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Roast Took a Little Too Long to Dish Out

The Scene: Friday night at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, at the annual dinner and roast benefiting the Friends of the Los Angeles Free Clinic. Traditionally, the clinic has picked honorees guaranteed to turn out a star-spangled dais. This year’s honorees were Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner, producers of “The Cosby Show,” “Roseanne” and “A Different World.”

Who Was There: NBC entertainment chief Brandon Tartikoff as the master of ceremonies, and roasters Randy Quaid, Jonathan Winters, Debbie Allen, ABC Entertainment president Bob Iger and sportscaster Fred Roggin, as well as Mayor Tom Bradley, state Sen. Herschel Rosenthal, West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman, L.A. Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, Hal Linden, Harvey Korman, Garry Marshall, Robert Foxworth and Elizabeth Montgomery, Lucie Arnaz and Lawrence Luckinbill, a fair sampling of agents, and dozens of the men and women who determine what you’ll be watching on TV tonight.

Dress Code: Clinic supporters got out their long dresses and furs, while the TV industry types opted for the “I just came from the office and I was too busy to change” look.

Quoted: Tom Hoberman, president of the Friends of the Free Clinic, thanked the honorees for “subjecting themselves to tonight’s program of vilification and humiliation.” Tom Werner was frank about the reason for his tribute: “They honor us and get a lot of people to show up. But being roasted is nice, because we don’t have to say much until the very end.”

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Roseanne Bashing: Roseanne Barr, whose monologue at last year’s roast was peppered with free-wheeling expletives, wasn’t on hand this year. (Werner, who owns the San Diego Padres, was the man who had invited Barr down for that now-famous rendition of the national anthem.) Brandon Tartikoff drew a mixed response from the crowd when he explained that the TV queen “was at an all-you-can-eat spaghetti night at Howard Johnson’s.” ABC Entertainment president Bob Iger began his own Roseanne joke before nervously cutting himself off with the words, “I could get in a lot of trouble for this.” (Let’s give the lady a break, guys.)

Triumphs: Table favors were a grab bag of various influences, including a 1991 date book that doubled as the evening’s program, a disposable camera, individually boxed chocolates, and a cassette sound track to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” It’s a safe bet that most of the clinic supporters didn’t have that in their record collections.

Glitches: As it had done the year before, the event stretched into a long night. The evening began at 6:30, but the roast didn’t begin until after 9:30, leaving people at the tables grimacing and checking their watches--and in some cases, heading for the exits early with “Rocky Horror” in their pockets.


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