Joan Rivers had made a point of telling me she doesn’t like last-minute changes. That evening, she had to live with me whispering what came next… and next… in her right ear, as our bevy of stand-up old pros did their stock routines and shtick. When Mayor Koch’s turn to speak came, it was impossible to tell whether he was retaliating for a roast that never was or speaking off the cuff: either way, he just sounded like Ed Koch. Privately, the event concluded, the ballroom emptied, the New York-tongued mayor warmly expressed his gratitude and his “admiration” to us.
In the early ‘90s, I made a 60-minute documentary about a life-threatening new wave of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. When I described it to the mayor, he asked for a copy. In time, I received a letter from him, excerpts from which follow:
I finally got to watch your video “Freedom To Hate.” It’s superb. …Why WNET hasn’t shown it is a mystery to me. …If you need a recommendation, you can always use my name as someone who saw it and thought it was superb.