David Letterman has opened up about his indiscretions with female employees and how they rocked television – and his marriage – in a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.
In October 2009, David Letterman made a shocking on-air revelation on the Late Show that he had cheated on his wife, Regina Lasko, whom he had only married that March.
He made the confession after becoming the victim of an extortion plot concocted by a then-CBS producer, Robert Halderman, who demanded $2 million in exchange for his silence over the affairs.
“I have no one to blame but myself,” David Letterman told Oprah Winfrey in the interview which will air on Sunday on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
“And now, I feel better about myself, my relationship with my wife is never better, and it’s just because I want to be the person I always thought I was and probably was pretending I was. And so far, it’s been great. Things have been great.
“I hurt a lot of people. I have nobody to blame but myself. I’m not looking to blame anybody. I’m looking to find out why I behaved the way I behaved.”
It emerged that he had cheated on Regina Lasko, with whom he has a 9-year-old son, with female staff members, allegedly including Late Show assistant Stephanie Birkitt.
Robert Halderman, then a producer on CBS show 48 Hours, eventually served four months behind bars for the extortion plot.
After David Letterman’s on-air confession, he publicly vowed to repair his marriage.
“Let me tell you folks, I got my work cut out for me,” he said during the following taping.
“Inadvertently, I just wasn’t thinking ahead. My thanks to the staff for, once again, putting up with something stupid I’ve gotten myself involved in.”
But he also made light of the affair, later adding: “It’s chilly outside my house; chilly INSIDE my house.”
In the interview with Oprah Winfrey, David Letterman also attempted to put rumors about his years-long feud with fellow talk show great Jay Leno to bed.
For decades, audiences have believed their spat began when David Letterman lost out on Johnny Carson’s old seat at the Tonight Show, yet in the interview he hinted at how his once close relationship with Jay Leno actually crumbled due to the comic’s insecurities.
“We were always friends before all of this happened,” David Letterman, 65, said in the Oprah’s New Chapter interview, which airs in full on the OWN on January 6.
“He has a way – he’s an unusual fellow. I’ve never met anyone quite like Jay.
“And I will say – and I’m happy to say – that I think he is the funniest guy I’ve ever known. Just flat out, if you go to see him do his night club act, just the funniest, the smartest, a wonderful observationist and very appealing as a comic.
“Therefore, the fact that he is maybe the most insecure person I have ever known… I could never reconcile that.”
The high-publicized feud has previously been blamed on David Letterman being passed over as the replacement for Johnny Carson in 1992, when Jay Leno was given the job instead.
The battle was so well known that it was made into a 1996 HBO film, The Late Shift.
And this year, the spat hotted up when Jay Leno ended his 17-year reign at the Tonight show to begin the Jay Leno Show for NBC – which failed to garner the ratings of his rival’s show.
David Letterman went from strength to strength, overtaking Conan O’Brien in the late-night ratings.
The rivals have managed to laugh at their mutual animosity, appearing in a commercial during the 2010 Super Bowl in which they were separated on a couch by Oprah Winfrey.
To see the interview in its entirety, tune in to “Oprah’s Next Chapter” on January 6 at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.