Friday, October 02, 2009

The one-page screenplay starring David Letterman!

Suspect in Letterman extortion pleads not guilty
Edith Honan, Reuters

Published: Friday, October 02, 2009
Robert "Joe" Halderman, centre, appears at his arraignment for an alleged blackmail plot against television personality David Letterman, at New York Supreme Court on October 2, 2009. (Steve Hirsch/Pool/Getty Images)

NEW YORK -- A television producer accused of trying to extort $2-million from talk show host David Letterman by revealing his sexual affairs pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted grand larceny Friday.

The popular host of "Late Show with David Letterman" on CBS stunned viewers Thursday by admitting he had sex with female subordinates, saying he went to the authorities after receiving a package threatening to reveal the details.

Robert Joel Halderman, a producer for the CBS documentary show "48 Hours," was indicted by a grand jury Thursday and pleaded not guilty in his Manhattan court appearance Friday.

"His actions reflect desperation that is alarming and dangerous," prosecutor Judy Salwen said.

Mr. Halderman, who faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted, was shackled with his hands behind his back during the hearing. The judge set bail at $200,000.

"He denies the allegations," said Gerald Shargel, Mr. Halderman's lawyer. "This story is far more complex than what you heard this afternoon."

Prosecutors say Mr. Halderman appeared at Mr. Letterman's Manhattan home September 9 and left a package in the comedian's car with a one-page screenplay outlining the affairs.

The package also contained a letter saying Mr. Letterman would need to pay "a large chunk of money" or else Mr. Halderman would give him the "screenplay treatment" that would lead to a "ruined reputation," prosecutors said.

Mr. Letterman married Regina Lasko, his longtime companion, in March. The couple have a son born in 2003.
The 62-year-old, who was recently married, said that after consulting his attorney, he arranged to meet the man who said he planned to write a screenplay and a book about "all the terrible stuff" Mr. Letterman did unless he was paid off.

"The creepy stuff was that I have had sex with women who work for me on this show," Mr. Letterman told a stunned audience, which seemed unsure how to react to the story, laughing and applauding at times and exclaiming at others.

"My response to that is, yes I have," Mr. Letterman said. "Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would, especially for the women."

"It's been a very bizarre experience. I feel like I need to protect these people. I need to certainly protect my family. I need to protect myself. I hope to protect my job," he said.

Mr. Letterman said he went to the Manhattan District Attorney's office. "They said, ‘Whoa, hello, this is blackmail," Mr. Letterman said.

An investigation led to an arrest earlier Thursday. As part of the investigation, Mr. Letterman said he handed over a "phony" check for US$2-million to the individual.

Mr. Letterman, who was married once before, is intensely private, and is rarely photographed with his family. He married longtime companion Regina Lasko in March. They have a son born in 2003.

Shortly after his wedding, he said on the show: "I had avoided getting married pretty good for, like, 23 years, and I -- honestly, whether this happened or not -- I secretly felt that men who were married admired me ... like I was the last of the real gunslingers."

Known for his comic Top 10 lists on current events, Mr. Letterman has been hosting the Late Show since 1993 and has been a fixture on late night TV for nearly three decades. Just last week U.S. President Barack Obama appeared on the show.

Mr. Letterman started Thursday's broadcast with his regular monologue, which included references to the infidelity of politicians.

© Thompson Reuters 2009


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is "Joel's" born faith? The same as Dave's wife? All the original reports--before media got hold of his booking data--indicated he was Robert JOE Halderman. Letterman did a pretty smarmy and presumably accurate on-air whining impression of Joel's plaintive personal plea. I saw the impression on You Tube. The cable and broadcast networks are creatively excising Dave's hilarious kvetching impression from their coverage. Rather like the recent Jane Harman and Marc Grossman lack of coverages.

7:22 PM  

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