Last Wednesday, while “Lost” promos were once again leaving faithful viewers feeling misled and “A Dr. Phil Primetime Special” was begging the apocalyptic question of how quickly the other three horsemen would gallop into the nation’s living rooms, more than 300 well-dressed media machers in Manhattan were donating their evening to a good cause.
The Museum of the Moving Image every year at this time honors two entertainment industry leaders whose names can pack the penthouse at the St. Regis hotel. This year the honorees were Leslie Moonves, the chairman of CBS and co-chief operating officer of Viacom, and Jeff Bewkes, the chairman of the Entertainment and Networks Group of Time Warner.
Comedian Jim Gaffigan, who starred in a short-lived CBS sitcom “Welcome to New York,” graciously let the black-tied crowd off the hook- “I’ve never heard of me either”-and welcomed “the opportunity to put my career 10 years back.”
MMI board Chairman Herb Schlosser presented Mr. Bewkes with a special edition of “Crusade in Europe” autographed by general-turned-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mr. Moonves was presented with two cigars in a canister that had been owned by fabled CBS founder Bill Paley, whose 35th floor Black Rock office Mr. Moonves is scheduled to move into today.
Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons lauded Mr. Bewkes as “the future of this company.” Mr. Bewkes (who called Mr. Parsons his “rabbi”) reminisced about his youthful experiment with Judaism. “By the time I was 12, I was sending back soup in restaurants,” Mr. Bewkes said.
Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone joked about Mr. Moonves’ first career (“Never in the history of this business has a failed actor been so successful”) and two hallmarks of Mr. Moonves’ second career, as studio chief: “ER” and “Friends”-“The two greatest shows [NBC Universal Television Group President] Jeff Zucker will ever know.”
Mr. Moonves-may the gods of TV continue to bless him-kept his comments brief. He almost gently corrected one of the gentile Mr. Bewkes’ Yiddishisms and ticked off the most important secrets to success in television.
In-towners such as The Insider were home from the dinner in time to catch “primetime>live” midway through its act of “Idol”-atry.
On the honor roll tonight at the 13th annual gala tossed by the Ronald McDonald House of New York is NBC Universal Television Networks Group President Randy Falco, a member of the board of directors for the largest housing facility in the world for families of children being treated for cancer.
Just as Mr. Bewkes and Mr. Moonves brought along their bosses and favorite stars-“The Sopranos”‘ Lorraine Bracco and “CSI: NY’s” Melina Kanakaredes, respectively-Mr. Falco will show he’s got the Wright stuff for this kind of name-dropping. In addition to NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright, Mr. Falco’s band of NBC Universal brothers will include the aforementioned Mr. Zucker and NBC Sales and Marketing President Keith Turner.
Hosting will be Al Roker, who daily works the crowd outside “Today’s” studios. And “Saturday Night Live’s” master mimic Darrell Hammond will probably make a better, um, impression than did the stars with lines last week.
That’s in The Insider’s always-humble opinion.