“I owe everything to him right now. He changed my life and my family’s life and I will forever be indebted to him for giving me such an opportunity,” James Corden said at the Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Gala in New York Wednesday evening. “So when he asked me to host this event, I felt proud and honored.”
Corden was talking about his boss, CBS Corp. chief executive officer Leslie Moonves, who was being recognized for his achievements. Moonves arrived at Alice Tully Hall alongside his wife, Julie Chen, and children.
“I was an unemployed actor walking the streets of New York and to think that a few years later — quite a few — I’d be getting an honor from Lincoln Center is pretty cool,” Moonves told Variety.
The event paid tribute to his contribution and dedication to the arts, as well as the television series, award shows, and special presentations that the network has brought to life throughout the years.
“His career that he’s had is one that deserves to be celebrated on many nights like this,” said Corden, who affectionately serenaded Moonves on stage with a parody of “Les Miserables,” aptly renamed “Les Moonveserables.”
The evening’s performances were kept secret up until showtime and it was worth the suspense, as many big names showed up to share their love and appreciation for Moonves.
Hollywood legends, and longtime CBS pals, Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett reunited on stage and reminisced about their friendship and the start of their careers.
“We want to say thank you Les and thank you CBS for contributing significantly to who we became and also for your dedication to the American Songbook,” said Andrews.
Other performances included Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, LL Cool J, Paul Shaffer and The World’s Most Dangerous Band, Stephen Colbert, Christine Baranski (“The Good Wife”) and Patina Miller (“Madam Secretary”).
The audience even enjoyed a taste of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” from actor Christopher Jackson, who currently stars in the CBS show “Bull.”
The event raised $3 million and the proceeds will support the American Songbook series and Lincoln Center’s other performance festivals, as well as its educational and community initiatives.
Lincoln Center’s American Songbook is in its 18th season, which runs February through May.