ROBERT DE NIRO sent Denis Leary a surprise replacement when he was unable to attend the comedian's recent charity event - comedian Robin Williams.

Leary threw a benefit on 27 October (03) to help New York City firefighters at the Big Apple's plush HUDSON hotel, which he was expecting De Niro to attend.

But moments before the party started, De Niro left Leary a phone message saying he couldn't make it - but sent along MRS DOUBTFIRE star Williams as a surprise replacement.

When Leary asked Williams if he'd offer something to auction, the funnyman suggested, "How about a bike ride with me on a sunny day?"

Leary replied, "Who the f*** wants to ride a bike with you? Offer them a meal."

But Williams did even better by offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and a trip to the bathroom with him - and the offer pulled in $100,000 (GBP62,500).

Overall, the night proved to be a huge success, raising $700,000 (GBP437,500).

06/11/2003 09:49