NEW YORK — A week after their “rumble” in Washington, Jon Stewart invited Bill O’Reilly back on stage in New York, this time to debate MSNBC‘s liberal host Chris Matthews — while both inhaled helium from red and blue balloons.
“Sounds like me,” quipped a squeaky-voiced Matthews to CNN’s John King, the brief debate’s moderator, who instructed O’Reilly, “You inhale, they decide.”
This time, the cause was Stewart’s fourth Night of Too Many Stars benefit, supporting autistic children and teens with education and training programs. The event, taped Saturday night at the Beacon Theater, will air Oct. 21 on Comedy Central, with celebrities manning phone banks for call-in donations live at The Daily Show studio. Three previous efforts (the last in 2010) have raised $14 million.
Like O’Reilly and Matthews’ appearance, celebrity participants were loosely organized around unlikely pairings of “rivals” or opposites you’d never expect to share the spotlight, “who will appear together on this stage for this cause,” said Stewart, the evening’s omnipresent emcee.
Alongside event supporter Tommy Hilfiger, Ben Stiller showed up as Derek Zoolander — the preening, clueless model from his 2001 film — to hawk a phony benefit item, the 2013 “End of Syphilisation” calendar. (“It’s the last year of the Maya Rudolph calendar; the acropolis is coming,” he warned.)
Others included Stephen Colbert and a costumed “liberal” bear; Carly Rae Jepsen and actor Harvey Keitel, who alternated on her hit Call Me Maybe (she sang her verses, while he offered hilariously spoken verses); and a stick of butter (later revealed as Kevin Bacon) vying for the affection of Paula Deen with a stalk of broccoli (Liev Schreiber). “I saw her deep-fry a Sara Lee cheesecake while it was still in the box,” Bacon said.
An emotional highlight was a duet of Firework performed by Katy Perry and Jodi DiPiazza, a pre-teen autistic girl from Rochelle Park, N.J. (who also played piano), which left Stewart and audience members choked up.
And among, um, unique experiences auctioned off to the Beacon audience were Al Pacino, for an appearance in a family’s holiday-card photo; Seth Rogen, to pee alongside in the Beacon restroom as a camera crew followed (“we can share a urinal if you bid high”); and Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, to be best friends with the winning bidders for the evening. (“Remember, this is a night that’s going to last an hour!” exulted Stewart.)
Comedians Louis CK, JB Smoove and Hannibal Buress were among other participants, and Fred Armisen, Jimmy Kimmel, Julianne Moore, Jerry Seinfeld and Matthew Broderick are scheduled to man the phones for live TV wrap-arounds next weekend.
But not before O’Reillly and Matthews got off some scripted zingers: “You, Bill, give everyone’s crazy uncle something to say on Thanksgiving,” Matthews said. O’Reilly, who called Matthews the product “if Dennis the Menace and Alex Skarsgard had a child,” said, “You constantly sound like a man falling down the stairs,” and “someone who takes the pressure off his guests, by doing all the talking.”