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It was a star-studded evening at New York’s Lincoln Center. Some of Hollywood’s greats gathered in Alice Tully Hall for the annual American Songbook Gala, this time paying tribute to Leslie Moonves, chairman and chief executive officer of CBS, for his — and his network’s — dedication to the arts.
“I was an unemployed actor walking the streets of New York, and to think that a few years later — quite a few — I would be getting an honor from Lincoln Center is pretty cool,” Moonves told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m a TV guy and CBS has had great success, but culture and America and the American arts are very important to me, so it’s a great honor.”
The event, which raises funds to support Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series and other performance festivals, as well as its educational and community initiatives, never disappoints, and this year was no exception. Throughout the night, host James Corden (The Late Late Show), as well as a slew of special guests, looked back at unforgettable moments in CBS’ rich history of embracing the arts, and some of the onscreen greats made in-person appearances.
Many familiar faces paid tribute to Moonves over the course of the show: Julie Andrews, Carol Burnett, Stephen Colbert, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, LL Cool J (NCIS: Los Angeles), Christine Baranski (The Good Wife), Jon Batiste, Paul Shaffer and The World’s Most Dangerous Band, Patina Miller (Madame Secretary) and Christopher Jackson (Broadway’s Hamilton, Bull) all took the stage for surprise appearances and performances.
And Corden, who performed his own take of a Les Miserables classic — cleverly renamed Les Moonveserables — might have poked fun at Moonves during his time onstage, but he has the upmost respect for the man who gave him his late-night hosting job.
“I owe everything to Les Moonves. He changed my life and my family’s life, and I’ll forever be indebted to him for giving me such an opportunity,” Corden told THR. “The career he’s had is one that deserves to be celebrated.”
And celebrate they did: By the end of the night, a record-breaking $3 million was raised to support Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series.
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