Pop Culture

Letterman extortion case heads to court

Just when it was becoming possible to watch the “Late Show with David Letterman” without thinking about the host’s extortion scandal, the case is back in the news.

Robert “Joe” Halderman, the CBS news producer accused of attempting to extort $2 million from Letterman, is due to appear in a Manhattan court Tuesday for the first hearing in the criminal case against him.

Before even entering the courtroom, Halderman (who will likely appear, although Letterman probably won’t) was making news.

The New York Observer reported that since his Oct. 2 indictment, he’s raised $100,000 for his defense fund, which would seem to indicate that he won’t be taking any plea deal from the prosecution. If Halderman is found guilty of attempted grand larceny, he could face up to 15 years in state prison.

Tuesday's hearing will likely tackle the mundane issues involved with scheduling future proceedings, but don’t rule out some headline-making from Halderman’s attorney, according to NBC legal analyst Dan Abrams.

“The judge will address any legal issues in front of him, like what sort of evidence the defense is entitled to and when,” said Abrams. “In large part, however, they will assess what the broader legal questions are that need to be resolved and likely set dates for future proceedings. Watch for defense attorney Gerry Shargel, however, to continue his public assault on Letterman's character. He may also try to make it seem as if he wants to move forward with a trial whether that is true or not. So don't expect any grand revelations but based on the way Shargel has behaved already, I would not be surprised to hear some theatrics from the defense.”

What a week for Levi JohnstonThink that Levi Johnston’s Playgirl photo shoot is the most interesting thing happening to him this week? Think again.

On Wednesday, the father of Sarah Palin's grandson will receive Fleshbot’s “Crossover Star Award,” for being the biggest pop-culture star turned sex star. (Since you didn’t ask: Yes, the award itself is in the shape of a sex toy.)

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Fleshbot’s editor Lux Alptraum broke it down: “Levi's receiving a Crossover Award to honor the bravery and self confidence he’s displayed in making the leap from future son-in-law of the Republican VP candidate to Playgirl pinup — but yes, his abject sexiness was certainly a factor in our decision making process. It makes more sense to honor someone who we want to see naked, after all.”

And, it seems a “Saturday Night Live” appearance could be in the cards, too. In a tweet on Monday, Johnston wrote (spelling and grammar all his): “BREAKING NEWS !!!! SNL APPEARANCE THIS SAT . .. were you hear it first !!!”

True to form, “SNL” is keeping mum: “Sorry. We never confirm possible guest stars,” was the response. January Jones and the Black Eyed Peas are booked for the Nov. 16 show.

New chance for AshleeAshlee Simpson will make her Broadway debut this December with a six-week run in “Chicago,” as Gossip Cop.com first reported. But will it be a success for the Simpson sibling?

Most recently she was yanked from a relatively small role on “Melrose Place,” but prior to that, Simpson did take a stab at “Chicago” on London’s West End.

“The idea behind the London run was that if it was a success, she’d bring the role to America,” said a source close to the British run. “She didn’t deliver last time around, not sure why they’re taking a chance with this production. If she succeeds, though, it buys her career more time. If not, she could be in real trouble.”

Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter @courtneyatmsnbc

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