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Rather, Friends Producers Feted

CBS anchor Dan Rather and the executive producers of NBC’s Friends accepted honors from the Museum of Television & Radio in Los Angeles Monday night.

Jay Leno, host of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, hosted. Among his better quips was a reference to CBS' statement that the network did not cave to Republican pressure in deciding to pull its miniseries, The Reagans: "Now we know what the BS in CBS stands for."

Top CBS executives were away at a Viacom Inc. retreat (or perhaps hiding from protesters who had gathered in front of the Beverly Hills Hotel, where the event took place), and were not there to hear Leno's jibes or see Rather accept his award, presented to him by Fox’s 24's Kiefer Sutherland.

Two clip reels featuring Rather in various locations around the world -- from the rice paddies of Vietnam to the mountains of Afghanistan to recently fire-ravaged Southern California -- highlighted Rather's lengthy career at CBS News.

The cast of Friends -- minus Jennifer Aniston, who called in sick -- presented the award to the show's executive producers: Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane.

Regarding Aniston's absence, Friend Matthew Perry joked, "She said she'd rather stay home than share the stage with a no-talent hack like Dan Rather."

Besides writing and executive-producing blockbuster hit Friends for 10 years, Bright, Kauffman and Crane also wrote and produced NBC's Veronica's Closet and Jesse and Home Box Office's Dream On.