- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 25, 2005

Letterman’s lament

A New Mexico judge has ordered David Letterman to stop sending coded messages to a female viewer via his nightly monologues, Reuters news agency reports.

It sounds ridiculous, but the late night host isn’t laughing.

Santa Fe District Judge Daniel Sanchez signed an order last week requiring the star of the CBS “Late Show With David Letterman,” which is taped in New York City, to stay at least 100 yards away from Colleen Nestler and to refrain from contacting her.

Attorneys for Mr. Letterman asked for the restraining order to be thrown out, saying, “The claims made are obviously absurd and frivolous.”

Mr. Letterman’s Los Angeles-based attorney, Jim Jackoway, said in a statement that the order “constitutes an unfortunate abuse of the judicial process.”

Miss Nestler claimed in her petition for a restraining order that Mr. Letterman had caused her bankruptcy, mental cruelty and sleep deprivation since May 1994. She asked that in addition to being barred from approaching or contacting her Mr. Letterman be ordered to not “think of me, and release me from his mental harassment and hammering.”

Her court request was accompanied by a rambling, six-page typed letter in which Miss Nestler said Mr. Letterman and other TV personalities, including Regis Philbin and Kelsey Grammer, had secretly communicated with her through the public airwaves.

Miss Nestler wrote that she began sending Mr. Letterman “thoughts of love” in 1993 and that he responded to her on his show through the use of code words, gestures and “eye expressions” conveying his desire to marry her and train her as his co-host.

The restraining order signed by Judge Sanchez sets a court date for Jan. 12, but Mr. Letterman’s lawyers have asked for an expedited hearing on the matter.

Neither Miss Nestler, who is representing herself, nor the judge could be reached for comment.

It isn’t the first brush with the bizarre for Mr. Letterman — and the Nestler case is not his first experience with a fan fixation. A Connecticut woman, Margaret Mary Ray, was arrested several times for stalking the comedian over a period of five years.

Hatch faces court date

Winning the first “Survivor” prize hasn’t been all good news for Richard Hatch.

The reality-show star is facing a January trial date on tax evasion charges connected to his $1 million prize, Associated Press reports.

U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres denied three motions filed by lawyers for Mr. Hatch, the Newport, R.I. man who sometimes competed naked on the first season of the CBS reality show in 2000.

According to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Hatch’s lawyers had asked the judge to delay the trial and force federal prosecutors to divulge how much money Mr. Hatch supposedly owes the government.

Judge Torres scheduled jury selection for Jan. 10.

A federal grand jury indicted Mr. Hatch in September on tax evasion, wire fraud and mail fraud charges. Prosecutors say Mr. Hatch failed to pay federal income tax on his $1 million prize and other income.

In addition to the tax charges, federal authorities said Mr. Hatch created a charity for troubled teenagers, then used donations for his personal expenses. Mr. Hatch has repeatedly denied the charges.

Family TV offer

Cable television companies once blanched at offering a-la-carte- style packages. Now, as the Federal Communications Commission is in talks about regulating spicy cable content, some cable groups are rethinking their positions.

Although the FCC has not mandated that cable operators do so, Comcast Corp. is joining Time Warner Cable in offering a family-friendly cable package for its subscribers, Reuters reports.

Comcast Corp.’s planned family tier will include 16 channels of what the nation’s largest cable TV company hopes will be nonoffensive to younger or more sensitive viewers, such as C-SPAN, HGTV and the Food Network as well as a host of children’s channels.

Rival Time Warner Cable announced its own family package this month and includes at least 11 networks in common with Comcast’s new plan.

Both Comcast and TWC require that subscribers to their respective family tiers obtain a digital cable set-top box. Comcast will charge $14.95 a month for its service, while TWC will charge $12.99 for its slightly thinner offering.

One notable difference in the two packages is the absence of top children’s channel Nickelodeon from TWC’s plan. The channel offers viewers mostly cartoons by day and slightly more mature classic TV shows by night.

Comcast says it chose channels that meet its existing contractual programming agreements and carry limited live programming.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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