FishbowlNY was in attendance at the packed Mandarin Oriental Hotel ballroom last night overlooking a very green Central Park for the Overseas Press Club‘s annual presentation of awards. And it was a mix of seriousness, sadness, melancholy and — thanks to Brian Williams and a pair of cartoonists — humor. Williams was the master of ceremonies, and did a deft job of segues considering many award-winners had lost colleagues while chasing their award-winning stories. Williams offered such light anecdotes as a sketchy overseas plane flight with Geraldo and Peter Jennings (who was honored in a candle lighting before the awards portion) and a generational moment with a young iPod-rocking producer in the halls of NBC. (When Williams asked the young producer if they’d call the eventual capability of iPods to snag live broadcasts “radio,” his question elicited a blank stare and was probably “still floating over Rockefeller Center.”)
Perhaps the evening’s lightest moment, however, came when editorial cartoonists Clay Bennett and Mike Luckovich critiqued each other’s work in what could’ve been a seasoned comedy routine. Seriously.
Also in attendance: The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest (whose award Williams joked was a prelude to an Academy Award), Time magazine editor Jim Kelly, Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker, Dan Rather, honoree Ted Koppel and many, many others.