The Matrix Awards: Media Revolutionaries

At a high-heeled and smart-suited luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria today, women (and some men who know what’s good for them) gathered to honor each other at The Matrix Awards. New York Women in Communications Inc. (NYWICI) honored eight ladies of reknown: actor Geena Davis, author Candace Bushnell, NBCU Digital Media’s Beth Comstock, WOR Radio veteran Joan Hamburg, NYC Film Commissioner Katherine Oliver, Glamour EIC Cynthia Leive, New York Times managing editor Jill Abramson, and Starcom Mediavest CEO Renetta McCann.

Talkshow host/dance crazer Ellen DeGeneres hosted the event and generated a lot of enthusiasm, judging by the four women we overheard on the subway looking forward to both the luncheon AND recording Ellen every day.

Asian chicken salad fed the masses at the Matrix Awards, giving the first quarter of the event a clinking soundtrack. Fishbowl was seated at Table 9, between People correspondent Diane Clehane (who got an exclusive with Ellen, much to a Star reporter’s dismay) and Peter Rush, president and CEO of the Kellen Company, home of NYWICI. Peter (who loves Tic Tacs) told us the event was sold out by the end of January, and confessed that seating is one of the toughest parts to organize. The Matrix Awards “represent the best of the best in terms of women in the communications industry,” he said. “There continues to be so many to choose from.”

Mayor Mike couldn’t stay too long because it was Opening Day, but he did take the time to effusively introduce Katherine Oliver, the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. “You hold the first pitch. I’ve got something more important to do.”

Ellen must have bionic vision as she was able to read a teleprompter all the way across the ballroom. “It’s an accomplishment just getting up and doing hair and makeup in the morning. Men don’t have to do that.” She paused for a beat and called David Guest an exception to the rule. Ellen also danced a little at the podium, which is what everyone was waiting to see.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Albert R. Hunt introduced The New York Times‘s Jill Abramson, but he didn’t say mention, as Jill claims he has in the past, that she had “balls like cast-iron cantalopes.” Instead, he offered a more touching tribute, calling her the first person he would hire at a newspaper and the one he hoped his children would turn to if something happened to him and his wife.

Hearst Magazines president Catherine Black admired the new “sleek” podiums at the Waldorf which she says weren’t there last week. Everyone loves brushed steel.

Renetta McCann of Starcom Mediavest Group won the advertising award and shared her mantra with the crowd: “Leaders are people who have grown comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Renetta said she read this somewhere. The end result is that most of the crowd would have followed her anywhere after her speech.

Bill Moyers introduced the very funny Joan Hamburg, but we didn’t get a photo. Ellen noted that Moyers had won two Gold Baton awards and then deadpanned, “I didn’t even know he twirls.” In her acceptance speech, Hamburg earned the most laughs with tales of Andy Warhol, Clay Felker and Lenny Bruce. Her best line? “The women’s movement was moving, only it didn’t go near my house.”

Katie Couric introduced Glamour‘s Cynthia Leive in rhyme. Really. Bonus points for rhyming “Venus” with … you know. She wouldn’t say it, either.

Not to be out-rhymed, Cynthia Leive got Couric right back with an impromptu verse:

Thank you, Katie.
Your words are sublime.
Will you someday anchor
the news in rhyme?

When discussing the notion of “having it all” Leive confessed that her 18-month-old daughter would run down the hallway, takeout menus in hand, yelling “Dinner! Dinner!” Out of the mouths of media babes…

Publish date: April 3, 2006 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT