Rescued miners sell TV, book rights to Disney. The media company pays $1.35 million to the nine men in order to rush a TV movie and book into the pipeline

Hey, rescued Pennsylvania miners! You’ve just spent 77 hours trapped in a flooded mine, where the nine of you subsisted on a single sandwich, before being pulled to safety at last in a miraculous and dramatic rescue. What are you going to do now? We’re going to Disney World!

Well, sort of. According to published reports, Disney has paid each of the nine men $150,000, for a total of $1.35 million, for the rights to tell their stories in books and on TV. According to the New York Daily News, the men received as many as 120 offers for their story. ”I’m not looking for no glory, no fame,” miner John Unger said shortly after the rescue. But Disney got him and the others to change their tune. So there will be an ABC TV movie during the 2002-03 season and a book from Disney’s Hyperion publishing arm. Of course, blanket news coverage of the event means that much of the story is in the public domain, so other networks may try to rush their own movies into production. Asked by Variety whether CBS was planning such a TV movie, a spokesperson declined comment.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the deal also means the miners will make promotional appearances on ”Good Morning America” and other ABC shows. (In fact, ”GMA”’s Diane Sawyer landed the first sit-down interview with one of the miners last week, to the great consternation of Katie Couric at NBC’s ”Today,” who thought she had the interview sewn up.) Meanwhile, the miners and their rescuers are scheduled to meet President Bush today in Pittsburgh. To make sure no one misses the heroic symbolism of the occasion, the meeting will take place in a firehouse.