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Last Night: The Friars Club With Cronkite, Williams and Wallace

It’s never a bad night when you get to shake hands with Walter Cronkite, and last night the New York Friars Club honored New York News Legends with a side-splitting awards ceremony followed by a sit-down dinner. The evening started well-enough will a cocktail reception during which Cronkite, who was enjoying a nice drink and a plate of mini-hot dog appetizers, kept getting up to shake hands with everyone who, well, wanted to shake the hand of  The Most Trusted Man in America. As he patiently smiled through his umpteenth photo opportunity, somebody yelled “He’s going to get cranky if he doesn’t get his drink back!"” To which Cronkite responded, “That’s right!” and pretended to bang on the table.

The room was filled with the faces that fill our living room every evening– Rosanna Scotto, N.J. Burkett, Jane Hansen,Mr. G, and Roz Abrams– just to name a few. At one point, a gaggle of newsgatherers gathered together for a photo when Joel Siegal showed up. “Look who it is! Joel Siegal!!” the whole group yelled, and pulled him into to picture.

Lingering in the doorway watching the evening unfold was Mike Wallace.  I went up to introduce myself, and he told me he was happy we were covering the event and motioned around the room. “This room is full of people who have a great familiarity with New York and the news,” he began, but was quickly interrupted by Rosanna Scotto who came up with a smile. “I’m Rosanna Scotto,” she said. “I know who you are,” Wallace responded. “Well, I love you,” she gushed. “I always have you on in my home.” For me, it was nice to see that famous newspeople still get excited by meeting, well, other famous newspeople.

Although they were not present, the awards honored Kimberly Dozier and Bob Woodruff for the risks they took to cover the news, and Brian Williams accepted the Friars Lifetime Achievement Award–although he left quickly to attend a family event.  He did, however, get a membership to The Friars and Walter Cronkite throwing a few barbs his way as part of the deal.

As CW 11 Senior Correspondent and Friar Marvin Scott said to the boisterous crowd, “While The Friars Club is usually associated with comedians, we also have many distinguished journalists in our membership, and we want people to know that.” Looking around the room—and remembering  that Edward R. Murrow himself was a member–it was easy to see what he meant.

By Caroline Palmer