Friday, March 25, 2011

City Councilman Dennis Zine is stripped to the funny bone for a good cause

"You're actually the coolest guy in the City Council," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told City Councilman Dennis Zine on Thursday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel during the 14th annual political roast ? which is expected to bring in more than $500,000 for the American Diabetes Association. "You've worn a badge as an officer and public servant and so doing you've seen over the city's most treasured and valuable asset ? our celebrities."

BEVERLY HILLS - For a former cop who has appeared publicly in drag, City Councilman Dennis Zine would seem almost insusceptible to embarrassment.

But on Thursday night, the San Fernando Valley councilman saw his life stripped to the funny bone at what has become one of the year's most anticipated Los Angeles political events.

More than 900 politicians, businesspeople, lobbyists and police officers packed a ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the 14th annual political roast, which is expected to bring in more than $500,000 for the American Diabetes Association.

Los Angeles political and civic leaders poked fun at Zine's controversial relationship with lobbyist Veronica Becerra, his penchant for motorcycle-riding, his ordinances aimed at paparazzo and his past appearances at the roast as his blond alter-ego, Denise.

"You're actually the coolest guy in the City Council," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told Zine. "You've worn a badge as an officer and public servant and so doing you've seen over the city's most treasured and valuable asset - our celebrities.

"You and Britney Spears have more in common than blond hair, lipstick and hotpants!"

The mayor also said he had heard rumors that Zine has his sights on running for controller, a job currently held by Wendy Greuel, when he's termed out on the council.

"If anyone can fill Wendy's high heels," said Villaraigosa. "it's Dennis."

Comedian Jason Alexander appeared

as a special guest and led the evening's humorous onslaught of Zine, describing him as a having a "heart of gold who would do anything for anyone, especially the lobbyist" he was dating last year when his role in a city contract came into question.

Zine accepted the roast in good humor.

"In the past I've participated in this as a cheerleader, a flight attendant and a prostitute," said Zine. "I'm not thin-skinned.

"It's for a worthy cause, and if I can do something to get some laughs from people who are spending $500 to come to the event, then I'll do it."

The annual event draws almost everyone involved in city politics.

"It just kind of took off and now it's just an L.A. tradition," said lobbyist Arnie Berghoff who originated the roast in honor of his daughter Laura, who suffers from Type 1 diabetes.

Laura Berghoff, now 25, works for ESPN in New York.

Kat Von D Zoe Saldana Hilarie Burton Lorri Bagley Jamie Chung

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