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Tom Cruise exacts his revenge, roasts Matt Lauer

October 24, 2008 |  1:40 pm

Cruiselauercp Meredith Vieira and Katie Couric cracked raunchy jokes about “Today” host Matt Lauer as he was roasted today by the Friars Club, but the hit of the afternoon was the surprise guest who interrupted the proceedings: Tom Cruise.

The actor, who had a testy on-air exchange with Lauer in 2005 over his criticism of the use of antidepressants, referred to the incident as “that little thing” and insisted the two were 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.

Lauer also counseled NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker to replace Jay Leno with Conan O’Brien on “The Tonight Show” and suggested that Couric, his longtime “Today” co-host, take the anchor job on the “CBS Evening News,” Cruise said.

“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 Zucker, Al Roker, Brian Williams and Martha Stewart lampooned Lauer with bawdy swipes.

“Matt Lauer is so bland that his nickname in high school was Matthew Lauer,” said comedian Jeffrey Ross in one of the milder comments. “Who else can make Al Roker seem ghetto?”

For her part, Couric told Lauer that Cruise had just been jealous of him when they sparred on the air. “He wanted to be the only handsome man in the room that everyone thinks is gay,” she said, adding that she once caught Lauer making out with himself in the mirror.

Couric, who said that she hadn’t “gotten this much applause since CBS executives heard that I was leaving,” told Zucker that she’s been reassured by her former network’s prime-time ratings.

“Third place isn’t so bad,” she quipped.

When it was his turn, the NBC chief 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.’”

Williams ended his tribute by noting that it had been a long time since Lauer had been targeted with so much “vile and hatred, because it’s been a long time since Katie left.”

— Matea Gold

Photo courtesy Reuters

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