Message is Crystal clear: Fight for equality isn’t over

“The Year of the Woman … hmmm, I’ll say it’s been a good few years,” Michelle Pfeiffer told more than 1,300 Women in Film members at their 17th annual Crystal Awards luncheon Friday. “Demi Moore went to Robert Redford for $ 1 million. Before that, Uma Thurman was sold to Robert De Niro for $ 40,000. And a few years back, Richard Gere bought Julia Roberts for $ 3,000. Now that’s real progress.”

That vitriolic tone prevailed during the festivities at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. While the luminous cast of speakers praised the progress made by women in the entertainment industry, all agreed their fight was far from over.

Women in Film — which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year — honored Pfeiffer, along with Julie Andrews, Mike Farrell, activist Peg Yorkin, documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple, USA Network president Kay Koplovitz and an absent Catherine Deneuve. They were cited for their accomplishments in providing positive female role models, promoting humanitarian issues and advocating the advancement of women.

Paramount chair Sherry Lansing hosted the four-hour event, with presenters and guests including Jack Lemmon, Lee Grant, Loretta Swit, Jane Seymour, director Robert Wise, Fox Television chair Lucie Salhany, publicist Pat Kingsley and producers Kathleen Kennedy, Lili Fini Zanuck and Laura Ziskin.

Andrews poked fun at her early pristine image in order to press the point about how much more easily women were typecast than men, and the dearth of good roles for women.

Yorkin offered statistics to show how the low number of women in leadership roles in the industry and Congress grossly misrepresented their population in society.

But the most riveting — and universal — speech came from a man. Mike Farrell quoted a foreign correspondent who described war crimes he’d witnessed as being far worse than any movie he’d seen.

“We cannot allow what we do to become a paradigm of brutality,” Farrell said. “We are about more than violence and ugliness and savagery. Women in Film, you have an intimate understanding of exploitation. We must be celebrating the telling of light and hope.”