Why JetBlue guy skipped Emmys

Puts off announcing Hollywood deals to pacify D.A.

Former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater arrived in court Tuesday with his attorney, Daniel Horowitz, who represented David Letterman when the late-night host was the victim of an extortion attempt by a CBS news producer.

Slater is said to be fielding a slew of offers -- from book deals to his own reality show -- but he made no statements to the media on his way into the courthouse and remained silent during his brief appearance in Queens Supreme Court. He became a common man's hero in August when, at the end of a JetBlue flight and fed up with his job, he allegedly screamed obscenities into the plane's loudspeaker system, activated the emergency chute, grabbed two beers and slid down the chute to the tarmac.

Slater's lawyer met with Queens district attorney Richard Brown in an attempt to strike a deal that would keep Slater out of jail. If Slater is convicted, he could face up to seven years in jail.

Brown confirmed Slater is being evaluated as part of the plea deal negotiations "for participation in an alternative-sentencing program to address possible mental health, stress related, alcohol abuse and other issues." A deal would likely reduce the charges of trespassing, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.

Brown cautioned Slater and the media against downplaying the nature of the charges against the former JetBlue employee. "I've been very much troubled by the fact that both the defendant and the media have been trivializing that which occurred," Brown said. "Deploying an emergency escape chute on an aircraft filled with passengers is no laughing matter."

Both Horowitz and Slater's publicist, Howard Bragman, known for his representation of celebrities, appeared to get the district attorney's message.

Horowitz told reporters Tuesday that his client understands the seriousness of the charges and Bragman said "there was a big disconnect between the rumors and the stories and the real Steven Slater."

"When all this first happened in August," Bragman told THR, "he was a regular citizen who suddenly had 50 reporters waiting outside his door for a statement, no publicist and a public defender as his attorney. He got really overwhelmed by the situation."

Bragman has refused to discuss any Hollywood-related projects in Slater's future until court proceedings are concluded.

"He has a great team in place now, including Daniel Horowitz, Letterman's attorney, and we're all taking this very seriously," Bragman said. "Let me give you an example: He was invited to go to the Emmy Awards with a huge celebrity. It would have generated enormous amounts of publicity, and we turned it down. We knew it wasn't the right thing to do despite it being a huge media opportunity."

Allan Mayer, a crisis manager guru for the likes of Brandy and Halle Berry, noted that "generally, when you're in a situation that involves criminal charges, you don't want to do things that annoy the judge and the prosecutor. So to the extent that Mr. Slater is being advised not to do that, he's getting good advice."

Slater is being evaluated for the alternative sentencing program and is scheduled to return to court Oct. 19.