The ink was still drying on Casey Anthony's acquittal in the first-degree murder of her daughter when dozens of links to protest groups and petitions began circulating online. Large numbers of people are urging the public to boycott all book or movie deals for Anthony and to ignore all media appearances she might make. Many of the groups seemingly have a large amount of support -– especially on social media websites -- but will they have any impact? "No," said Michael Sands, a Hollywood image consultant with whom The Huffington Post spoke.
"The people who hate this woman are the same people that made her a star," said Sands, founder of Sands Digital Media. "Everyone who tuned into the case made Casey Anthony a superstar larger than life and when [they] can't get to her, they want her more."
"As far as the people boycotting, that is nothing more than a hanging mob that wants blood. This was a murder trial, and a jury found Anthony not guilty. You can't control the networks and the media," Sands said.
Two weeks ago, a jury of seven women and five men found Anthony not guilty of killing her daughter, Caylee. The case against her was mostly circumstantial. Prosecutors alleged that her motive was to allow her to live a carefree life without her daughter. The defense contended that 2-year-old Caylee accidentally drowned in a swimming pool.
Anthony's trial was broadcast live on several cable news channels. On the day of the verdict, HLN drew the biggest audience in its 29-year-old history –- surpassing their coverage of the September 11 terrorist attacks –- with 5 million viewers. That same day, other news stations, including MSNBC and Fox News, also saw huge spikes in their viewerships, with their average numbers tripling, according to Nielsen.
On Sunday, Anthony walked out of the Orange County Jail in Florida a free woman after serving nearly three years behind bars awaiting trial. She was found guilty of four counts of lying to police officers about the disappearance of her child, and was sentenced to four years in jail. She was released on the basis of time served and good behavior while in custody. There is speculation that she has since left the state of Florida, but her current whereabouts are unknown.
Anthony, 25, stands to make a fortune from film and book rights, and the offers are already pouring in – chief among them is one from an independent TV production company that offered her $1 million for an interview. We do not yet know whether Anthony has accepted the deal, but, if she has, droves of people will tune in to hear what she has to say, Sands said.
"The worse things you do, the more the public wants you. We are in a reality where people want to hear from very troubled people more than they do people that are very talented," he said.
If Anthony does sell her story it won't be the first time infamy has been converted to fortune.
Mike Tyson, the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, was arrested in July 1991 for the rape of an 18-year-old woman from Rhode Island. The following year, Tyson was convicted of rape and sentenced to six years in prison. Following his early release in 1995, Tyson earned an estimated $25 million from his first comeback fight.
Amy Fisher, aka "the Long Island Lolita," was arrested in 1992, after she shot and severely wounded Mary Jo Buttafuoco, the wife of her lover, Joey Buttafuoco. Fisher pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated assault and was paroled in 1999. Following her release, Fisher worked as a journalist for the Long Island Press, wrote a book "If I Knew Then," worked in the adult film industry and appeared as cast member in the fifth season of the reality television series "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew."
And OJ Simpson was reportedly paid a $1.1 million publishing advance for "If I Did It," a hypothetical first-person account of how the former football star could have carried out the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. Simpson was acquitted of the murders in 1995.
According to Sands, Anthony can do the same.
"She is a celebrity now," he said. "Good or bad, she is a celebrity and a superstar of the public's own making... This would have been a regular trial where a mother was accused of killing her daughter. That is the reality, but once Nancy Grace stepped in it was the biggest case going since apple pie and everyone was convinced [Casey] did it."
On the day the verdict was announced, Grace, host of CNN's "Nancy Grace," attracted the largest audience ever in the 6-year history of her show. According to Nielsen, nearly 3 million viewers tuned in to watch as the controversial legal pundit announced, "The devil is dancing tonight!"
Casey Anthony has been referred to in several publications as "the most hated woman in the world." It would seem that her image is tattered beyond repair, but, according to Sands, it is still possible for her to resurrect herself and reshape her public image.
"As a media image person, I like to think the bridges are always repairable," Sands told HuffPost. "Her attorneys are trying to handle it now. The most important part of the equation is what Casey can do to start looking good. If she was my client, I wouldn't have her go on TV right away. We would wait for things to cool down, and then tell her story. The public can say what they want, but she has a very viable brand name."
Sands added: "Now, many of the people that made Anthony what she is are asking people to boycott her when it is their fault. They really should be pointing the finger at themselves. That is just the crazy world we live in."
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