Variety Power of Women
The event: “Variety Power of Women,” presented Oct. 4 by Lifetime, honoring actors Nicole Kidman, Amy Poehler, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Hudson and Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal for their devotion to philanthropic causes.
Upstairs on the mezzanine of the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel, before the luncheon began, celebrities stopped into a room designated for red carpet photos. Given the caliber of star power of the honorees alone, the photographers were jammed inside wall-to-wall.
Very honestly, I had to congratulate Variety, too. Attracting so many A-listers – when it’s not even Aacademy Awards week - is quite a feat.
And although I expected Kidman and Theron to tower over me, their heights (5’11” and 5’10” respectively, plus high heels) still came as a surprise. Hudson at 5’9″ plus high heels looked pretty tall to me, too. Clearly, these were substantial women, in more ways than one.
The VIP Guests: Certainly some men attended the luncheon but by and large, this was a gathering of Hollywood power females, described by Amy Poehler – as she wrapped up her remarks – as “beautiful, bossy, right-amount-of-crazy women.”
Hosted by Aisha Tyler of “Whose Line is It Anyway,” the audience included actors Jessica Alba, Maria Bello, Amanda Righetti, Shaun Robinson, Ana Ortiz, Rebecca Wisocky, Katie Lowes, Darby Stanchfield, Jeff Perry, and Dan Bucatinsky; opera singer Renee Fleming; songwriting Hall-of-Famer Diane Warren and industry leaders Jennifer Salke and Bob Greenblatt of NBC, Anne Sweeney of ABC, Sue Kroll of Warner Brothers, Donna Langley of Universal and others.
The setting: Booths lined the ballroom, showing off various causes and offering merchandise with proceeds earmarked for the charities.
Jessica Alba chatted with guests and press surrounded by products from her own Honest Company, partly named, she said, for her daughter, Honor, and partly for the transparency of the baby, family and household products. The transparency is literal, too, as all the bottles are clear. “As a mom, I appreciate that,” she said. “It’s a girl thing.”
Quotes of note: In introducing Kidman, Simon Baker of “The Mentalist” said his wife – actor Rebecca Rigg and Kidman’s schoolmate in Australia – recalled that in 7th grade, the Academy Award winner carried herself with the conviction of a leader. “No surprises there,” he said, “It was clear at 13 years old that she was destined to do big things.”
For her part, Kidman spoke about her role with UN Women. “I became involved because I was raised by a feminist mother, and yes, she said never be frightened about using the “F” word. She believes in a sisterhood and so do I.”
Sony Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton introduced Amy Pascal, co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “This may sound odd, but I actually feel pretty comfortable being at an event celebrating powerful women,” he said. “l learned long ago that women much more than men are about collaboration and finding solutions.”
Amy Pascal then spoke about her charity, Teen Line, her career and the women who helped her along the way. “Anyone who tells you that women don’t help each other is a man,” she said. Pascal also called it a true honor to chosen as an honoree alongside what she called, “awesome women,” who use the spotlight on themselves to illuminate the charities they represent.
Randy Jackson then spoke for Hudson; Judy Smith, the real life inspiration for Olivia Pope of “Scandal,” introduced Washington; and Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “Modern Family” introduced Banks.
Jennifer Hudson, receiving the “Samsung Galaxy Impact Award,” spoke for the Julian D. King Gift Foundation; Kerry Washington, recipient of the “Movado Women of Distinction Award”, talked about her role on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities; and Elizabeth Banks, recipient of the “American Heart Association Go Red for Women Award,” showed her short film, “Just a little heart attack” and talked of the Go Red for Women movement.
Understanding the importance allotted to causes such as breast cancer, Banks said she was “all about boobies,” but said women are more likely to die of heart disease.
Charlize Theron, introduced by Hannah Simone of “New Girl,” spoke of the AIDs devastation of Africa and her charity, Charlize Theron Africa Outreach.
Theron called her mother her greatest teacher. “Speaking about powerful women, that bitch was building roads in Africa when no woman was doing that,” she said as her eyes filled with tears. “So I thank you, mom, for just teaching me by your actions how to be a strong and powerful woman and for turning me into a pussy every time I talk about you.”
After her introduction by charity founder Jane Aronson, Amy Poehler got teary-eyed, too, in her case, speaking of Worldwide Orphans, asking all of us in the audience to close our eyes and think about our children or ourselves as children and the things that made us feel warm. She then asked us to open our eyes, “and realize that there are so many children in the world who have nothing,” she said. “They have nothing. They have no one who lights up when they walk into a room, and they have no clothes and safety and food.”
Finally, restoring her composure and wrapping up on a light note, she urged everyone to support charities for these reasons: “If you take one thing from this event, please remember that giving to charity is good for your skin and it makes your ass smaller.”
Top photo: From left, honorees Jennifer Hudson, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Amy Pascal and Nicole Kidman and host Aisha Tyler at the Variety Power of Women luncheon, presented by Lifetime (Photo by Michael Kovac/ Getty Images for Variety)
Second photo: From left, honoree Nicole Kidman with Simon Baker and Variety editor-in-chief Claudia Eller at the Variety Power of Women luncheon (Photo by Joe Scarnici/ Getty Images for Variety)
Third photo: Judy Smith, left, the real-life inspiration for Olivia Pope of “Scandal,” left, presents the award to Kerry Washington at the Variety Power of Women luncheon (Photo by Joe Scarnici/ Getty Images for Variety)
Fourth photo: Sony Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton presents an award to Sony’s Amy Pascal at the Variety Power of Women luncheon (Photo by Kevin Winter/ Getty Images for Variety)
Fifth photo: Honoree Jennifer Hudson accepts her award from Randy Jackson at Variety Power of Women luncheon (Photo by Michael Kovac/ Getty Images for Variety)
Sixth photo: From left, Variety Publisher Michelle Sobrino, honoree Amy Poehler and Worldwide Orphans Foundation founder Jane Aronson at the Variety Power of Women luncheon (Photo by Michael Kovac/ Getty Images for Variety)
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Variety Power of Women
Published Oct. 5, 2013 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA