President Obama’s selection as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize came as such a surprise, some wags are saying even Hollywood wouldn’t have come up with such an improbable scenario.
But our TVWeek sources say that that’s exactly where the idea was hatched. They even provided us with a transcript of the meeting between writer-director Robert Towne, Oprah Winfrey, "24" showrunner Howard Gordon and Arnold Schwarzenegger, plus some talent including Stewie Griffin, Cosmo Kramer and Ricky Ricardo. (Or maybe they didn't. I might have dreamt this … )
Winfrey: Let me get this right: Barack and I go all the way to Denmark and get all this publicity and make a big splash, and then the IOC screws us?
Towne: That’s right. And then when Obama finds out he’s been screwed, Rahm grabs his shoulder and says, “Forget it, Barack. It’s Copenhagen.”
Winfrey: No, forget it. Doesn’t work for me.
Gordon: OK. Two ways to get out of this. One, Bauer takes out the entire IOC for the insult. Or two, unbeknownst to everyone, Oprah and Obama sneak over to Norway and, and , and ….
Towne: Why would they do that?
Winfrey (ignoring him): Hmm. Keep talking.
Schwarzenegger: Ya. I should be in the party too. I harassed a woman from Scandanavia once. I like them. We go over there to talk to the Nobel guys about maybe giving me an award.
Winfrey: Maybe not.
Stewie: Please. And I thought the dog was stupid. No Ahnold, we tell the Nobel folks Obama’s got to get the Nobel Peace Prize.
Kramer: I like this. I think it can work.
Stewie: I was kidding, you morons.
Schwarzenegger: No, I’m the Governator. You wanna give this to the Presidentator?
Winfrey: The who?
Stewie (to Schwarzenegger): Imbecile! If I may borrow a line from my own show, if you don’t shut up I'll put you on diaper detail and I promise I won't make it easy for you!
So the plot was hatched. Obama would get shafted on the Olympics decision, but the happy Hollywood ending would be preserved by his getting the Nobel Peace Prize. Yes, not really logical, but neither was “Forrest Gump,” and that won the best screenplay and picture Oscars.
Oh, yes; after all the details were finalized at the meeting, there was one last vestige of protest:
Ricky Ricardo: Nobel committee, you've got some splainin' to do!
As a female viewer of your show and an admirer of your comedic talents, yes, you owe me an apology and yes, you gave me—and all your viewers, your staff and most importantly, your wife—one on the air Monday night.
But Dave, I expected so much more from you. I consider you highly intelligent—if a bit curmudgeonly, extremely cynical and the type who definitely holds a grudge—but you seem to think my IQ level is in the low double digits. How else to explain that you "had no idea.” that the "women" (hmmm, how many is that?) that you bragged, yes, bragged, that you had sex with would not come under intense scrutiny?
You, yourself, in a successful attempt at humor, called out some famous philanderers that have provided you (and every other comic) with tons of material: Bill Clinton, Elliot Spitzer and Mr. Appalachian Trail South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.
Let's think back for a moment. No, no one wondered what Monica Lewinsky looked like, much less of what she had to say, right? I vaguely recall a HUGELY rated Barbara Walters special that starred Ms. Lewinsky in all of her post-presidential, post-intern glory. Ring a bell?
Ashley Dupree? Was that her name? Whatever. No, no one was really interested in the Governor of New York's interstate booty call. While she didn’t have a long shelf life, you must have a really short memory, Dave, being up on the news and newsmakers as you have to be to get fodder for your show every night.
So, you just couldn't imagine that these women who worked on your show and slept with you might be violated by your actions. Much less your wife, who was before your holy matrimony and as the mother of your child, your ultra-longtime girlfriend—whom you cheated on.
Let's go back to your original announcement of this scandal that—I'm sorry, Dave—is really not going away anytime soon. It's just too juicy of a story. You're an older, powerful, very rich, successful, now-married man and father of a young child who was sleeping with young women in your employ. People are interested.
You masterfully told a story in which you deflected nearly the entire focus onto your blackmailer without taking any responsibility for your actions whatsoever—much less issuing any sort of apology. Again, you bragged about having sex with the women, in an arrogant way, actually, like it was your right. And then capping it off by saying that you weren't going to say anything more. Period, end of story.
My, how quickly that changed. Let’s not even mention your $30 million salary and/or when your contract is up, or all the ad revenue you bring to CBS. Yes, Dave, you are a very valuable personage. And although you, most of your viewers, me, and most of the people reading this would most likely be classified as liberal, America is still a Puritanical country and it flies in the face of most people’s values to boast about your extra-curricular sexual escapades when you’re in a committed relationship. Recent case in point: that goofball California legislator who told sex stories over an open mike. Most people still don’t cotton to it. And that guy had to give up his job. I’m sorry, Dave. That’s just the way it is in these United States.
Dave, I'm not minimizing how scary it must have been to find that threatening packet in your car, with what, the former fling’s diary, some steamy e-mails, some photos? But maybe you're also pretty scary to the women who work for you. Even if they're secretly thrilled at your attentions, physically and otherwise.
You said in reference to hurting your wife that you have your work cut out for you in saving your marriage. And that is certainly true. But I'd say you have a pretty good chance of keeping her, since the odds show that most women stay with their rich, powerful husbands who cheat on them. Think Mrs. Clinton. Think Mrs. Spitzer. Think that new CBS show with Chris Noth and Julianna Margulies.
But maybe you can start a new chapter and your Midwestern guilt will actually kick in. Maybe you can keep your Worldwide Pants zipped at the office. Just because your production company doesn't have a clause stating that it's not cool to have sex with subordinates … well, Dave, it's really just not kosher.
But if it ever comes out that Jon Stewart is cheating on his wife and sleeping with his staff — I’ll absolutely have a heart attack.
Barnhart on Letterman: This is Creepy-—Telling a Story About Having Sex With Your Employees to People Who LAUGH and APPLAUD
I don't know where to begin with David Letterman's bizarro, play-it-for-laughs on-air admission that he had sex with staff members.
On the one hand, good for him for telling a fairly unvarnished account of being blackmailed by a Connecticut man for $2 million and admitting to the "creepy things," as Dave kept putting it, the blackmailer was threatening to take public.
On the other hand: Couldn't somebody have gone out between the first and second act and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Letterman is about to talk about something very difficult and though you might be tempted to laugh, please don't."
Instead, Letterman (whether by accident or design) wound up playing the story for laughs, and even drew applause with his admission that he'd had affairs with employees. Here are the highlights...
After a monologue that included more than one Roman Polanski joke -- which I found odd given my knowledge of what was coming -- act two began with Dave, who was clearly enjoying his audience, saying "I'm glad you folks are here tonight and in such a good mood ..... Do you feel like a story?" (Crowd: Yeahh!!)
So he starts talking about finding the package in the back of his car at 6 a.m. and the note, which read, "I know that you do some terrible, terrible things." Laughter. "A guy is going to write a screenplay about me ... unless I give him some money. ... That's a little hinky!" More laughter.
You can tell Letterman is trying to ratchet up the gravity. He uses the word "terrifying" to describe his response to this extortion letter. Later on he says, "This whole thing has been quite scary." But for every one of those statements there's one like this: "If you know anything about me, I am just a towering mass of Lutheran midwestern guilt." Of course, the crowd laughs. It sounds funny.
The first tipoff to the audience should have been Dave's statement, "This guy knows creepy stuff about me" --not "this guy thinks he knows creepy stuff about me."
And then finally, after telling the audience that the suspect, now ID's as Robert Halderman, had been arrested, applause, finally Dave reveals the allegation in the screenplay: that "I have had sex with women who worked for me on the show." And....?
My response to that is, yes, I have," said Letterman. At this admission, the audience laughs and then rolls into applause.
If this was the reaction of most of Dave's audience at home, then he's home free.
If it wasn't, he's got a lot of damage control to do.
I'm sure over time, the blackmailer will merge in my memory with the would-be babynapper and the schizophrenic stalker as evidence that David Letterman is some kind of magnet for seriously disturbed people–—the "King of Comedy" as well as of late night.
But right now, this night stands out as singularly icky in the annals of David Letterman. And I don't think that feeling's going to fade anytime soon.
For one thing, as employees of Worldwide Pants (!), the females who had sex with Dave work or worked for Dave. So there's potentially a power issue involved, as anyone who's been in an unfortunate liaison with their boss already knows.#
To see a clip of Letterman telling this story on his show, click here