The event: More than 40 years after heating up movie screens in the 1973 blockbuster “The Way We Were,” Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand had starring roles at the Hollywood Reporter’s 24th Women in Entertainment Breakfast at Milk Studios in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Redford attended to present Streisand — a multi-award-winning singer, actress, director and producer — with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award. He recalled having been concerned about his costar before filming the romance classic, thinking of Streisand as a singer, not an actress. He said he’d also been warned that she could be “a pain,” but instead found her to be a pleasure to work with and called her somebody who “instigated a new kind of beauty.”
The scene: Never mind that the affair began bright and early at 8 a.m. More than a few guests dressed to impress, including Kathy Griffin in a gleaming silver Alice and Olivia frock. “I want to be a shiny object, noticed from afar by Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand, and then asked to come onstage for a duet,” Griffin joked during the pre-breakfast reception.
The program: As the audience ate scrambled eggs with caviar, smashed avocado toast and peeky toe crab, Lena Dunham, Sean Penn, Meghan Trainor, “UnReal” co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and Sherry Lansing took turns at the podium. THR’s chief creative officer, Janice Min, and publisher, Lynne Segall, represented the magazine.
Obstacles facing women and girls — and not just in the entertainment industry — became the day’s theme, as speakers also brought up issues of health and poverty. Through tears, DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg read a letter from Nanci Ryder, a former publicist who is battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in which she asked the audience to support the fight against ALS and to solve Hollywood’s gender problem.
Quotes of note: “I have this theory about the cave man,” said Streisand. “Imagine what he must have felt watching his woman’s belly mysteriously get larger and larger. What was happening to her? Was she sick? Is she going to die? Then one day she’s in horrible pain and all of a sudden this thing comes out of her body, kicking and screaming.”
As a result, she postulated, “A fear launched into the male collective unconscious … and I bet from that moment on, he decided that he had to keep her down on the farm — or back in the cave. Somehow she was so powerful that she had to be controlled, kept in her place.”
Streisand told young women in the audience to be active and speak up. “Anything is possible if you have a dream or a vision,” she said. “Speak up until women are treated equally by the people who pay us, by the people who heal us and by the people who claim to represent us. Remember the more we support each other, the stronger we become.”
Ellen Olivier is the founder of SocietyNewsLA.