The 2011 Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards at NATPE was a fantastic affair, and I don’t mind saying memorable for me personally. The event actually began in sheer horror for me, when I ran into honoree Mary Hart and her husband, Burt Sugarman. Days ago, I had written that American Idol should invoke the “Mary Hart Rule” and put J-Lo behind a clear desk. Having no idea how Mary would take it, I just hoped she forgot about it. But then CBS PR exec John Wentworth (my revenge on whom is already in the works) made sure to remind Mary and Burt it was me. Luckily they both loved the idea, said they had gotten a ton of calls about it, and Hart even told B&C’s Melissa Grego the next day she thinks Idol should do it. So disaster averted, but not after a moment of sheer panic.
The event itself was wonderful, and highlighted by NBC’s Dick Ebersol giving a beautiful remembrance of his best friend, Brandon, in what to this day is one of the best speeches I have ever heard at an event like that.
The fun continued the next day, when I sat down on stage with honoree Regis Philbin, in his first chat since his big announcement. While we ate ice creams bars on stage (I had to offer after seeing David Letterman do the same), I attempted to broker his next gig. He and Mary Hart had jokingly talked when we were at dinner the previous night about doing a show together. Ebersol tried to tempt him before the ceremony with a sideline reporting gig on his beloved Notre Dame football. And I had to ask if we might see him running his pal Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Turns out Regis says Regis needs a break. And no, he has no idea who will replace him. Just that it won’t be Keith Olbermann. Or Snooki.