Schieffer, Bennett join Redstone tribute


NEW YORK - A country-singing Bob Schieffer and a musical appearance by Tony Bennett were the big surprises Thursday night as the Paley Center for Media honored Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. chairman Sumner Redstone in its annual gala.

The star-studded event at the Waldorf Astoria hotel also featured myriad other industry heavyweights, including Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, Kim Cattrall and New York film commissioner Katherine Oliver.

CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves was on the West Coast for work. Charlie Rose, who jumped in as host for Jon Stewart, lauded Redstone as a man who " _fcksavedurl="">for Jon Stewart, lauded Redstone as a man who "has answered pretty much all the questions."

He also joked about the media pioneer's endless energy, saying when he asked him earlier if he still plays tennis, Redstone simply asked him when Rose wanted to play.

Schieffer said playing country music in Redstone's honor allows him to say something he has wanted to say for a very long time -- "I'm Bob Schieffer and this is my band!"

The anchor sang two songs to much applause and laughter.

The second started with the lyrics: "There are good stones and bad stones ... the Redstone is a gem."

At the end, Schieffer quipped in song: "You said bye to Tom Cruise, but you can't sell CBS News."

Dauman also lauded his boss for his vision. "We're never, ever bored," he joked.

Moonves, Dauman, Bill Clinton and Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons sang Redstone's praises in a video tribute.

In his speech Thursday night, Redstone signaled optimism about a fast resolution to the long-running writers strike. While he is "not a prognosticator," Redstone said he expects the strike to end quickly.

He gently nudged the two sides in the strike to sign off on a new labor contract based on the recent DGA agreement in the coming days.

"As the industry's recent negotiations with the Directors Guild demonstrate, calm, collected minds can agree on models that make sense for all concerned," Redstone said. "It is my and my peers' hope that we can extend the benefits of that accord to the members of the Writers Guild and put this difficult period behind us."

After much applause, the media and entertainment industry veteran went on to say any deal must be "fair to both sides."

Observers expect WGA membership meetings in Los Angeles and New York this weekend to pave the way to the long-sought labor contract.

Redstone also called on all in the industry to focus on the uniting rather than the divisive issues.

"In the end, content creators and content owners (media companies) are on the same side of the table," he told the Paley dinner. "Writers tell the story. We sell the story. We both seek the same goal: to optimize the value of that content over as many platforms as we can."

Redstone also drew comparisons between himself and the founder of the Paley Center and CBS, William Paley. Among other things, he quipped about how Paley brought the world such memorable characters as Archie Bunker, while his network empire created "Beavis & Butt-Head."