BET Chairman/CEO Debra Lee was in the hot seat Tuesday as the honoree of a roast at the Center for Communications’ gallows-humored annual luncheon at New York’s Pierre Hotel.
Lee is the 25th winner of the center’s Frank Stanton Award, which recognizes standouts in the media business.
In keeping with the humorous vibe of the gathering, Lee told the crowd: “When I was first asked to receive this honor, I thought, Oh my God, isn’t that the last thing Tom Freston heard before Sumner Redstone asked him to lunch?” Freston did get the Stanton prize in 2006, not long after he was fired as Viacom’s chief exec.
Taking off on BET’s pickup of “The Wire,” Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons ran through a list of shows that he proposed could make a similar transition. HBO’s “Entourage” would become “Posse,” “Lord of the Rings” turns into “Lord of the Bling,” and so on, reports Variety.
On a more serious note, Lee mentioned joining Katherine Graham as one of two women to earn the award but facetiously highlighted another bit of context for her award.
“When Barack Obama gets elected, it’s not only going to be the first black president,” she said. “It’s going to be the end of white presidents forever. Because you know what they say, once you go black …”