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PAT O’BRIEN DELIVERS COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS AT COLUMBIA SCHOOL OF BROADCASTING

What’s in store for this sizzling class of 2006? Plus, what did Teri Hatcher tell me about her wild college days? And the Donald reveals to me the secrets to success after graduation. Hello everyone, I’m Pat O’Brien and welcome to commencement day.

That was the opening line delievered by Pat O’Brien, anchor of “The Insider,” in his commencement address at graduation ceremonies for The Columbia School of Broadcasting in Fairfax, Virginia on Saturday, where he told the 13 students in attendance to believe in themselves and announcing that he has the phone numbers of celebrities such as Kathy Griffin and Danny Bonaduce.

The following is the transcript from Pat O’Brien’s commencement address.

It’s great to be back here at the Columbia School of Broadcasting. It takes me back to the time I spent in this wonderful institution. Those were the best five weeks of my life, and I’m sure these last few weeks have been fantastic for all of you. I learned a lot about the world and about myself. I’ll never forget the words of our Dean, Kenny, on our graduation day. He said, “Pat, you need to pay the $300 you still owe, or you won’t get your stupid certificate.” Kenny’s words ring so true today because he was talking about taking responsibility.

Now that you’re stepping into the real world, you’ll have more responsibilities. For instance, when I recently sat down to interview Lindsay Lohan about her hilarious movie, “Just My Luck,” which also stars the hunky Chris Pine, I had the great responsibility of making sure my producer came up with questions that would play off the theme of the movie. Lohan plays Ashley Albright, a confident young Manhattanite with incredibly good luck who magically swaps fortunes with Chris Pine’s character, a guy plagued with perennially bad luck, after kissing him on the dance floor at a masquerade ball. So I asked Lindsay — get this — if she had any superstitions. She never got to answer that question because she threw up. Yes, she threw up in her mouth. I’m not sure what’s going on with her, but the important thing is that I asked the right questions, and the lighting was perfect. I have this great lighting guy, Jared something, who has worked with me for over 30 years.

Part of succeeding in the real word is constantly asking questions. The more you ask, the more you know. You have to ask the right questions like, “What was it like to shoot ‘Casino Royale?’” Or “What was it like to work with Robin Williams in ‘RV?’” You have to ask questions that illicit answers. Those are the best types of questions.

So I know you’re all waiting to hear what Teri Hatcher and the Donald told me. The answers are coming up.

Graduates, life in the real world is not only about responsibility but also about coping with tragedy. As the host of “The Insider,” which makes up the exciting one-hour block of entertainment with “Entertainment Tonight” — check your local listings — I have had to go on the air to deliver disastrous news to the American public. Do you remember where you were when Brad and Jen broke up? Of course you do. Despite my indescribable grief, I courageously went on the air that afternoon, choking back tears, to tell the world that Brad and Jen were no more. I’m sorry everyone. This is still very raw and emotional for me. They had so much promise, and to watch a relationship be cut short like that is truly tragic. It was a horrific historical moment, and I take comfort in knowing that I was there to console the American people with the way I delivered the somber news. I said, “Brad and Jen. The Breakup! It’s over! Who should they date next?” Let’s all take a moment of silence to remember the end of Brad and Jen.

Thank you.

Dear Graduates, I must tell you that humor is also an important part of life, especially when dealing with people. So when you’re out there going on those job interviews, don’t forget to use humor. I remember when I went to my first job interview, and there was this real conservative woman who was about to grill me. After saying hello, I quickly broke the ice with a joke. I asked her, “How can you tell when a women is having a bad day? She has her tampon behind her ear and she can’t find her cigarette.” Am I right, graduates? Using appropriate humor at the right moment is critical to your success. I didn’t get that job for reasons unknown, but years later I would tell the same joke to Mary Hart and eventually got the job as the host of “The Insider” — check your local listings.

You’ll need humor to deal with the people who will make your life challenging. I’m talking about people like my father. He didn’t believe in me. When I graduated, I told him that I wanted to be a television anchor. He laughed at me, and said that I was useless, and that I would only wind up on a harebrained show delivering inconsequential news. Who’s laughing now, Dad? Let me tell you another thing: it’s not only family members who will challenge you, but also people like the lawyers for a woman who doesn’t appreciate romantic messages on her voice mail.

In closing, I’d like to tell you that I have the cell phone numbers of hundreds of celebrities. People like Danny Bonaduce , Kathy Griffin and Super Dave Osbourne. That shows you how far I’ve gone in life and in my career.

I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes. “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to the end, requires some of the same courage which a soldier needs.”

Those are the words of the immortal John Tesh. God bless his soul.

Now, as for Teri Hatcher and the Donald, I’ll have that story at next year’s commencement.

Good night, everybody.


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