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A Toast to Women's Accomplishments Amid Bad News

June 13, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

The 1,400 or so guests who gathered Friday in Century City to celebrate women's accomplishments in film refused to be gloomy, despite the results of an annual study published that day in Daily Variety, which found employment of women in behind-the-scenes positions in Hollywood is at an all-time low.

The annual Crystal Awards luncheon was given by Women in Film, an organization founded in 1973 that provides scholarships, film finishing funds and other help for women in the biz.

Producer-lawyer Barbara Boyle, Universal Pictures Distribution President Nikki Rocco and actress Jessica Lange were honored. Cinematographer Lisa Rinzler received the Kodak Vision Award and Mimi Leder ("China Beach," "The Peacemaker" and "Deep Impact") accepted the Dorothy Arzner Directors Award.

"The percentage of women directing mainstream movies fell last year from 8% to 4%. That is abominable," Leder said, quoting the findings of Martha Lauzen, a communications professor at UC San Diego. Lauzen's annual study also found women held only 17% of the key positions (executive producer, producer, director, writer, director of photography and editor) in the 250 highest-grossing films of 1999. (The figure was the same in 1998).

In an effort to improve the numbers, Women in Film President Hollace Davids announced a new mentoring program to help women move up the ladder in Hollywood.

Gender politics were on the minds of many guests, including, at my table, Irma Kalish of Arim Productions. It was during her tenure as president of Women in Film, from 1986-87, that the organization was threatened with a lawsuit and forced to admit men. A few men have since joined. I guess that's what passes for gender equity in Hollywood.

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Helen Thomas, the 79-year-old former dean of the White House press corps, may have quit her job at United Press International last month after 57 years, but she's not retiring, according to an Associated Press report.

Speaking at Ohio University's commencement ceremonies, Thomas said she is considering offers to cover the 2000 presidential election. She urged graduates to find jobs that are fulfilling, worthy of their time and talents and provide a daily education. "From my own view from the bridge, happiness is working at what you enjoy," said Thomas. Sounds like she's taking her own advice.

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Forget the plot of HBO's "Sex in the City." I'd tune in just to see the fabulous clothes worn by Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays a newspaper columnist. Her character's wardrobe notwithstanding, Parker does try to keep things realistic. In the June 17 issue of TV Guide, she says the actresses must have hairstyles that a normal woman could wear.

"The hair rules are, if you can't do it yourself, you can't do it," Parker says. "I don't know any woman in America who can run out of the house in the morning and do an upsweep--except for maybe Ivana Trump, and I don't want anyone on the show to look like Ivana Trump."

Reality check, Sarah Jessica: I don't know any newspaper columnists who could afford a single Fendi baguette, let alone one for every outfit. But a girl can always dream. . . .

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Booth Moore can be reached at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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