Doin’ It Wright
Feb 6, 2006
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And the winners are:
The Museum of Television & Radio, whose annual Gala Evening in New York honoring GE Vice Chairman and Executive Officer and NBC Universal Chairman and CEO Bob Wright and “Saturday Night Live” was its most successful ever, with more than $1.4 million raised in support of the museum; and
Autism Speaks, the organization co-founded by Mr. Wright and wife Suzanne in 2005 after one of their grandchildren was diagnosed as autistic.
At the point of the evening where industry dinner crowds can turn rowdy or begin their early retreat, the nearly 900 people who packed the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria last Thursday were instead intent on the poignant story behind Autism Speaks. “When they [autism] knocked on this family’s door, they knocked on the wrong family’s door,” said Mrs. Wright. Later, Mr. Wright said, “I may be Wright, but she is wonderful,” and even the saccharine- and family-intolerant Insider uttered a silent “Aaaaw.” No, really, she did.
Tucked into the ad-packed program placed in every seat Thursday was the blue ceramic Autism Speaks pin, but Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin already had one on his lapel when he came in the door. Mr. Karmazin told The Insider he has a 4-year-old grandchild who is autistic. The executive is on the board of Autism Speaks.
Not since the Wrights’ cause was featured as part of the final challenge of “The Apprentice” last year has their message been heard so loud and clear.
Speaking of the program, The Insider must pay tribute to Young & Rubicam Brands, which doctored a photo of Mr. Wright to make him look like one of “SNL’s” fabled Coneheads. The caption? “We knew it wasn’t humanly possible to be this successful.”
The evening’s other winners:
Tom Brokaw, who could supplement his pension, if that time ever comes, by renting himself out as an emcee.
Lorne Michaels, Mr. “SNL” himself, who noted that he could have been out clubbing with last week’s guest stars, Steve Martin and Prince but instead was paying his due to Mr. Wright because “Like in all families, with unconditional love comes responsibility.” He was supported by the assembled cast of “SNL,” including Maya Rudolph, fresh off maternity leave, and Darrell Hammond, who joked that having kissed “Paris Hilton” and “Monica Lewinsky” professionally, “Bacteriologically, I am now related to pretty much everybody.”
Conan O’Brien, who jokingly consoled Mr. Wright by saying that with the merger of The WB and UPN into The CW, NBC need no longer fear finishing in sixth place in the ratings. “A few more mergers like that and we’ll be back in first place,” he joked.
Katie Couric, who was not at the Waldorf but who nonetheless got a “You go, girl” from Gloria Steinem as the femme-inist got in a cab at the evening’s end. “I hope she goes” to CBS, Ms. Steinem said as she pulled the cab door closed, leaving The Insider to presume that Ms. Steinem’s sentiment was rooted in the fact that if Ms. Couric were to become the solo anchor of “CBS Evening News” it would be a herstoric moment.