Monday, October 5, 2009

The Letterman Screenplay: $2 Million Pitch, and My Own Less-Than-$2 Million Screenplay Idea


Be careful how you pitch this man a screenplay; you might wind up arrested.

David Letterman is the host of a popular late night TV talk show, who has a secret bedroom in the darkest corners of the theater where he works:

Lights, cameras and plenty of action!

Skirt-chasing funnyman David Letterman's restricted office at his Midtown studio has all the trimmings for a bachelor on the prowl, including a fold-out couch and a kitchen, The Post has learned.

The randy comic, who was the victim of an extortion attempt over his in-house dalliances, keeps the quarters private to all but a select few staffers, sources said.

"It's off limits to pretty much everybody," a "Late Show" insider told The Post yesterday.

Wait a second-- extortion attempt? Really? I thought it was a screenplay pitch:

[Robert] Halderman demanded to be paid $2 million in an initial meeting with Letterman Sept. 9, when Halderman allegedly waited outside Letterman's New York City apartment at 6 a.m. "with a letter and other materials."
...
The district attorney said the screenplay described a scenario in which Letterman's world would "collapse all around him" and would lead to a "ruined reputation."

That sounds like a great idea for a movie. Who wouldn't want to watch something like that? Maybe, and here's a thought, they could write about a secret bedroom in the building where the talk show host works. And that's just off the top of my head.

Anyway, David Letterman apparently really liked the idea, because he gave the man who pitched it, Robert "Joe" Halderman, a check for $2 Million.

And while he admitted that Halderman did attempt to cash Letterman's phony $2 million check, "the surrounding circumstances are what's relevant," [Halderman attorney Gerald] Shargel said.

Letterman bought this screenplay idea, then gave the man who pitched a phony check. And which of the two men is facing charges right now?

Think about it. Halderman is a producer for "48 Hours," and a "respected journalist:"

Halderman is an award-winning journalist who has covered several wars for CBS, reports Wallace. He has worked as a producer for the real-life crime show "48 Hours" for more than a decade.


Robert "Joe" Halderman was pitching a screenplay idea to David Letterman, and then a bunch of stuff happened.

We're supposed to believe that a producer for a true crime television show like "48 Hours," a man who should know the ins and outs of policework and investigative techniques, would try to extort money from someone by asking him for a check for $2 million? And not even meeting directly with the object of the extortion?

Letterman said he called his lawyer to set up a meeting with Halderman.... There were two subsequent meetings, the last one resulting in the check being delivered.

Halderman met with Letterman's lawyers? He accepted a $2 million check? Where does one deposit a check for $2 million? Who writes a check for that amount?

If you were really trying to "extort" money from someone, wouldn't you ask for cash? Okay, maybe they can't get all the cash right away, but for crying out loud why would you ask for a check? And why would you agree to meet only with the lawyer of the extortion object? This story makes absolutely no sense to me.

Except the part about the secret bedroom.

Anyway, I'm thinking that now an even better screenplay idea might be as follows:

An idealistic true crime television show producer comes up with an idea for a screenplay about a late-night talk show host whose world collapses around him, because of his various sexual escapades. He has a friend of a friend who happens to be a late night talk show host himself, so he leaves some pitch materials in said talk show host's car (there's a comic scene in which the true crime producer keeps just missing the talk show host, and, in a hurry, is forced to leave the materials with the talk show host's driver-- oh, he keeps missing the talk show host because the host is hiding out in his "secret bedroom," doing Sudoku). The talk show host totally misunderstands the intentions of the true crime producer, and sets up a meeting between the true crime producer and the talk show host's attorney. The true crime producer and the attorney have two hilariously confusing and confused meetings, in which the true crime producer thinks he's pitching a movie idea, and the attorney thinks that his client- the talk show host- is being extorted. The talk show host and his attorney bring in the district attorney, the attorney wears a wire, and the true crime producer still thinks he's making a deal for his first screenplay. He's pretty excited, because he can really use the money, what with having two ex-wives, and alimony and all. Then, the true crime producer attempts to cash his $2 million check, and is arrested. He is totally confused by the whole thing! It takes months to untangle the whole misunderstanding, and in the meantime, embarrassing facts about the talk show host's private life revealed, and joked about. Seriously, get Steven Soderbergh to direct this thing- it's tailor-made for him.

And I won't even ask for $2 million for my screenplay idea; you can have it for a cool $500K. I'm not greedy.

Halderman pic source.
Letterman pic source.

1 comment:

A.Jaye said...

Get david letterman to play the talk show host.