Well, The Daily Show funnyman John Oliver did not exactly recommend stealing the six rather heavy-looking, grand crystal chandeliers at the St. Regis Hotel, but he did refer to them a few times as emblematic of the posh surroundings at the same time that he advised the gown and tuxedo-clad crowd to follow the British's lead when it comes to stocking their museums. "Steal as much as you can. It works for us," he joked. "Then you won't have to have a benefit dinner." Honoring Philippe Dauman, Chief Executive Officer of Viacom, Randy Falco, President and Chief Executive Officer of Univision Communications, and George Kaufman, Chairman of Kaufman Astoria Studios, Mayor Michael Bloomberg included this Museum of the Moving Image event in his rounds, pointing out that the city had more than 50 million tourists last year: "We are the media capital of the world."
Perhaps keyed to the Queens-based museum's recent exhibition of Jim Henson's legacy, he said: "I took Kermit to a Yankee game and offered to buy him popcorn. He's a cheap date. The frog said, I'll just go out in the field and catch some flies."
Then Tony Bennett toasted George Kaufman, emphasizing the importance of his childhood neighborhood, Astoria, to the city. "The teachers and firemen all live there. They make Manhattan work. I love Astoria. "
As celebrants dined on beets and brie, bass over bok choy, Jim Bell introduced Randy Falco -- who he met when Bell was offered a position at NBC. Delighted, the recent Harvard graduate then learned the job was to push Falco, who had ruptured his Achilles tendon, in a wheelchair. Taking the podium, Falco gamely added that he had talked Bell out of pursuing law school: "I think it worked out."
Among the many anecdotes and readings offered by an array of speakers honoring the memory of Christopher Hitchens at the Cooper Union Great Hall, including Salman Rushdie, Olivia Wilde (for whom he babysat), Ian McEwan, Sean Penn, Tom Stoppard, Martin Amis and Graydon Carter, many stories about this beloved, witty, charming and courageous public intellectual stood out. But Stephen Fry read from an essay in which Hitch decried the fate of the Elgin Marbles beneath a photo of the outspoken writer at the Parthenon. What an obsession this theft is for the British!
Fry vowed to rally for their return. Maybe John Oliver should join in.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.
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