Guest Post by Greg Ericson
MATT LAUER’S OFFICE SEXCAPADES KNOWN TO MEDIA ELITES, WHO ROARED WITH LAUGHTER OVER LEWD JOKES AT 2008 ‘ROAST’ – FOX NEWS
But if anyone doubts that New York’s media elite was aware of Lauer’s reputation, they should look no further than a top-secret “roast” of Lauer that took place in October 2008. The notorious event ─ now legendary in New York media circles ─ pushed the outer limits of sexist, racist, homophobic and obscene jokes — and left little doubt that Lauer’s colleagues knew NBC’s biggest star had a troubled marriage and a wandering eye. Lauer’s peccadillos, Joe Scarborough said, were not just known about. At the roast, they were celebrated.
“The whole theme was that he does the show and then he has sex with people, with employees,” Scarborough said. “So was this whispered behind closed doors? No. It was shouted from the mountaintops and everybody laughed about it.” The 2008 Friars Club roast took place at the New York Hilton and was attended by everyone from future President Donald Trump to TV legend Norman Lear to a constellation of New York’s media elite including Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, Nancy O’Dell and Howard Stern. Also on hand were numerous top executives from across the business and almost everyone who was anyone at NBC News. Fox News has confirmed many details of the roast with a media executive who attended, and has also drawn on the one contemporaneous account of the roast, which appeared in The Village Voice.
Speaker Martha Stewart joked, “I hear NBC executives call Matt the ‘Cock of the Rock’,” according to The Voice. Another of the roast’s speakers was current CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker ─ then the chairman of NBC Universal ─ who last week adamantly denied that he had any idea about Lauer’s in-office sexcapades. “It’s just good to see Matt up here and not under my desk,” Zucker said from the podium. “I don’t want to say Matt is a germophobe, but he’s the only guy I know who uses Purell both before and after he masturbates.” Zucker also made a pointed allusion to Lauer’s marital problems. “Matt was having some trouble at home with the wife,” he said. “He was sleeping on Bryant Gumbel’s couch.”
Lauer and Gumbel, a former “Today” host who is black, are known to be close friends. “What’s more boring than that?” Zucker joked. “Two white men watching golf.” “Today” co-host Al Roker was the “roastmaster” and Tom Cruise (who had famously feuded with Lauer on air over Scientology) made peace with a surprise appearance as a guest roaster. But while Cruise kept it relatively PG-13, once he finished, jokes focused on Lauer’s in-office sexcapades.
Then “Today” co-host Meredith Vieira was especially crude, making jokes about Lauer and Roker partaking in anal sex during the Turin Olympics, with Roker as the receiving partner. Former “Today” star Katie Couric went next, reading a David Letterman-style Top 10 list of facts about Lauer.
Among the digs, “No. 10 – According to his wife, he’s not really an early riser, if you know what I mean.”
But the most cringe-worthy comments, in hindsight, were made by Lauer himself, who spoke at the end of the roast. The “Today” star alluded to sex with two former colleagues, Couric and Curry. “Let me just say that I saw that colon a lot before the rest of you saw it,” Lauer said in an anal sex joke about Couric (who famously underwent a colonoscopy on air). But the twice-married Lauer wasn’t finished joking about sleeping with female contemporaries. “What’s with all the small-d— jokes?
It was fun to look over and see Ann Curry laughing… like she doesn’t know how big my d— really is,” Lauer said, wrapping up an event that The Village Voice called “three hours of d— jokes.” The Voice, which had managed to have a spy secretly write “down the dirtiest jokes on a notepad under the table,” was the only publication to write anything about the top-secret roast, despite the fact that the room was filled with media luminaries. Cameras and recorders were strictly banned — and this was before iPhones and their audio recorders had become ubiquitous.
Memories of the roast must be especially awkward for the various NBC executives now claiming they had no idea about Lauer’s reputation for sex harassment of women. “This was a comedic roast, but there was clearly a vein of truth running through all those jokes,” said a media executive who was in attendance. “You had Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira and Jeff Zucker all standing up there joking about his sex in the office, his kinkiness. They all knew.” NBC News fired Lauer last week for inappropriate sexual behavior, and in the ensuing days, NBC News’ top bosses Andy Lack and his deputy, Noah Oppenheim, have claimed they had no prior knowledge of Lauer’s conduct.
Their denials have raised eyebrows within NBC and out, considering that both executive have deep ties to Lauer going back years. Lack and Oppenheim are so far resisting appointing an outside, independent investigator to look into who knew what about Lauer’s behavior, preferring to control the inquiry themselves. The New York Post speculated over the weekend that Lack is seeking to blame Oppenheim for the debacle. Oppenheim himself told NBC staff that following his “review,” anyone still working at NBC found to have known about Lauer’s behavior and not done anything would be punished “in the most severe way possible.” But a shot at Lauer’s in-office relationship with Curry, who was in the room, got the biggest laugh of Couric’s routine. “No. 2 – He loves to eat Curry,” she said as Curry (sitting in the audience) went pale and the crowd roared with laughter. “What? Indian food! What’s wrong with you people?” Comic Bob Saget eventually took the stage to offer Lauer some marriage advice:
“Do what I’m doing, Matt. Come into the Dark Side. My next wife hasn’t even been born yet.”
Another comedian ─ one attendee believes it was comedian Jeff Ross ─ made racist jokes about Lauer using a naked Roker on all fours as his coffee table. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried was so obscene that Fox News can’t even publish a highly expurgated version of his material, but part of his racist routine – filled with Asian sex jokes about Ann Curry –included detailed remarks about Curry’s genitals.
MATT LAUER’S ROAST: TOM CRUISE, KATIE COURIC, AND 3 HOURS OF DICK JOKES – VILLAGE VOICE
Just got back from the Hilton in midtown after three hours of dick and pussy jokes from some of the biggest stars of TV and film. Over plates of rubbery chicken, with Howard Stern in the audience, with Aretha Franklin doing the most amazing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner ever (and while playing the piano herself), and with Abe Vigoda sitting on the dais and managing to stay somewhat alive, the afternoon’s Friar’s Roast did not disappoint. Cameras and recording devices were not allowed, but we managed to write down the dirtiest jokes on a notepad under the table.
Without further ado: Lauer’s Today buddy Al Roker was “roastmaster” (ask your parents), but before he could even get warmed up, Tom Cruise made his “surprise” entrance (which was such a surprise, it had been broken on the Internet hours earlier). Cruise was brilliant casting, because the rollercoaster he’s been on the past few years over his space-alien-worshipping religion started over two big events — the way he jumped all over Oprah’s couch expressing his love for new babe Katie Holmes, and for a confrontational interview he did in 2005 with journalistic cupcake Lauer.
The Lauer interview in particular made Cruise not only appear unhinged, but it also made him look like a bully for the way he criticized Brooke Shields for turning to medication to deal with post-partum depression. (Those wacky Scientologists believe the best way to treat all maladies, particularly those of the mind, is with maximum adoration of 30’s pulp fiction author, L. Ron Hubbard.) But today, Cruise was not only a good sport for showing up to roast Lauer, he really killed. Guy was hilarious and self-deprecating. He joked about how he and Lauer were actually best buddies and went everywhere together, how they pranked Willard Scott, and how they talked on the phone four times a day (and he had slides to go with it).
“Matt has also given me some great advice,” Cruise said. Things in 2005 were going great, Cruise went on. He’d just made a movie with Spielberg, and he was going to go on Oprah’s show. Matt, he said, asked him what he was going to talk about. When he said he was going to talk about the movie, Matt made an “angry sigh,” Tom said. “Tom, don’t be glib,” Cruise said, imitating Laeur, “You’re in love. Go crazy. Trust me, people will love you for it.” Tom then explained that Lauer also gave advice to Jeff Zucker (the NBC Universal CEO who was also sitting on the dais) to dump Leno, and Lauer also ran into OJ Simpson on the golf course and gave himadvice as well. “Juice. Look, if those guys got your shit in Vegas… don’t be a pussy, just go up to that hotel now and take it. Trust me, Juice, people will love you for it,” Cruise said as Lauer, and got big laughs. Cruise then said that his life is “going from international movie sets to amazing parties. And then from amazing parties to international movie sets.
But Matt, you found happiness doing the same thing every day.” The diminutive movie idol then turned to leave, and Lauer jumped to the microphone: “Can you stay? We can get you a booster seat.” Al Roker couldn’t help adding his own Cruise jab: “Tom can’t stay because the space ship has to leave soon.” Cue the knowing oohs and laughter from the audience. Tom, you were lovable but we all know you belong to the wackiest of sci-fi religions. Roker then threw out an observation that got another groan, pointing out two of the celebrities on the football-field-long dais. “Who looks more like a man, Clay Aiken or Dara Torres?” Ouch! “There are three things Matt and Sarah Palin have in common,” Roker continued. “They each spent $150,000 on clothes in a single season.
They were both screwed over by Katie Couric. And both wear women’s jeans.” Roker then introduced Martha Stewart, who looked pretty out of place at a Friar’s Roast. The closest she could get to raunch was saying that “I hear NBC executives call Matt the ‘Cock of the Rock.’” If she was tepid, Meredith Viera more than made up for it. Lauer’s Today costar started right in with, “That motherfucker Matt Lauer,” and got a big laugh. “I am amazed that I have time for this stupidity,” she said, pointing out that she does the Today show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, has three kids and a husband, and that’s a lot of balls to juggle. “Look at Katie Couric.
She juggled Matt’s balls for six years. That’s three years per ball.” (At this point, the spectacle of a TV personality doing this kind of material had the room of 1,900 rolling.) “She squeezed those suckers so tight, she left nothing for me. Thanks, Katie,” Viera said, but she was just getting warmed up.
“People say he’s so prim and proper, like he’s got a stick up his ass. It’s not a stick, my friends, it’s Al Roker’s dick.” After showing some slides from Beijing, with Lauer and Roker prancing in tights, she added: “Let’ just say Al puts the ‘meat’ in ‘meteorologist.” “I don’t know if you knew this about him, but Matt is a lefty,” she continued. “Which is precisely why NBC hired him.” (Oh, the McCain camp is going to love that one.)
“Let’s focus on Matt’s numerous achievements in journalism,” she said with the briefest of pauses. “OK, that’s done.” She then congratulated him, and said, “I’ll see you Monday, asshole.” Katie Couric was next. “I haven’t heard this much applause since CBS executives heard I was leaving,” she cracked. “There are 1900 people here, which is about the biggest audience I’ve had since I moved to CBS.” Also: “Al Roker, Obama’s second favorite weatherman after Bill Ayers.” And: “It’s great that one of Barack Obama’s political advisers could make it here today. Ladies and gentlemen, Brian Williams.” And as for Sarah Palin’s $150,000 on clothes?
“In Eliot Spitzer dollars that’s three hookers and a pony.” On that Cruise interview, and why it pained Lauer: “He wanted to be the only good-looking man in the room everyone thinks is gay.” She then did a Letterman-style Top Ten Things About Matt which were fairly funny. Some highlights: “10. According to his wife, he’s not really an early riser, if you know what I mean.” 7. When Katie did the colonoscopy live on television, doctors found Matt’s head. And the best: “2. He loves to eat Curry.” The room loved that one, and Ann Curry blanched. Great moment. “What, Indian food! What’s wrong with you people!”
Katie said. Couric was followed by Zucker, who got off a few zingers of his own. He reminisced about Bryant Gumbel leaving the Today show. “There was the time Matt stayed for a while at Bryant’s house. That must have been exciting. Two white guys talking golf.” And: “It’s just good to see Matt up here and not under my desk.” And: “I don’t want to say Matt is a germophobe, but he’s the only guy I know who uses Purell both before and after he masturbates.” The inimitable Richard Belzer then followed Zucker, and as is his trademark, abused the audience as much as he told jokes. And the best moment came when he tried to tell his final joke and kept screwing it up.
“It’s not all fluff and fluffing,” he said about Lauer’s lightweight reputation. Lauer had also done serious reporting, he continued. “Who could forget the time when he tracked down the exact membership…” And that was the wrong word. So he started the joke over again. Five times. Finally, he dragged Lauer himself up to deliver the punch line: “Who could forget the time when he tracked down the exact measurement of Ann Coulter’s dick,” Lauer said to a roar from the audience. Another great moment. Comedian Jeffrey Ross was on next, and didn’t disappoint.
“I’ve never been to a show where the fat lady sings at the beginning,” he said. And Aretha Franklin returned the favor with her middle finger. Ross on Jeff Zucker: “How do you make fun of a guy who looks like his penis?” And, to groans: “I haven’t laughed this little since we roasted Terry Schiavo.” NBC anchor Brian Williams then approached the microphone after being called up by Roker — how would he do after a killer like Ross? “Thanks, Al. It was great to see you this morning in spandex, as it’s always great to see your vagina,” Williams said. About Lauer: “I often say, a lot of the clothing you see him wear on the Today show is also available for men.”
On the economy: “It’s so complicated! We just say ‘it’s a crisis.’” On Zucker: “He’s doubled our stock. You can now buy two shares where before you could only buy one.” Williams was followed by a guy who had won some kind of roasting contest. He had one good line: “We all know Joe the Plumber, and Joe Six-Pack. Well, now we know Joe Blow. Ladies and gentlemen, Clay Aiken.” Bob Saget was next, and he noted that, like Lauer, he’s 52. But Lauer is married and Saget is divorced: “Do what I’m doing, Matt. Come into the Dark Side. My next wife hasn’t even been born yet. Saget then went for the raunch. “People say if I could blow myself, I wouldn’t leave the house.
But if I could blow myself, I would leave the house. I’d want people to see that shit.” But for pure raunch, Saget was outdone by Gilbert Gottfried. He had recently given Today’s Asian-American co-host Ann Curry some lessons in stand-up comedy. “People ask me, does Ann Curry’s pussy go sideways?” Gilbert said to gasps. But he was just getting warmed up. Curry was dying as he started a joke, “Ann Curry told me this one. Two sisters.
One sister is eating out the other sister’s asshole.” Curry is dying. “The first sister is eating out the second sister’s asshole, and the second sister is playing the trombone with her pussy…” Believe me, the best part of that joke had already been told by that point.
He finished with: “How do you get a faggot to fuck a woman? Fill up her cunt with shit. Thank you.” Lauer finally, after a brief appearance by Pat Cooper, got his turn. “Oh my God. I almost invited my mother.” He then pointed out that at NBC they had obituaries completed and ready to roll on 11 of the people on the dais. And as for a December interview he has scheduled with Cruise and what happened the last time: “He pulls that shit again, I will fuck him up.”
On the Friars: “They guaranteed me that nothing I said would be seen or heard, so I feel like I’m anchoring the CBS news.” As for rumors of romance with Katie: “Let me just say that I saw that colon a lot before the rest of you saw it.” And: “What’s with all the small-dick jokes? It was fun to look over and see Ann Curry laughing… like she doesn’t know how big my dick really is.” And finally: “As hard as I may try, I will never forget this afternoon.”