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Tina Fey makes Twain event a record evening

By Jacqueline Trescott

At Tuesday night's salute to comedian Tina Fey, the chairman of the Kennedy Center announced that this year's Mark Twain event raised $1.3 million, the best ever for what is now a fall Washington ritual.

fey
Tina Fey arrives at the Kennedy Center Tuesday evening. (AP) | PHOTOS

David M. Rubenstein, the center's chairman, looks very much like comedian Steve Martin, or Martin is beginning to look like Rubenstein. Both are tall, stand very still, and have a shock of white hair. Both took center stage during the evening.

And Rubenstein showed he knows how to deliver a good line.

"From the time it was announced that Tina Fey would be this year's Mark Twain recipient, the demand for tickets has been beyond anything the Kennedy Center has seen for this event. And that demand was not centered just in Washington. It came from Florida, and from Maine, and from California, and from Alaska--yes, there was, for some reason, a good deal of demand from Alaska," Rubenstein said.

The sold-out audience erupted with laughs and applause because everyone on the planet knows that Fey does a dead-on impression of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and at times, the former vice presidential candidate didn't appreciate the portrayal. Palin finally accepted Fey's barbs as a tribute and even joined in the fun on "Saturday Night Live."

Fey was announced as the 13th winner of the Twain Prize for American Humor in May and tickets went on sale August 11. The show was sold-out that day, with the general public paying $50 to $120. A special donor package for $1000 included a pre-show dinner, the program with Steve Carell, Betty White and others, and a reception.

The $1.3 million supports the center's activities from education to performances.

Tuesday night's program of tributes and clips of Fey's career was taped by WETA-26 and will be broadcast Sunday night on PBS stations.

More on this story:

Fey accepts the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

Video: Comedians gather to honor Tina Fey

Photos: Tina Fey honored at Mark Twain Awards

By Jacqueline Trescott  | November 10, 2010; 11:08 AM ET
Tags:  david m. rubenstein, mark twain prize for american humor, tina fey  
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