The 2000 Year Old Man lives! He made a cameo appearance tonight at the Paley Center for Media's fund-raiser honoring the great Carl Reiner and the deserving Matt Blank and Robert Greenblatt of Showtime Networks.
Reiner's tribute was funny, of course, with hosannas coming from the event's host, Bonnie Hunt, as well as Larry Gelbart, Dick Van Dyke, Lily Tomlin, George Segall and progeny Rob Reiner. It was clear that as he surveyed his career retrospective in the clip package, the recent loss of his wife of 65 years, Estelle, was not far from Carl Reiner's mind. He credited his wife, who died in October at 94, with "raising me" and influencing every aspect of his professional life.
It was also clear that Reiner was enjoying the opportunity to reminisce. Mel Brooks, Reiner's old compadre from the "Your Show of Shows" writers' room, was among the luminaries in the crowd, along with Norman Lear. Reiner got a second standing ovation as he walked off the stage and over to where Brooks was seated and kept right on talking. Hastily, a spotlight and a microphone materialized and in an instant the crowd was treated to a dash of "The 2000 Year Old Man."
I only took mental notes but the routine went something like this:
Brooks: "He used to come in to my candy store. With 12 guys."
Reiner: "What were they like?"
Brooks: "They wore sandals."
Blank (pictured right) and Greenblatt (pictured left) were laughing, but also gulping about having to follow such a great act. ("This American Life" host Ira Glass got a big laugh in the clip reel when he noted Blank's resemblance to Mel Cooley of Reiner's "The Dick Van Dyke Show.")
Smart dudes that they are, Blank and Greenblatt didn't try to out-do Reiner. After kind words from "Weeds" stars Elizabeth Perkins and Justin Kirk and a bit of wit from Ullman, the execs humbly and sincerely thanked the creative talent who have fueled Showtime's rise in the past few years, and they let us all call it a night.
It was announced during the gala that Barbara Dixon, veep and head of the L.A. branch of Paley Center is exiting her post after seven years at the end of the month and heading to Sonoma, Calif., to tend to her very own vineyard. Dixon (pictured far right with Kyra Sedgwick) has been a good friend and supporter of mine during her tenure at the Paley. I'm grateful to her, and I'm going to miss her.