The current firestorm surrounding the presidential election added fuel to remarks at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon presented by Lifetime at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
“We’re here to talk about women and their … or as I like to call them now, ‘Trump handles,’ ” said host Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girfriend”), prompting a huge laugh Friday from the by-invitation-only audience of predominantly female Hollywood power players.
Variety’s co-editor-in-chief, Claudia Eller, generated loud applause by calling the timing “particularly poignant. … as it falls on the eve of a historic election when we are going to have the first female president of the United States.”
The event honored Hollywood notables and their philanthropic pursuits: Helen Mirren (“Eye in the Sky”) for her work with the Stuttering Assn. for the Young; singer Miley Cyrus for working with the Happy Hippie Foundation; Laverne Cox (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again”) for working with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs; Scarlett Johansson (“The Avengers”) for her work with Planned Parenthood; and director Ava DuVernay (“13th”) for working with 1000 Black Girl Books.
Other award recipients were Spanx founder Sara Blakely, Marchesa co-founder and designer Georgina Chapman and Universal Music Group Chairman and Chief Executive Lucian Grainge. Celebrities attending the event included Robert Downey Jr., Victoria Justice, Jamie Brewer, Rosanna Arquette, Liam Hemsworth, Naomie Harris, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Ashley Tisdale, Gabrielle Carteris, Jenna Dewan Tatum and Sharon Lawrence.
If you weren’t there, here are five more intriguing comments you missed hearing.
1.) “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,” said director Gavin Hood (“Eye in the Sky”), beginning his introduction for Mirren, and then adding, “Gentlemen, not violent men, or brutal men or vulgar men; gentlemen, not weak men, not cowardly, crass or crude men, who understand that what we say and how we say it matters — that words matter.”
2.) “All my life, I’ve been asked about the atrocious discrepancy of roles for women in drama, and all my life, I’ve always had the same answer. Don’t worry about roles for women in drama; worry about roles for women in real life,” said Mirren, before focusing on the future of politics. “As women of all ages, of all economic situations, all professions vote. … This is a defining moment. I feel some kind of earthquake is happening, and there is a real, real possibility for change. And what women do, how they influence the coming election, will have an incredible effect all over the world. ... It’s time for the best role model in the White House.”
3.) Introducing Johansson, Downey had the audience laughing as he considered Variety’s suggestions for his remarks. “Now wait a minute,” he said. “I’m supposed to sell her [as an honoree] when it’s you who asked me to show up here, ostensibly because you deemed her worthy? And now I have to make your case for you?”
4.) In discussing her presenters — she called the group of women “warrior women” who represent her — DuVernay said, “What we put on-screen is important, widely important, monumentally important, but the way we go about our work is also important.”
5.) Cyrus wrapped up the ceremonies with a shot at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as she spoke of “the overwhelming and even terrifying responsibility that comes with power” and “the villainous vibes that surround power, and the poor examples of how too many leaders abuse it; and yes, that’s for Donald Trump.”
She finished her remarks by saying, “I want to send love out into the universe because we desperately need it and I’m wishing for peace on our planet because hate and war have gone on way too long.”
Ellen Olivier is the founder of Society News L.A.