In August 2009, 29-year-old aspiring screenwriter Justin Halpern, who had left Los Angeles to move back in with his parents in San Diego, Calif., launched a feed on the microblogging service Twitter featuring his 70-something father's sagacious yet salty comments on everything from Kate Beckinsale to the deleterious effects of eating at Wendy's.
It later became a book and then the inspiration for a sitcom, called (in a bowdlerized version of the actual Twitter feed name) "S..! My Dad Says," which airs Thursdays on CBS and stars William Shatner as Ed Goodson and Jonathan Sadowski as boomerang son Henry.
(By the way, the title is pronounced "Bleep My Dad Says.")Reading the 140-character "tweets," one might think Justin's dad, Samuel Halpern, is a sailor or a stevedore, but he's actually a retired radiologist who practiced at the University of California, San Diego.
"He's really smart," says Halpern, "and that's what we wanted to do here. It's not Archie Bunker. This guy has practiced medicine for 40 years. He lectured at Harvard. He's crude, but he's highly intelligent. He's the smartest person to walk into any room.
"Not everybody who graduated with a master's degree and a Ph.D. sits around with a brandy snifter and uses 70-point words in Scrabble."
Twitter provided Halpern with the platform to introduce his father's words to the world, and he acknowledges the debt. "I'm definitely the example of being in the right place at exactly the right time," he says.
When Halpern moved back home, he started out by abasing himself in front of his father, who then surprised him.
"I started in with this laundry list of basically self-insults," he says, "and he stopped me halfway though and said, 'I don't need to hear this crap. You can move in; you're my son.' "
And Halpern wishes to assure fans that his father's newfound fame is not going to turn him into a senior citizen version of The Situation from "Jersey Shore."
"Oh, God, no," Halpern says. "He thinks 'Jeopardy!' is a shameless reality show."