Variety’s Salute to Service: Honoring Those Who Stand Up

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Whenever I see Lee and Bob Woodruff, I know the event is going to be serious, and I’m going to laugh. At Variety’s inauguralSalute to Service luncheon this week at Cipriani on Broadway, the brainchild of Gerry Byrne, vice chair of Penske Media and a Vietnam War veteran, Bob Woodruff got up to introduceCaroline Hirsch of Caroline’s, the city’s premier comedy club. Their relationship goes back to when she saw a documentary about him, a correspondent who was severely injured in the Iraq War. She was looking for a way to help those returning from combat and they, with Lee Woodruff and Andrew Fox, began their annual Stand Up for Heroes event. Soon Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, and others, came to deliver the most outrageous monologues to benefit veterans and those who serve. What started at Town Hall, grew to the Beacon Theater, and now takes place at Madison Square Garden. It is a never-to-be-missed evening, with the most important attendees, our military and their families.

Honored too at Variety’s luncheon were ABC news chief Martha Raddatz (author of The Long Road Home, basis of the National Geographic series), author Wes Moore (The Other Wes Moore and The Work), actor Rob Riggle (Warner Bros.’ 12 Strong) and director Mikal Vega (NBC’s The Brave). All have spent time, as correspondents or in combat, and all are honored for their commitment to those who serve. Jeff Glor m.c.’d. Presenting the award to Rob Riggle, John Oliverjust could not resist noting the fabulous venue with its painted ceilings, a cavernous space with vaulted arches trimmed in gold. Imagine the Vatican if they served food, he quipped, and the laughs continued even as the call to help our veterans came loud and clear. Wes Moore summed up the spirit of the event: “I did not plan to be an advocate for the veteran community. I just had to. Thank you for your service should be the beginning of the conversation.”

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