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WIF Nods Celebrate Strides

Women in Film, Los Angeles, celebrated its 30th anniversary and doled out its Crystal and Lucy Awards at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City while also looking for a way to keep itself relevant in the face of great strides taken by women since the organization's inception in 1973.

"The glass ceiling has exploded," WIF president Iris Grossman said Monday night. "So why do we still need Women in Film? We need to give back to the next generation so that they can have the careers that we dreamed about and that we have."

Host Christine Lahti noted that while women occupy major positions as studio and television execs, the rest of industry is still under a celluloid ceiling. "Ninety-three percent of films last year were directed by men, and 72% of all parts in movies went to men," she said. "My dream is that in 30 years from now, we won't need a Women in Film."

After a screening of a retrospective video, it was full steam ahead into the presenting of nine awards, which saw Diane Lane, producer Debra Hill, and Buena Vista topper Nina Jacobson accept the Crystal for expanding the role of women within the entertainment industry. Meanwhile, Stockard Channing, Lily Tomlin, Fox Broadcasting head Gail Berman-Masters and HBO executive vp original programming Sheila Nevins received the Lucys for exemplifying the accomplishments embodied by Lucille Ball.

Jodie Foster presented Channing with her award, saying that the actress had only been tragically miscast once, when she got the part of the first lady in "The West Wing": "They should have made her president."

Channing, for her part, talked about the importance of mentoring, one of WIF's tenets, and said she had a sort of mentor in actress Colleen Dewhurst. "She told me the worst enemy to an actor is bitterness," Channing said. "I think it's the enemy to anyone in the business because it's corrosive and you don't learn anything from it."

HBO's Nevins wondered out loud why certain people ascribed luck to women for reaching certain positions in the industry. "I can't say that I earned this award through luck," Nevins said. "It was through balls."

Presenters included Harry Shearer, Sam Haskell, Phylicia Rashad, Tracy Ullman and Wanda Sykes.

One surprise was the appearance of Julie Andrews, who came onstage carrying the Crystal for Buena Vista's Jacobson, with presenter Jaime Lee Curtis looking on. But Jacobson appeared not to have noticed as she was distracted, so Andrews exited the stage, leaving the audience laughing. Andrews re-entered moments later, much to Jacobson's delight.

Elsewhere, the Kodak Vision Award went to cinematographer Pauline Heaton. It was presented by Russell Carpenter.

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