What I do have some sense of is how much money Michael Schiavo stands to make if, and only if, his wife dies. It is, for a man, with a fresh new wife and two children, substantial. Having worked as an editor for Houghton Mifflin and as a literary agent, I have some [idea of] the price the publishing and media worlds would put on his story. It will be significantly more than 30 pieces of silver.
The book deal: "HER BODY, MY SELF" by Michael Schiavo can be auctioned to a large group of major publishers within ten days of Terri Schiavo's death. This can be arranged by an canny and shameless agent -- and they are legion -- on the basis of 12 telephone calls, a two-page outline, a ghost writer known to the New York publishing world, and a dog-and-pony show where Michael is flown to New York and trotted around to six to eight editors' offices in a day. The bidding for this book will have a floor of two million dollars. The top offer will be in the range of three to three and a half-million for hardcover and paperback rights. Depending on the agent's feel for the market, translation rights may be added to the mix. Film rights will be held back. After the agent's 15% fee, Michael's take from this will be $2,550,000, less $50,000 paid to the ghost writer.
The film and tv rights for Michael's "story" will probably bring in another 1-3 million dollars depending on a number of factors and will, in this instance, be set in motion before the publication of the book.
Speaking fees: Michael Schiavo's lawyer currently commands $15,000 per speaking engagement, so it is not hard to see that Michael could easily pull down $50,000 per engagement. While you probably won't see him show up at Catholic conventions, he's a natural Keynoter for hundreds of other groups across the country and abroad. In the first year alone he could, given a reasonable calendar, be booked for at least 50 events. His gross fees in the first year would, in that case, come to $2,500,000.
Terri Schiavo is worth six to eight million dollars to Michael Schiavo if, and only if, she's dead. If she continues living nothing happens on the book or movie front because there's no ending. When she dies, it is jackpot time for Michael. (I added some apparently missing words, apologies to Gerard if that was inappropriate but it seems to work better that way)
There's more, check it out. This has always been my beef about the case, more than federalism vs. states rights, left vs. right, or even right vs. wrong. One man is driving this train, and it seems that his actions and motivations are not among the issues being scrutinized by courts or even much of the news media. Maybe they should be; the possibility of profit seems to be ample reason for governments and journalists to investigate people who wish to take unconventional action. Why not now?