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• “Some people get Emmy nominations; some people get death threats.”

One joke that may have helped spark the fatwa was one of several lampooning al Qaeda in Mr. Letterman’s June 8 monologue. This was just days after the death of al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan. Though Kashmiri was rumored to be a long-shot choice to succeed Osama bin Laden, he wouldn’t have worked out even had he lived, Mr. Letterman cracked, pointing to Kashmiri’s “rocky start” as a front-runner: “He botched up the story of Paul Revere.”

The real butt of that joke: Sarah Palin, potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, who in early June on her “One Nation” bus tour had claimed that Paul Revere’s famous ride was intended to warn British soldiers as well as his fellow Colonists.

The website contributor, who identified himself as Umar al-Basrawi, railed in his post that Mr. Letterman had referred to bin Laden and Kashmiri and said that Mr. Letterman, in discussing Kashmiri’s death, had “put his hand on his neck and demonstrated the way of slaughter.”

“Is there not among you a Sayyid Nosair al-Mairi … to cut the tongue of this lowly Jew and shut it forever?” Mr. al-Basrawi wrote, referring to El Sayyid Nosair, who was convicted of the 1990 killing of Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane. Mr. Letterman is not Jewish.

The FBI said last week that it was looking into the threat.

While Mr. Letterman and his writers were polishing their jokes Monday afternoon, outside on Broadway, a bomb-sniffing dog was led around the periphery of the Ed Sullivan Theater in midtown Manhattan. Meanwhile, ticket-holders queuing up along the sidewalk seemed relaxed about attending Mr. Letterman’s first taping since the assassination threat. Some were even unaware that his life had been threatened.

“I’m not worried. They’ve got metal detectors,” said Kendall Phillips, a 25-year-old from Houston, noting a standard provision in the TV world for screening audience members. “Plus, it’s like really hard to get tickets.”

‘Modern Family’s‘ Stonestreet to star in Arbuckle TV film

“Modern Family” star Eric Stonestreet is channeling his inner Fizbo the Clown for HBO.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the actor is attached to star in “The Day the Laughter Stopped,” a telefilm in development at HBO Films revolving around silent-film star Fatty Arbuckle.

“John Adams” writer Kirk Ellis is on board to pen the project, with Barry Levinson set to direct the telepic based on the book by David A. Yallop.

Arbuckle (1887-1933) was a silent-film star, comedian, director and screenwriter who mentored Charlie Chaplin and discovered Buster Keaton and Bob Hope.

The popular comedian also had his troubles: In 1921, Arbuckle was accused of raping and accidentally killing actress Virginia Rappe and was tried for her death three times. Though he was acquitted, the scandal plagued his career and he worked sparingly in the 1920s.

The HBO telepic would span his rise to fame and subsequent fall.

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