie Couric, the entertainment division did not bite on a possible TV movie.

"I believe that we were pitched, and passed," said Rebecca Marks, executive vice president for NBC television publicity.

"Today" show host Couric interviewed Wilbanks in Georgia on Sunday and the network has been airing promos for the interview at least since Monday.

Publisher for the stars

NBC news spokeswoman Allison Gollust made it clear that the network did not pay for the interview. "This interview was booked the way all our big interviews are booked: hard work and persistence," she said.

Regan, described last week in Newsweek magazine as a lightning rod in book publishing circles, is expanding into TV and film. As the book publisher for various celebrities, Regan has set up exclusive first interviews for baseball player Jose Canseco with CBS's "60 Minutes," porn star Jenna Jameson with VH1 and Scott Peterson ex-mistress Amber Frey with NBC's "Dateline."

In a widely circulated memo, ReganMedia appears to pitch a TV movie rights deal for $500,000 — but it's unclear from the memo's wording whom the pitch was to, or who would benefit. Such a payment, it said, was contingent upon "the completion of the first interview with both Jennifer Wilbanks and fiancé, John Mason."

$500,000 memo

Paul Crichton, a ReganMedia spokesman, said he has seen the memo from multiple sources but made it clear that "a deal memo is not an agreement or contract." He would not reveal how much money Wilbanks and Mason received and said Regan herself did not leak the memo.

Doug Grad, a senior editor at ReganMedia, acknowledged that he wrote the memo, but would say only, "It's not signed," and wouldn't comment further.

But Diane Berdis had plenty to say.

Wilbanks "should send me six grand for my trouble," said Berdis, owner of Share the Spirit Quilting & Yarn, a quilt store facing Duluth's Town Green. "It cost me five days, and I am not a happy camper."

Berdis said she lost five days of business as the search for Wilbanks intensified.

The town filled with cops and reporters and searchers, making parking nearly impossible, Berdis said. Would-be quilters stayed away from the shop until April 30, when the would-be bride surfaced in Albuquerque, N.M., with a concocted tale that she'd been abducted by a Hispanic man and a white woman.

Customers returned to the shop, Berdis said, but the damage was done.

Staff writers Tasgola Karla Bruner, Mark Davis, John Ghirardini, Steve Murray and Jill Vejnoska contributed to this article.

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Old 06-16-2005, 10:52 AM
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I agree but, as you are well aware, conspiracy is really hard to prove.

I wouldn't have the slightest interest in reading a book or watching a movie about this case. Unfortunately though, there are a bunch of people who have nothing better to do.

I would think that the town would have a better chance of letting her sell the story and then suing for complete compensation for the search costs.
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Old 06-16-2005, 11:04 AM
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gross.
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Old 06-16-2005, 11:19 AM
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Brilliant. Why didn't my wife and I think off this? We could have had our whole wedding paid for and maybe even had one just as lavish!
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Old 06-16-2005, 11:54 AM
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If that guy is stupid enough to marry that head case...he should be barred from ever being allowed to divorce her in the future.
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Old 06-16-2005, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boneheaddoctor
If that guy is stupid enough to marry that head case...he should be barred from ever being allowed to divorce her in the future.

wow. and you're ok with those two having offspring?
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  #7  
Old 06-16-2005, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by mzsmbs
wow. and you're ok with those two having offspring?
With two people that dumb I doubt they would survive their first week before they took off and let them starve to death.

Besides the ACLU would sue to allow them the right to pollute the human gene pool.
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Old 06-16-2005, 11:02 PM
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Has she been to trial yet? I thought there was a law prohibiting someone from profiting from the commision of a fellony.
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  #9  
Old 06-17-2005, 12:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkamiya
I thought she got off easy by admitting guilt and basically she is sorry for all the trouble she caused.... and asked for forgiveness and understanding...

then turn around and sell the story?

It may not be illegal, but it's shameful and imoral. Too bad we can't go back and prosecute her to the fullest.
Hard to believe this poor girl would do something shameful and immoral, huh?

How long before we see her T&A in Playboy?
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Old 06-17-2005, 04:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wes Bender
I agree but, as you are well aware, conspiracy is really hard to prove.

I wouldn't have the slightest interest in reading a book or watching a movie about this case. Unfortunately though, there are a bunch of people who have nothing better to do.

I would think that the town would have a better chance of letting her sell the story and then suing for complete compensation for the search costs.
When you look at the number of kids that have probably been put through college off of the income from the Nat. Enquirer and The Globe, I guess it's no surprise that the story will find an audience....

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Old 06-17-2005, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Has she been to trial yet? I thought there was a law prohibiting someone from profiting from the commision of a fellony
bonehead - they had an article in the paper this morning discussing this exact thing. Seems that there is no such law like this in the state of Ga. I think they called it the Brady Bill or something such as that. And yes - she has been to court and the fine came to around $13k and around $2500 restitution. In discussing it with the wife I said heck - she should be able to just send them a check for this amount and the wife mentioned that she doubted the gal has it.

If I were the fiance I would be doing the running right now - to get as far away from that nut case as possible. If she is as looney as she seems now (at 32) then wait till she gets to 50.
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  #12  
Old 06-17-2005, 10:42 AM
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"Brady Bill".... close.

It's the "Son of Sam" law.

An interesting confusion, for sure
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  #13  
Old 06-17-2005, 11:17 AM
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I know it kept John Wayne Gacy from making a dime off his "art".....
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Old 06-17-2005, 11:23 AM
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Good for them, now they can buy a Doublewide with a shower stall.

they can also dump that ole' black and white Magnavox and get a colored set.

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