Schieffer Tunes In As Sensitive Rocker

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NEW YORK--When Sumner Redstone is the featured honoree at a gala at the Waldorf-Astoria, you can pretty much figure he could bring in just about any group of musicians he wanted to, to appear on stage.

After all, he is executive chairman of Viacom, which owns MTV Networks.

So, who stepped up in front of the footlights last Thursday night at the 2008 Paley Center for Media gala feting Redstone?

Bob Schieffer, the Fort Worth, Texas, native who held down the anchorman post in the interregnum at CBS between Dan Rather and Katie Couric.

“Thank you very much Mr. Redstone for giving me the chance to say something I've wanted to say all my life: I'm Bob Schieffer and this is my band!”

The band backing him up: Honky Tonk Confidential, which hails from Washington, D.C., a town Schieffer has covered for CBS for more than 30 years.

He told Redstone the first song would be “dedicated to you, but in the true tradition of our industry, it's all about me.”

The song: “How I Became A TV Anchorman.”

In the way Schieffer tells it, he started out pumping gas at a Stuckey's restaurant on I-95, when a fellow drives up in a red Corvette and asks to look deep into his eyes.

“I said, excuse me, bud, but before you intrude, I don't understand this interlude. I'm a cowboy from out in Lonesome Dove.”

Turns out the fellow is a news consultant scouting for new TV talent and, of course, makes Schieffer part of his “Eyewitness Band.”

In the recorded version (at www.honkytonkconfidential.com/cliptvanchorman.mp3), though, there was no claim that “I don't understand this interlude.” Instead, Schieffer says, “I ain't some Brokeback Mountain dude.”

“That's how we originally wrote it, but we thought it might be more sensitive to people's feelings to change the line, and we haven't sung that line for a very long time now,” band member Diana Quinn, who also works for CBS News, told The Wire in an e-mail message.

“I don't think we played it that way more than once or twice,' ” Schieffer said Friday by phone.

Coincidentally, Paramount Pictures, a Viacom company, was one of the production companies behind Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee's 2005 film that won a trio of Academy Awards, for exploring the complex relationship of two young ranch hands who fall in love. One of its stars, Heath Ledger, recently died of an accidental drug overdose at age 28.

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