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Just weeks after Disney/ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney exclusively revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that she’s stepping down to become a TV director, Jimmy Kimmel roasted his outgoing boss’ decision to leave her coveted position.
“Anne, I still don’t understand this decision,” Kimmel said during a speech at Monday night’s Alliance for Children’s Rights dinner. “I mean, you want to be a director, you can buy one of those fold -up wooden chairs. I can’t figure this out; it makes no sense. Are you on drugs? You’re really leaving that giant office and the Disney jet to direct NCIS Los Angeles?”
Sweeney and actor Willie Garson were honored at the Beverly Hilton gala after Kimmel poked fun at Sweeney’s move in a series of remarks that prompted laughter from the well-heeled crowd.
“Anne, I think it’s time we tell you this isn’t a fundraiser, this is an intervention,” said Kimmel.
Since Sweeney stated she wants to start at the bottom to learn the ropes, Kimmel also suggested that guests hire Sweeney for their next birthday party or bar mitzvah.
“Now that she is no longer going to be my boss, I don’t know why I’m here,” the ABC late-night host remarked at one point. “Oh, that’s right, the children.”
Kimmel brought his roast to an end with a prayer for the outgoing executive, bringing Dancing With the Stars host Tom Bergeron onstage.
“Dear Lord, please take care of Anne as she makes this terrible decision,” said Kimmel, bowing his head. “I don’t know what the hell she’s doing either. Pardon the language. She’s a very sick woman. Amen.”
Sweeney, who focuses her personal philanthropy on children, recently officiated the adoption of four-year-old Desiree Cornejo, who was diagnosed with spina bifida. Maria Shriver, who was accompanied by her brother Bobby Shriver, presented the National Champion for Children Award to Sweeney, who has been a close friend for close to 20 years, reminding her that everyone is in her corner.
“I hope tonight, in this great room that is filled to capacity, that you will take a deep breath and you will pause and you will allow the good that you have done, most importantly the good that you are, [to] sink into your bones,” Shriver said.
As Sweeney accepted her award, she informed the audience that “this is not an intervention.” She called Desiree’s grandparents Zackery and Debra Cornejo “superheroes” for adopting their granddaughter. And she couldn’t resist plugging one of her ABC shows in the process.
“The Alliance for Children’s Rights also inspires me,” said Sweeney. “During the adoption ceremony, I learned what the Alliance means to so many. They’re like S.H.I.E.L.D. Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Sorry, I’ll get it out of my system.”
Garson was presented with the Francis M. Wheat Community Service Award by his 12-year-old son, Nathen, whom he adopted through the Alliance organization, which in turn inspired Garson’s character on White Collar to have a history as a foster child. Garson, who said he’s still waiting for a call from Dick Wolf, stressed the importance of showing children in the foster system the “sunshine” they need.
Other guests in attendance included actors Betsy Brandt, Selena Gomez, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Denise Richards and cast members from ABC Family’s The Fosters, including Jake T. Austin and creator Peter Paige.
The Alliance for Children’s Rights provides legal guidance, training and advocacy to ensure neglected and impoverished children have stable homes, healthcare, education and other vital support. The 22nd annual dinner raised more than $1.3 million.
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