Shonda Rhimes, Joan Rivers honored at Women in Entertainment event

Shonda Rhimes, Joan Rivers honored at Women in Entertainment event
Shonda Rhimes accepts the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at the Hollywood Reporter's Power 100 Women in Entertainment breakfast. (Vince Bucci / Invision for The Hollywood Repor)

The event: The Hollywood Reporter hosted its 23rd annual Women in Entertainment breakfast at Milk Studios in Los Angeles on Wednesday, the day the magazine named the industry’s top 100 female power players. The event featured a touching and humorous tribute to the late Joan Rivers as well as accolades for producer/director Shonda Rhimes, recipient of the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award.

The crowd: A Hollywood A-list of industry executives filled the audience, which also included faces familiar to the public such as Lea Michele, Kris Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Geena Davis, Nikki Reed, Patricia Arquette, Portia de Rossi, Giuliana Rancic, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Maria Menounos, Darby Stanchfield, Constance Zimmer, Dan Bucatinsky and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

For the Record
Dec. 11, 7:15 p.m.:
An earlier version of this article misspelled Janice Min's last name as Minn and Giuliana Rancic's first name as Guiliana.

The Power 100: Bonnie Hammer, chair of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group, weighed in at No. 1, followed in the top five by Dana Walden, chair and CEO of Fox Television Group; Nancy Dubuc, president and CEO of A+E Networks; Amy Pascal, co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group; and Donna Langley, chair of Universal Pictures.

The program: Joel McHale, Hoda Kotb, Jay Leno and the Hollywood Reporter's chief creative officer Janice Min and group publisher Lynne Segall led the program, which featured a tribute to "Fashion Police" host Joan Rivers, who died in September following a medical procedure.

"She once said she didn't find her comedic voice until she was 70," said Sarah Silverman from onstage. "I love that. For true blue stand-up comics like Joan Rivers, there is no end game."

Joan's daughter Melissa Rivers spoke next, saying she was “overwhelmed” by the request to speak. “Not just because it’s the first time I’m actually publicly speaking in tribute to my mother, but because every single person in this room could essentially hire me and a few of you have actually fired me.”

Then, with characteristic Rivers humor, she quipped,  "But I don't want you to feel badly because technically I am now an orphan."

More seriously she lauded her mother. "My mother was fearless, and I don't mean she didn't have any fears," Melissa Rivers said. "I mean that although she was only 5-2, she stood tall and walked through them. That is what made her such a brilliant performer. ... She was willing to say what others were thinking and too frightened to admit."

The honoree: Rhimes, No. 14 on the Power 100 list, was introduced by Tony Goldwyn, a star of her hit show "Scandal," and, via video, by First Lady Michelle Obama. 

Rhimes said she doesn't feel as though she has broken through a glass ceiling as a woman and as an African American, as many thought. "If I had broken through the glass ceiling, I would have felt some cuts and I would have some bruises," she said. "There would be sharp glass in my hair; I'd be bleeding."

Instead, she said other women had paved the way, calling her success "a group effort" and thanking all the women in the room, all the women who never made it and "all the women who will fill a room 100 times this size when we're all gone."

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