×

Joan Rivers Shows Soft Side at Heller Awards

Joan Rivers and William Shatner slapped on their roasting hats for the 12th annual Heller Awards, presented by the Talent Managers Association, to present awards to and appreciate the talent managers of Hollywood.

Rivers attended the event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, along with a crowd of others in the industry, to speak about her manager, Larry Thompson, who was receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award for the night. Unsurprisingly, she did so with tongue firmly in cheek.

“When I first met Larry, I was an Emmy award winning actress on a talk show. I was headlining in Vegas. I was in four plays on Broadway,” she said. “And today, because of Larry’s guns and tutelage, I’m now on fucking basic cable. I try to sell the Midwest bracelets on QVC. That is the magic of Larry Thompson.”

However, she did take some time to get sentimental, even getting a little choked up at end of her speech.

“The only negative thing I can say is that I wish I had met him 20 years ago,” she said, as the two had only been working together for six years. “I keep thinking, ‘If I had known him 20 years ago, I wouldn’t be in a rented jacket.’”

Shatner also took the stage to speak on behalf of Thompson, who is his manager as well, and talked about their first meeting.

“The first thing I said to Larry Thompson when I was introduced to him was, ‘15% percent? Are you crazy?’” Shatner joked. “15% to the manager, 10% to the agent, 5% to the business guys, 50% to the government, and think about the ex-wives! If I work, I’m going to owe money.”

Thompson got his chance to counter their comments when he accepted the award after their speeches.

“I was so touched when they said yes, they would be a part of the evening,” Thompson said of Rivers and Shatner. “But now that I’ve actually heard their comments, I think they’re just eager to seize the opportunity to get even with me for hiring them to do the Comedy Central Roasts.”

Holly Robinson Peete of TV series “21 Jump Street” and “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” was able to poke fun at an honoree she knew quite well. Her manager mother, Dolores Robinson, received the Pat McQueeny Award. Robinson Peete told the audience of a trip from Philadelphia to Hollywood when she was a child, driving cross country and running into some difficulties.

“She made me leave my hamster in the Mojave Desert, where I was told she would be better off and lead a better life,” she said. “How much stress can a nine year old take? I’m still in therapy over that hamster.”

Of course, she also praised her mother’s skills and thanked her for her help in Hollywood.

“You are the original momager,” she added. “Forget Kris Jenner.”

Some time was set aside for honoring the person for which the Heller awards were named, Seymour Heller. Heller died in 2001, but in his life represented big stars including Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Glen Gray and, perhaps most famously, Liberace. Though unable to be there in person, Regis Philbin appeared on video to reminisce about when Liberace came on his talk show, and the encouraging response from Heller.

“We had a terrific time, lots of laughs and after the show, Seymour Heller, his manager, asked if we could have breakfast the next day,” Philbin recounted. “He told me he had never seen Liberace come across so well in a TV interview. He predicted great things for me.”

More Scene

  • Mj Rodriguez, Alexis Martin Woodall, Ryan

    Peabody Winners Talk Empowered Women and Social Justice Challenges on Red Carpet

    The theme on the red carpet at the 78th annual Peabody Awards? Empowering women. On Saturday, Peabody winners gathered at Cipriani Wall Street, and one of the hot topics on everyone’s mind was the wave of female empowerment spreading across the industry. From Peabody’s Career Achievement Award recipient Rita Moreno to shows like ‘Killing Eve’ [...]

  • CAP D'ANTIBES, FRANCE - MAY 18:

    Cannes: Robert Pattinson, Shailene Woodley Attend Starry Vanity Fair Party

    It’s true what they say about Batman being a loner. On Saturday night, Robert Pattinson made his first public appearance since being cast as the new Dark Knight at this year’s Vanity Fair Party at the Cannes Film Festival. But while all the other A-list guests mingled and worked the crowd at the restaurant of [...]

  • Taron Egerton Cannes Film Festival 2019

    Taron Egerton Addresses ‘Rocketman’ Comparisons to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ Takes Subtle Jab at Bryan Singer

    Taron Egerton says that he’s flattered by comparisons between his Elton John musical “Rocketman” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” last year’s smash hit about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. “I’m proud that we’re mentioned in the same breath,” says Egerton, who plays John in the upcoming “Rocketman,” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to a five-minute standing [...]

  • Ethan Hawke, Bobby Cannavale and Griffin

    BAM Gala Marks Leadership Change, Celebrates Brooklyn as 'Cultural Center of New York'

    Wednesday’s annual gala celebrating the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) served as a poignant moment of transition for the New York stalwart of contemporary performance. As long-time artistic director Joe Melillo, who along with Harvey Lichtenstein transformed BAM into a vanguard of progressive art, prepares to pass the torch to new leadership, gathered patrons and [...]

  • Dua Lipa Tom Jones

    Dua Lipa and Tom Jones to Perform at amfAR's Cannes Gala (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety‘s Marc Malkin is on the scene at the Cannes Film Festival. Get the scoop on all the news, parties and more straight from the Croisette below. AmfAR’s upcoming Cannes gala is shaping up quite nicely. Sources tell Variety that the evening will feature performances by Dua Lipa and Tom Jones. And they’re not the only [...]

  • "Deadwood" Cast Describes Emotional Homecoming on

    'Deadwood' Cast Describes Emotional Homecoming on the Historic Set

    The phrase “Welcome the f— back” marks the billboards and posters for the return of “Deadwood,” but that sentiment doesn’t just apply to the audience. Returning to the town of Deadwood was a homecoming of sorts for the cast and crew of the HBO show, who shared that stepping back into the meticulously recreated late-1800s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content