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Scene Last Night: Robert Iger, Billy Crystal at Sept. 11 Dinner

9/11 Memorial Benefit Dinner
Robert A. Iger, CEO and president, Walt Disney Co., with his college roommate Jay Fischler and Teresa Fischler. The Fischlers, firefighters, responded to the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Billy Crystal last night described some changes since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Ten years ago, Lindsay Lohan was just stealing our hearts,” he said on a white-carpeted stage with white backdrop at Cipriani Wall Street. “Ten years ago, same-sex marriage was the same sex, every night.”

The comedian’s well-received remarks came at the fourth annual 9/11 Memorial Benefit Dinner, organized by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The event struck a delicate balance between humor and solemnity. Robert A. Iger, president and chief executive officer of Walt Disney Co., said, while accepting an award for corporate service, that the memorial “marks one of our darkest hours. It also honors our strength and resilience.” Iger is a board member of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

Kozo Takahashi, chairman and CEO of Sharp Electronics Corp., also came to the stage as his company was honored as a Global Partner for providing video panels for the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site.

Among the more than 1,000 guests seated at square tables decorated with white hydrangeas were New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; former New York Governor George Pataki; Stacy Polley, a partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.; Paul Britton, founder of Capstone Investment Advisors, whose offices at 7 World Trade Center look out on the memorial; and architect Maya Lin and sculptor Martin Puryear, members of the Memorial Design Competition Jury responsible for choosing the design by Michael Arad and Peter Walker.

‘Water Is Life’

Dhani Jones, a professional football player, arrived via subway, wearing a black suit and a “Reunite” bow-tie made by a nonprofit he founded, Bow Tie Cause. Sales of the tie benefit the memorial and museum. They are $57 and available on the website The memorial opens Sunday on the tenth anniversary of the attacks; the museum is in development.

Jones visited the memorial yesterday, where the pools are positioned on the footprints of the World Trade Center towers.

“The water is life pouring into tragedy, breeding new life,” Jones said.

Moving forward was the prevailing theme.

“This is a happy event,” said John C. Whitehead, former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs Group. “We’ve rebuilt in a wonderful way.”

Samuel Di Piazza, a vice chairman of Citigroup and board member of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, said the event is “fun and thoughtful. This is not a place to mourn.”

Crystal on Economy

Crystal, also a board member of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, had fun with the distress in the U.S. economy.

“I love coming down to Wall Street and visiting where my money used to be,” he said.

“Don’t think of the money the Chinese have given us as loans,” he continued. “Think of it as takeout.”

Joseph C. Daniels, president and CEO of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, said the dinner would break the previous record of “north of $3 million.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the chairman of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

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