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Friday, April 29, 2005 - Page updated at 04:01 p.m

"Entertainment Tonight" snares rights to wedding of Letourneau, Fualaau

The Associated Press

Mary K. Letourneau

The TV show "Entertainment Tonight" has snared exclusive rights to the planned May wedding of Mary Kay Letourneau and her former sixth-grade pupil Vili Fualaau, the father of her two youngest children.

ET and its sister show, "The Insider," planned to begin offering the first in a series of interviews with the couple today.

The shows will offer more interview footage tomorrow and all of next week. In the weeks between May 6 and the wedding, they'll air additional excerpts from their chats with the notorious couple.

The date and location of the wedding have not yet been disclosed.

Letourneau, now 43, served 71/2 years in prison after she was convicted of raping Fualaau, now 22. She was released last August.

The couple first met when he was in the second grade. Their relationship became sexual when he was 12 and she was a 34-year-old married mother of four, a teacher at Burien's Shorewood Elementary School.

"Mary Kay and Vili trusted ET and The Insider to tell their story," said executive producer Linda Bell Blue. She added that the two shows "have never paid for any interview."

Video footage of three days including the wedding has been licensed by the shows from New York-based World Picture News, which has served as middleman agency for celebrity weddings including that of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

An Associated Press call for comment to World Picture News after business hours yesterday was not immediately returned.

"Entertainment Tonight" is produced by Paramount Domestic Television. Paramount spokesman Manfred Westphal declined to disclose the cost of the wedding footage, but said a reported sum of $500,000 was "ridiculous."

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"ET over the past 24 years has established itself as the place where celebrities go to set the record straight," he said.

The couple's two little girls — 7-year-old Audrey and 6-year-old Alexis — will be flower girls, Fualaau told the ET interviewers. Letourneau noted that they're "perfect flower-girl age."

"We're excited to have as many family members involved as possible," she said, suggesting "special roles" for her two sons and two daughters from her previous marriage.

Fualaau said he proposed to Letourneau "seven or eight years ago."

"There are many tragic things that happen in everyone's life, but those hard times pass. We're together and we're hopeful," a news release from the shows quoted her as saying.

"She's the same person I fell in love with a long time ago," Fualaau said. "I'm surprised that she's here and alive. I'm just really proud of her."

King County had no record of a marriage license for them or an application for one. Under state law, the license must be acquired at least three days before the wedding.

Letourneau was pregnant with Fualaau's first child when she was arrested in 1997. She pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree child rape and was sentenced to 71/2 years in prison, with all but six months suspended.

Within weeks of her release, she was caught having sex with Fualaau in her car and ordered to serve the remainder of her sentence. She gave birth to the couple's second daughter while serving time.

Letourneau's father was John G. Schmitz, an ultraconservative California congressman and state legislator whose political career ended in scandal in 1982, when the family-values promoter was revealed to have a pregnant mistress and 15-month-old son. He died in 2001.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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