Magazine article Variety

Exposure

Magazine article Variety

Exposure

Article excerpt

Power of Women

CIPRIANI 42ND STREET, NEW YORK, APRIL 21

Audra McDonald captured the spirit at Variety's fourth annual Power of Women New York luncheon when she told the crowd: "This feels like good church."

McDonald was honored along with Jessica Chastain, Chelsea Clinton, Blake Lively, Gayle King and Shari Redstone for their efforts on behalf of a range of philanthropic causes. The event also honored Tina Knowles Lawson with the Community Commerce Impact Award.

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson got a big round of applause for her courage in pursuing a sexual harassment lawsuit that led to the ouster of Fox News chief Roger Ailes. Another former Fox News colleague, Bill O'Reilly, who exited this week under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations, was name-checked by speakers at least four times.

Chastain was introduced by Lena Dunham, who gave a shout-out to Carlson and couldn't resist a jab at O'Reilly. "We should have known something was wrong with Bill O'Reilly a few years ago when he confused a loofah and a falafel," she said, referring to a claim made in a 2004 sexual harassment case.

The gathering featured inspirational speeches from the honorees, recitations of favorite quotes, calls for equality, and a disturbing explanation of the horrors of child pornography.

Host Vanessa Bayer of "Saturday Night Live" opened the luncheon with a few sharp jokes ("Say what you will about them, no one pays women more than Fox News") and the observation that the seven honorees had one thing in common: "None of their mothers are president. …

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