'Late Show' host also admits sex with staffers
In an uncharacteristically personal revelation for David Letterman, the host took to his “Late Show” stage Thursday to admit that he was the victim of an extortion attempt — and acknowledge that he has had sexual relations with more than one staff member.
Online media reports named the man in the alleged extortion case as Robert Halderman, a producer for CBS.
In a statement, Eye confirmed that it “was made aware of an ongoing police investigation involving David Letterman and an employee at ’48 Hours,’ who was subsequently arrested earlier today on charges of attempted grand larceny in the first degree. CBS is cooperating fully with the authorities and the employee has been suspended pending the results of the investigation. Mr. Letterman addressed the issue during the show’s broadcast this evening, and we believe his comments speak for themselves.”
On the show, Letterman sat down behind his desk and asked his audience whether they wanted to hear a story — and the crowd enthusiastically cheered, not knowing what they were about to hear.
According to the host first received a package three weeks ago from someone who claimed to have information about alleged sexual relations he has had with female employees of the “Late Show.”
“I get to looking through it and there’s a letter in the package and it says, ‘I know that you do some terrible, terrible things. And I can prove that you do these terrible things.’ Sure enough, contained in the package was stuff to prove that I do terrible things,” Letterman said on Thursday’s edition of CBS’ “Late Show.”
The host said the alleged extortion suspect claimed he planned to write both a movie screenplay and a book based on what he knew — that Letterman had engaged in sex with staffers.
“He’s going to take all the terrible stuff he knows about my life — and according to this packet, there seems to be a lot of terrible stuff he knows about — and he’s going to put it into a movie unless I give him some money,” he said. “That’s a little hinky. I just want to reiterate how terrifying this moment is. Because there’s something very insidious about, is he standing down there, is he hiding under the car, am I going to get a tap on the shoulder?”
Letterman said the individual threatened to go public with the allegations unless Letterman paid the person $2 million.
The host, under advisement of his attorney, met with the man on three different occasions. According to Letterman, the suspect even made it clear he knew what he was doing was illegal.
Letterman told his audience that he then contacted the Manhattan District Attorney’s Special Prosecution Bureau.
“I had to tell them how I was disturbed by this I was worried for myself, I was worried for my family, I felt menaced by this, and I had to tell them all of the creepy things that I have done that were going to be exposed,” he said.
At that point in the story, the audience laughed nervously. “Now why is that funny?” Letterman asked.
The meeting with the D.A. led to a sting operation, in which Letterman met with the individual and handed the person a fake $2 million check. That person was arrested on Thursday.
“This morning, I did something I’ve never done in my life,” Letterman said. “I had to go downtown and testify before a grand jury.”
As part of the testimony, Letterman admitted that he had engaged in sexual relationships with staff members.
“My response to that is, yes I have. Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would,” Letterman said. “Especially for the women. But that’s a decision for them to make if they want to come public and talk about the relationships.
Letterman called the series of events “a very bizarre experience.”
“I feel like I need to protect these people — I need to certainly protect my family,” he said.
Letterman added that he wouldn’t have much more to say about the topic.
“I’m motivated by nothing but guilt. If you know anything about me, I am just a towering mass of Lutheran, Midwestern guilt,” he said.
This is not the first time Letterman has been the victim of an extortion attempt. Police revealed a plot in 2005 to kidnap Letterman’s baby son, Harry, for a $5 million ransom. House painter Kelly Frank was later charged with the crime.
Letterman has been married to Regina Lasko, the mother of his child, since March. The two have dated since 1986.
Revelation came on what should have been a day of celebration for Letterman, as ratings from week one of the new TV season gave the host his first outright latenight victory in four years.
Letterman’s news may also have an impact on the latenight ratings race as interest in the extortion case perhaps fuels tune-in. It’s been an eventful week in the latenight sphere, as “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien was rushed to the hospital last Friday after hitting his head onstage.