The hit film “Wonder Woman” was a touchstone for the crowd of VIP women at Tuesday night’s Women In Film’s The Crystal + Lucy Awards at the Beverly Hilton. WIF’s President Cathy Schulman got the night started by vowing to keep fighting for women’s rights in male dominated Hollywood. She also some of the many WIF programs, including the ‘ReFrame’ initiative which furthers gender parity and ‘Flip the Script,’ really funny clever Youtube videos.
Elizabeth Banks received the Crystal Award. She was feted with videos by Sen. Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton with Clinton getting a laugh. “I haven’t seen “Wonder Woman” yet but I plan too.” Clinton continued, “Something tells me that a movie about a strong powerful woman fighting to save the world from massive international disaster is right up my alley.”
Always forthright Banks called out Steven Spielberg for not having more women as leads in his films. “I went to “Indiana Jones” and “Jaws” and every movie Steven Spielberg ever made, and by the way, he’s never made a movie with a female lead. Sorry Steven. I don’t mean to call your ass out, but it’s true.” She added, “We need dudes. We need the guys. It’s our responsibility to bring the men along. I grew up going to see amazing movies with amazing men at the heart of them and no one dragged me screaming and kicking to see these movies. Tell great stories and invite people into the stories.”
Tracee Ellis Ross received the Lucy Award, got teary eyed as Michelle Obama through a video called her, “brilliant and hilarious.” Tracee responded by, “to be a part of reshaping what it is to be a modern woman through the face and being-ness of a joyful black woman is really special.”
The lovely Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o gave filmmaker Mira Nair the Dorothy Arzner award, while Sony Picture Classics co-founders Michael Barker and Tom Bernard received the inaugural Beacon Award. Actress Zoey Deutch garnered the Max Mara Face of the Future Award and thanked her parents, actress Lea Thompson and director Howard Deutch.
Robert Redford presented the Norma Zarky Humanitarian Award to his longtime friend Dan Rather, who Redford portrayed in “Truth.”
Dan paid homage to the group by saying of their work: “Far beyond what you do for and with the industry here, there is a resonance way beyond that. You do our country — not just the film industry — great service far beyond what you may imagine. It is of tremendous value to our country as a whole.”
He ended with a profound statement. “You must not waiver, hesitate for get distracted. For yours, my friends, is essential noble work.”
Later, I asked legendary CBS news man Rather what the difference is between what’s going on in Washington now and Watergate, which covered– and owned– in the early 70s.
Rather said: “There are some important comparisons between what’s going on now and Watergate. But I think it would be a mistake to make too many parallels especially given the different times and the different people we are now demographically and culturally. But among the parallels, first of all is the ultimate power, which is The President has something to hide. It may or not be criminal, but there’s something to hide so there’s that parallel. The other parallel is given that the President is trying to hide something, the system of checks and balances has kicked in. We have Congressional hearings, a Special Prosecutor, FBI investigation. All of those things. So there’s that parallel.”
He continued: “I think there’s one other parallel with Watergate. That is each of the two Presidents, they are different personalities but each of them has a strong strain of paranoia, feeling people are against them, ‘everybody is against me.’ When I say in order to draw too close a parallel, all of this cloud over President Trump is happening at the beginning of his Presidency. It didn’t start with Richard Nixon until he got into his second term. So that’s an important difference.”