Harry Shearer Helps New Orleans and I Ruin His Night

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I unwittingly ruined Harry Shearer's evening at a party last night. Shearer -- the voice of Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns and Principal Skinner (and therefore one of my heroes) -- was the master of ceremonies at a cocktail reception for the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans. Held in New York at the Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Center, the event honored the work of Time Warner for "keeping the nation focused, through responsible broadcast and print journalism, on the needs of New Orleans" in the wake of Katrina.

How did I ruin Shearer's night? I asked him about the writers strike. He was more than happy to talk about it but apparently hadn't heard the news that the Directors Guild of America had reached its own tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers -- a move that isn't necessarily good for the writers. "Thanks for bumming me out!" was the last thing Shearer said to me. He was joking. I think.

He was also joking earlier in the evening when he said the party reminded him of New Orleans, "because Ray Nagin isn't here, either." He made a couple of jabs at other politicians, including non-presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, who was present for the event, but saved his sharpest barbs for Nagin ... and Soledad O'Brien, who he said "was personally responsible for $50,000 going to the Tipitina's Foundation ... It happened because I whooped her ass on 'Celebrity Jeopardy.'" (O'Brien was there to accept the New Orleans Citizenship Award from PRC President Robert Brown on behalf of Time Warner.)

Also on hand for the evening was Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons, Crown Media Holdings President-CEO Henry Schleiff and Time Inc. Editor in Chief John Huey. Huey, an Atlanta native, allowed me a few moments of conversation about SEC football and the folly of the BCS. Apparently, we were two of the few people who bothered to watch all four quarters of Georgia slaughtering Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.

Ellis Marsalis and the Derek Douget Band also played a few sets. And Time Warner presented a video showcasing Katrina coverage from media properties across its portfolio. Remarked a woman standing immediately in front of me: "They're not gonna be happy until they make us cry."

She then started crying.
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