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David Letterman admits to affairs, says he was victim of $2-million extortion attempt

The CBS talk show host tells viewers that a person had threatened to expose affairs he had with staff members. An arrest has been made.

October 02, 2009|Scott Collins

Talk show host David Letterman said Thursday that he was the victim of a $2-million extortion attempt related to his sexual relationships with staffers on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman."

During a taping for Thursday night's broadcast, Letterman told viewers that three weeks ago he was approached by a person who claimed to have information about the host's affairs with female staff members. This person, Letterman said, threatened to expose the relationships unless payment of $2 million was received.

The CBS star approached the Manhattan district attorney's office, which began an investigation that culminated in Thursday's arrest of the person, whom Letterman did not identify.

Letterman, 62, said that during his grand jury testimony he acknowledged the sexual relationships.

"My response to that is yes I have," he told his studio audience. "Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps."

However, Letterman added: "I need to certainly protect my family."

CBS issued a terse statement that said in its entirety: "Mr. Letterman's comments on the broadcast tonight speak for themselves."

A spokesman for Letterman declined to elaborate on the talk show host's remarks.

The revelations come at a crucial time for Letterman. He has surged in the ratings since June, when Conan O'Brien took over from Jay Leno on NBC's "Tonight Show." For the week ending Sept. 25, "Late Show" averaged 5 million total viewers, up 28% compared with the same week a year ago, according to Nielsen Co.

This year Letterman married Regina Lasko, his companion since 1986. The couple have a young son, Harry, whom Letterman frequently mentions on the program.

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scott.collins@latimes.com

Times staff writer Matea Gold contributed to this report.

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