STARS, SALAD AND REDFORD
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
NEW YORK — Granted, it was an event celebrating women who change the world, but when Robert Redford hopped on the stage to surprise his publicist of 40 years, Lois Smith, managing director of PMK Public Relations, who received a Matrix Award, he was immediately embraced by the audience.
Mary Lou Quinlan, president of New York Women in Communications, presenter of the Matrix Awards, told Redford he needn’t bother filling out an application to join the organization and was automatically inducted.
But Redford was just one of the big names who paid tribute to Smith and seven other Matrix winners who were honored for extraordinary achievements in the communications industry.
A moment earlier, Michelle Pfeiffer had presented the art and entertainment Matrix to Smith, noting: “Fifteen years ago, I hired Lois after she promised me I’d never have to make appearances at awards luncheons. She’s talked me into doing a lot of things, but she didn’t have to talk me into this today.”
“It’s not easy to maintain any kind of privacy if you’re a public figure,” Redford added. “You find yourself in a war zone. Lois, in that regard, did wonders. Because I was a difficult person, she tricked me, cajoled me and conned me to get me to do things I didn’t want to do. She was right — most of the time.”
Al Roker, weather and feature reporter for NBC’s “Today,” presented the new media award to Pamela Thomas-Graham, president and chief operating officer of CNBC, and ABC News correspondent Barbara Walters gave the advertising Matrix to Andrea Alstrup, corporate vice president of advertising for Johnson & Johnson, who directs the firm’s advertising spending of $600 million.
“I don’t know if they sponsor our show, but they spend $600 million,” quipped Walters.
Author and filmmaker Michael Crichton presented the books award to Jane Friedman, president and ceo of HarperCollins Publishers. And writer-director Nora Ephron gave the public relations award to Judy Corman, senior vice president of corporate communications at Scholastic Inc., publishers of the Harry Potter series.
Pop singer Sheryl Crow, who presented the broadcasting award to Judy McGrath, president of MTV Group, said: “This is a different kind of award ceremony for Judy and me. Usually there are outlandish outfits and lots of profanity. I haven’t seen that today.”
Cathleen Black, president of Hearst Magazines, presented the award for magazines to Valerie Salembier, vice president and publisher of Esquire.
“When she took over Esquire, it was anemic at best. She gave it a giant dose of testosterone, and that takes a real woman,” said Black.
Martha Stewart, chairman and ceo of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, gave the newspapers award to Joanne Lipman, deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, who said that she enjoyed sitting next to Stewart at the luncheon. “She not only gave me tips on how to decorate my house, but how to improve the Cobb salad,” said Lipman, referring to the luncheon’s main course, which was a kind of “do-it-yourself” salad.
The event, held at the Waldorf-Astoria on Monday, was hosted by Conde Nast Publications.
Ruth Reichel, editor in chief of Gourmet and luncheon chairwoman, had her own suggestions for the salad: She told the audience to add the bacon and salad dressing on the table to the salad, which needed to be properly mixed on the plate.