Letterman extortionist plans return to TV news

5:00 AM PST 09/08/2010 by Allison Hope Weiner, AP

Robert 'Joe' Halderman ready to work now that he's out of jail

The TV producer who tried to blackmail David Letterman is a free agent.

Robert "Joe" Halderman is out of jail, released for good behavior after serving four months of a six-month sentence. Now he's ready to go back to work.

"He survived, and he made the best of it," his lawyer Gerald Shargel told THR about Halderman's jail experience.

It appears that Halderman, who was nominated for an Emmy for his work on an episode of CBS' "48 Hours Mystery" about the Amanda Knox case, was released from jail just in time to attend the News & Documentary Emmy Awards on Sept. 27. Although Halderman hasn't said whether he plans to attend the ceremony, his lawyer says his client is eager to return to work.

"His plan for the future is to simply re-enter the world of news and television since that's been his whole life, and his prospects look good to get back," Shargel said. "Some doors may be shut, but he's very talented."

Although Halderman's plea agreement prohibits him from disclosing anything about the Letterman incident -- he was forced to give prosecutors all copies of any diary entries, screenplay notes or other materials concerning Letterman and agree to keep the contents confidential -- there's nothing in the deal that prohibits the news producer from returning to television.

One potential block is the late-night host's considerable influence in the business, but Shargel rejected the suggestion that Letterman is likely to do anything to keep Halderman from getting work.

"It's in the best interests of everyone involved to put this matter behind and move on," Shargel said.

Although Halderman served time for attempting to blackmail Letterman over a relationship the married comedian had with Halderman's then-girlfriend, Shargel claims that the producer has managed to maintain many professional and personal relationships with colleagues and friends.

His attorney maintains that Halderman opted not to take the case to trial and to plead guilty because of the risks and costs that always accompany litigation. "We believe that this was a fair resolution of the case," Shargel said. "It was either this resolution or go to trial, and it's always a risk that the litigation could go on for years and financially cripple my client. We'd just be going to trial right now if we'd not agreed to the resolution."
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