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Tom Cruise helps roast Matt Lauer

October 25, 2008|Matea Gold | Gold is a Times staff writer

NEW YORK — Meredith Vieira and Katie Couric cracked raunchy jokes about "Today" host Matt Lauer on Friday as he was roasted by the New York Friars Club, but the hit of the annual charity event was a surprise guest: Tom Cruise.

The actor, who famously sparred with Lauer in a 2005 interview about Cruise's criticism of the use of antidepressants, insisted the two were actually close friends.

Cruise said Lauer "has given me some great advice," such as the time the actor was going to make an appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Lauer told him to talk about his relationship with now-wife Katie Holmes, he said.

"Your love is inspiring, go crazy, people will love you for it," Cruise said the "Today" anchor advised him.

"Lose my number, you glib putz," the actor told the broadcaster, who spent much of the afternoon laughing embarrassedly.

"Can you stay?" Lauer responded as Cruise headed off stage. "We'll get you a booster seat."

Most of the afternoon's jokes were not as tame, as colleagues such as Al Roker, Brian Williams and Martha Stewart lampooned Lauer with bawdy swipes.

In between jabs at Lauer, the roasters poked fun at one another.

Couric, who said that she hadn't "gotten this much applause since CBS executives heard that I was leaving," told NBC Chief Executive Jeff Zucker that she's been reassured by her former network's prime-time ratings.

"Third place isn't so bad," she quipped.

Minutes later, Zucker shot back: "When they asked me to come speak in front of several hundred people, I thought they wanted me to anchor the 'CBS Evening News.' "


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