They weren't watching the Oscars, but it wasn't long before Ada and Thomas Zarobinski heard that best-actor winner Adrien Brody mentioned their son, a U.S. soldier stationed in Kuwait, in his acceptance speech.
The Queens, N.Y., couple was listening to news of the war in Iraq when a neighbor told them that Brody, who received the award for playing a Holocaust survivor in "The Pianist," ended his remarks with a goodwill message for Tommy Zarobinski.
"There are feelings of both happiness and sadness," Ada Zarobinski told Newsday in Tuesday's editions. "Because I wish my son was here to see Adrien's success."
Brody received a standing ovation for his emotional speech, in which he urged the audience to "pray for a peaceful and swift resolution" to the war.
"And I have a friend from Queens who's a soldier in Kuwait right now, Tommy Zarobinski, and I hope you and your boys make it back real soon," he said.
Brody, who grew up in Woodhaven, and Zarobinski, a native of Rego Park, attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts together, where Brody studied acting and Zarobinski studied drawing.
The two, who grew up like brothers, "would cut school together and do all sorts of pranks — just like regular kids," said Thomas Zarobinski Sr.
"Here he is making the Oscars for the first time in his life, and he's talking about my son," Zarobinski told the Daily News. "That's amazing."
Tommy Zarobinski, 31, joined the Army National Guard in 1996 and has been stationed in Kuwait since November, Newsday said.