“Apologies to Bill, Sean and Laura What’s-Her-Name”

By Chris Ariens Comment

Blogging from the 2008 NAB-RTNDA conference in Las Vegas.

NABRobbins_4.14.jpgAs he walked onto stage and into position for a Q and A session this morning, Tim Robbins said “I have a speech, but I don’t think I’m going to give it.” After some prodding from the audience the outspoken actor and critic of…well…many things, took to the podium, which left the moderator, former NY Daily News TV critic David Bianculli, now with NPR, almost speechless. Bianculli subsequently asked zero questions, but Robbins got his sarcasm-laced message across loud and clear.

The idea of an outspoken actor giving the keynote to the nation’s broadcasters was lost on many people, including Robbins himself. Speaking in the third person, he said “Mr. Robbins will speak about the challenges facing broadcasters and media delivery systems.” Adding, “I’m not sure what that fucking means.”

• To Radio & TV talkers and their criticism of his call for more weapons inspections in pre-war Iraq: “My apologies to Rush, Bill, Sean, Savage and Laura What’s-her-name. If I had known then what I know now, I never would have said such traitorous things.”

• To news execs: “Show me Night Rider drunk on the floor and I won’t care about a lack of health care for my kid.”

• To all: “We are in an abyss in our country. This is a nation divided, reeling from betrayal and economic hardship.”

Robbins joked that the “leftie obsession for information” was being drowned out by “Hollywood starlets getting out of cars without any panties on.” He called on “the leaders in this room” to “leave the focus groups behind” and look beyond the bottom line. “Instead of catering to gossips and voyeurs,” he said, “you can lift us up.”

The speech may have been too political for some, as a few of the 1,400 people in attendance walked out. But for the vast majority, evidenced by the standing ovation, Robbins hit his mark.