Emmy Awards winning CBS television producer Robert Joe Halderman is the epitome of privilege. He doesn’t feel that he should have to work for a living and decided he’d stoop to the extortion of Late Night Show host David Letterman. Mr. Halderman is being charged with trying to extort two million dollars from Mr. Letterman in a scheme that must have come straight out of a Big Labowski episode if the Jeff Bridges character did episodic television. So bizarre was his plan if it was submitted as a Charlie’s Angel script it would have been rejected as too unbelievable.
Mr. Halderman’s was a producer on the CBS Morning Show with Diane Sawyer and Bill Kurtis. He’s done work for 60 Minutes. He’s done news stories from countries all over the world. He wrote, produced and directed a film for Showtime titled Three Days In September about the deadly school siege in Beslan, Russia. He knows a little something about crime and criminals. He is a divorced father of two, Jimmy aged eleven and Anna aged eighteen, and was paying something in the neighborhood of seven thousand dollars a month in alimony and child support to keep his family living comfortably on a half million dollar piece of real estate in Norwalk, Connecticut . More than likely his CBS benefits package included a healthcare package. By many accounts, Mr. Halderman had what many of us would have thought was a good life.
But dude was tired of working and just scraping by. Mr. Halderman wanted to make a killing. And David Letterman was in his sites. In 2004, Mr. Halderman and his wife divorced and a year later he was living with Stephanie Birkitt, a staffer who worked for David Letterman. However, Ms. Birkitt and Mr. Halderman broke up about two months ago.
Mr. Letterman said that three weeks ago, he found a package in his car with an extortion note demanding the fortune as payment for not publicly revealing all the lurid details of Mr. Letterman’s sexual liaisons with members of his staff. Mr. Letterman took the package to his attorney and the two then took the information to the Manhattan district attorney’s office. By Mr. Letterman’s account, Mr. Halderman said he planned to write a screenplay about Mr. Letterman unless he coughed up the ransom to save his reputation.
It appears that Mr. Halderman is a predator. But then again Mr. Letterman looks like a predator as well. Mr. Letterman used his position of power to seduce women. Rumor has it he had his own bachelor pad above the Ed Sullivan Theater where he could seduce his female staffers. It is because Mr. Letterman was exploiting women that exposed him to a potential exploitation. Did I say that it sounded like the script from a bad Charlie’s Angels episode? It sounds more like one of those poor saps from one of those Saw movies that wakes up in a dirty abandoned bathroom in a leg chain attached to metal pipe with only an old, rusty hacksaw in arms length. Mr. Letterman had squandered his potential and now has a sobering choice to make. In a remarkable resemblance, Mr. Halderman squandered his potential as well.
Mr. Letterman has made his career out of making light of other people’s indiscretions. Not too long ago he was ridiculing the sexual exploits of Bristol Palin and her inability to say no to sex. One of the jokes that got big news was Sarah Palin’s daughter getting knocked up during the seventh inning stretch by Alex Rodriguez. Now, it appears to be a case of hypocrisy with the pot calling the kettle black. It’s a simple case of the Letterman calling the Palin horny. In the end, Mr. Letterman was no different than the woman he ridiculed.
Mr. Halderman said he was tired of working for a paycheck. Well it doesn’t look like he’s going to have that problem much longer. Even if dude doesn’t get an opportunity to do an authentic expose about prison from the inside of a barred cell, CBS would be smart to kick his ass to the curb like they did The Guiding Light. He might do a little jail time. But he’ll be alright. In fact, this might make him more notable in the future. Somehow, the privileged always seem to land on their feet even when they make the choice to jump off a cliff of respectability. I predict he’ll eventually do very well.
But what should the network do about Mr. Letterman? There is no way in hell CBS executives can come back and say they had no idea about Mr. Letterman’s sexual exploits. In fact, Mr. Letterman is doing nothing that many upper management corporate wheelers and dealers have not done themselves. It’s probably in their collective best interest to put this matter in the past quickly and pretend that this whole ordeal was just another one of those bad script ideas you see every now and then.