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RSVP : A Power Lunch With Hillary

October 31, 1994|BETTY GOODWIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

You could forget lunch at Cicada or The Ivy on Friday. The power lunch was surely the Hollywood Women's Political Committee fund-raiser with a lineup of speakers that went, in order of appearance: Barbra, Whoopi, Hillary. If you need last names, forget it.

A paparazzi's field day, the event--a fund-raiser for progressive Democratic House and Senate candidates--drew female forces in front of and behind the screen, including Shirley MacLaine, Liza Minnelli, Lynda Guber, Lili Fini Zanuck, Marlee Matlin, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Natalie Cole, Laura Ziskin, Linda Bruckheimer, Lisa Henson, Linda Gray and Jane Semel.

There was even a smattering of evolved men, such as actor Ron Silver squiring Tawny Little, State Democratic Committee chairman Bill Press and MCA president Sidney Sheinberg, with his wife, Lorraine, and sons Jon and Bill.

"It's an equal opportunity lunch," quipped Sheinberg.

But even for these seasoned schmoozers, mingling was a nightmare. The table at which First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barbra Streisand and Whoopi Goldberg sat during the cold chicken lunch was encircled by a red velvet rope that gave the strong impression running up and embracing any of them was not a good idea.

The crowd of nearly a thousand had been alerted to arrive a half-hour later than planned because of Clinton's schedule and then patiently stood another half-hour outside the Regent Beverly Wilshire for the final security check of the ballroom.

Organized it wasn't, but this wasn't exactly like waiting for a diva doing her final mascara check. Clinton came directly from the Middle East where she witnessed the signing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty. It was a 20-hour journey. "I am tired," allowed Clinton when she fumbled over her words once during a lengthy, otherwise awesome, unscripted oratorial performance.

Touching on feminism, reactionary politics, health care reform ("We will get it"), the treaty signing ("I was so proud of our President"), and "the balancing act" of modern women's lives, Clinton also pumped up the room over the upcoming election and her support of gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Brown (who was present) and Senate candidate Dianne Feinstein (who wasn't).

"I happen to think we'll do quite well," said Clinton of the election.

While Streisand spoke at length, reading a speech in which she praised President Clinton's accomplishments and jabbed at Republican Senate candidate Michael Huffington, Goldberg spoke more from another place in the heart. With Mrs. Clinton as a national role model, Goldberg said: "Suddenly it was OK for women to be articulate and outspoken and OK to be called a bitch for it."

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