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The Insider

Mar 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The long and raucous goodbye for one of The Insider’s favorite folk starts April 15, when the UJA-Federation of New York presents “A Roast in Honor of Larry Divney,” the retiring president and CEO of Comedy Central, at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. “It’ll be like the bar mitzvah he never had,” promises the invitation, which contains a rimshot-ready one-liner spread over two pages. “It’s always funny until someone loses an eye.”
The invitation also says dietary laws will be observed. But it’s otherwise likely to be a wild night that is not for the faint of heart. The roasters range from Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel and Colin Quinn to Robert Smigel and his right-hand pup, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. And of course, it’s not a roast without Jeffrey Ross, who once proposed to The Insider sight unseen-which is, of course, The Insider’s only hope.
“People are really digging deep on Divney,” said a longtime associate. “This is going to be savage.”
If you want to get in on the evening, reservations start at $400 a seat and go all the way up to $25,000 for a table for 10 and the back cover of the program. Make that back covers. Laurie Pine, communications director for the UJA-Fed New York, says if more than one party wants the back cover, a foldout can be arranged.
The evening starts at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails. If the UJA-Federation of New York were smart, it would sell tickets to the inevitable afterparty that will coalesce around Mr. Divney. Some of The Insider’s fondest foggy memories are of such pub crawls with the divine Divney over the course of his 20 years with the Viacom-owned channel.
So mark your calendars for April 15-and the few days afterward, for purposes of recovery. C’mon, it’s for an assortment of good causes and for one of the greatest guys in TV. Dig deep and call 212-836-1453 for reservations.
This Just In
Speaking of Mr. Stewart, who has just signed for four more years as the faux-rocious anchor of the mock news program known as the “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, he was in superb form (and business suit) last week as emcee of the black-tie International Radio & Television Society’s Gold Medal Award dinner honoring the Big 3’s Bigfoots.
The frightful weather outside thinned the hardy herd to intime proportions. “ABC World News Tonight” anchor Peter Jennings was on assignment in Iraq. In a between-course chat with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw and “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather, Mr. Stewart was overheard joking: “I knew Jennings wouldn’t show.”
When ABC’s Jennings cropped up the following day on MSNBC in foreign news video showing a scrum of people at the scene of the Baghdad hotel bombing, it was clear how dangerous Mr. Jennings’ assignment had turned.
The flagship anchors are old pros at acknowledging the retrospective moments occasioned by such events as the IRTS dinner. And “Face the Nation” moderator Bob Schieffer was smoothly folksy, funny and efficient in his introduction of Mr. Rather.
But Brian Williams’ introduction of Mr. Brokaw, whom Mr. Williams finally will succeed after the presidential election in November, was, according to consensus reviews, too jokey, too much about Mr. Williams, and too long.
“You’re going to burn out TelePrompTers,” jibed Mr. Stewart, who wondered whether Mr. Williams’ “filibuster” had resulted in passage of a law.
Reege By Threege
Will the real Regis Philbin stand out when he’s being imitated on “Live With Regis and Kelly” by first-time co-host Ben Affleck and “Saturday Night Live’s” Darrell Hammond?
Mr. Affleck, who is filling in for still-vacationing Kelly Ripa this week, and Mr. Hammond tested their impressions of Mr. Philbin in a taped segment that involved three familiar Philbinisms: “What’s going on here, Gelman?” “That’s right, I’m going to save the network. Again!” And “I’m out of control!”
The Insider gets all “Gigli”-um, giggly-just thinking about being surrounded by this particular sound.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, “The Apprentice’s” Donald Trump will be the guest co-host and the two pals can joke about how both have saved their respective networks.