“Only one, maybe two” staffers at “48 Hours Mystery” have contributed to the reported $100,000 defense fund for suspended “48″ producer Joe Halderman, says Susan Zirinsky, executive producer of the CBS newsmagazine.
In her first public comments since Halderman’s arrest Oct. 1 on charges of attempted grand larceny, Zirinsky said yesterday that the hard-charging producer had raised the bulk of the money “from family and friends, not from people in the shop.”
That was all Zirinsky said. Like everyone at CBS, she is on media lockdown about the case. No mystery there. “Late Show” host David Letterman, the target of Halderman’s alleged $2 million extortion try, is a cash cow for CBS.
Halderman’s attorney, Gerald Shargel, argued in court yesterday that his client is guilty of no crime and that charges should be dropped. Halderman was only trying to sell a screenplay to Letterman, Shargel said, not shake him down about his intra-network sexual liaisons.
Letterman’s attorney, Daniel J. Horwitz, labeled it “classic blackmail,” not a business transaction. Both sides said they would go to trial, if necessary. The judge is expected to rule in January.
Meanwhile, Halderman’s suspension went from paid to unpaid about two weeks ago, CBS sources confirm. Reason? He broke the morals clause in his contract, they say.
While current CBS employees aren’t talking, several alums are, including Marcy McGinnis, who worked with Halderman when she ran the London bureau from 1992 to ’97. She considers him a friend.