The past couple days have just been fabulous. Tuesday night, big cigar dinner in New York benefiting prostate cancer. This is the 14th annual. It was at the Four Seasons. Marvin Shanken, Cigar Aficionado, is the sponsor of this dinner, got it all going. I was this year’s cohost. We had from The Sopranos, James Gandolfini this year, we had Uncle Junior, Dominic Chianese, Steven Van Zandt was there, Paulie Walnuts was there, Tony Sirico, and they were nice as they could be, we had great conversation. Surnow and Howard Gordon were there. It was a fabulous time. We raised $1.2 million. Michael Milken, who runs the Prostate Cancer Foundation, he matches everything that’s donated.
Yesterday I flew the “24” contingent that was at the party down here to Palm Beach. We had a blowout dinner party last night at my house, it ended at three a.m. At 1:30 this morning a bunch of us are out by the pool, and Surnow comes in, ?I want some bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches.? We just finished eating at ten o’clock. So we hustled up some bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. Listen to the guest list. I had Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginny, last night; noted thriller author Vince Flynn; Mary Matalin was in for this; the “24” contingent, including Colleen Surnow, Joel’s lovely and gracious wife, Howard Gordon, who is the head writer for the show, Mary Lynn Rajskub, who plays Chloe. I had Chris Mara, who’s the son of Wellington Mara, owns the New York Giants, Kathleen Rooney Mara, she’s of the Steelers dynasty, their daughter Kate has a role on “24” and her debut appearance, replacing Edgar, was Monday night. We had a bunch of local friends from Palm Beach here who are huge fans of the show.
The party actually began yesterday afternoon when we got back from New York. We had to interrupt to take showers and get ready for all the other guests to arrive. I, of course, ladies and gentlemen, because of my commitment to you and commitment to this program, despite the party not ending ’til three, and tumbling into bed at four, I — and Mr. Snerdley can vouch for it — was here at exactly the same time I always am. I’m not sure that Surnow is out of bed yet. I hope he is (Laughing) he’s supposed to be here in 45 minutes. But I tell you, the cigar dinner was a huge success. It was standing room only and an oversold crowd. Not everybody who wants to get into this thing every year can do so, but it’s just a tremendous event. I made a few brief remarks, and I’ll repeat the gist of them for you here. I have met people I otherwise wouldn’t have met were it not for the fact that people who smoke cigars get together.
Cigars are a bridge. They bridge a gap between people who might not otherwise meet or even if they met, might not be interested in getting to know each other. I’ll give you one example. The first cigar dinner I went to, we had it at 21 in New York, and I walked upstairs, and I’m relatively new to the city, and I only know two or three people that are going to be at this thing. It’s titans from business and finance and all over the place. The first person I saw was the late Gregory Hines, the actor, and I remember it was some time ago, but my most recent memory of seeing him perform was a tribute to Sammy Davis, Jr. Before Sammy Davis, Jr. died, they did a little tap dance competition. Sammy Davis, Jr. was ailing but it was one of the most amazing things that I’ve ever seen. I always thought Sammy Davis, Jr. had more talent in his little finger than any entertainer of his day, and Gregory Hines was the same.
So I walked up to Gregory Hines, and he looked at me and he recognized me, and I could see immediately suspicion in his eyes, but I told him what I thought of the show he did with Sammy Davis, Jr., and how it had a lot of meaning to me because Sammy Davis, Jr. was not well and Gregory Hines could have tap danced rings around him but didn’t. It was deference to a star, deference to the pro, and I told him all this. So he thanks me, shakes my hand, and gets up later and gives his remarks, as happened throughout the cigar dinner, and he held up his cigar, and he said, “I want to thank whoever invited me here, and I want to thank this cigar, because if it weren’t for this cigar I would not have gotten to know the real Rush Limbaugh.” And that’s what I mean.
That’s what happens at these dinners. John Salley, who is on the Best Damn Sports Show, he’s hilarious. He’s huge, but he’s hilarious. He brings the house down every year, and he made an announcement at the cigar dinner. He said that he showed up the first time at this thing as anybody would expect him to be, a raving Democrat, but he has become a Republican since he met me. I don’t know if he means it or not, because everybody starts laughing. I think he does. But it was just a great time, and I just wanted to share the experience with you because it’s all for such a great cause.
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