The last place we’d expect to hear the “f” word is the New York Women in Communications Matrix Awards but, thanks to emcee Rosie O’Donnell, the usually inspiring event had some cringe-inducing moments that raised more than a few eyebrows during Monday’s lo-o-ng afternoon at the Waldorf. The View moderator did get some big laughs, though — most notably when she recounted a conversation she’d had with presenter Martha Stewart about her stint in prison. In a pitch-perfect imitation of the domestic diva, O’Donnell recounted an exchange they’d had in which she asked Stewart what she missed most during her days in Alderson, West Virginia. The crowd erupted when O’Donnell deadpanned, “The taste of lemon. That’s no bullshit. You couldn’t write that in an SNL skit. That’s real.” The former “Queen of Nice” also garnered guffaws when she joked that Stewart had confided that she and her mogul-turned-astronaut boyfriend were “doing it on occasion.”
Before we critique O’Donnell’s standup, here’s a recap of the impressive attendees we spotted and chatted with on the press line and at the VIP reception before the awards got underway: Joan Didion, the first winner to arrive, didn’t bother talking to too many folks. (She later remarked while accepting her award that she was “by no stretch a woman in communications, because I have no office and sending me an email is like dropping it down a well”). She spent most of the time before the luncheon huddled with her presenter Nora Ephron. Other Matrix winners — Pamela Fiori, Lisa Caputo (sans her presenter Hillary Clinton, who dashed onstage at 2 pm as Ephron and Didion were exiting) and Thelma Golden — were quickly ushered through the press line. Susan Lyne arriving with her doppelganger boss Stewart got a bit more attention, as did Arianna Huffington, who — rather than sequester herself in the private reception area — chatted with gamely with well-wishers just steps away from the press check-in. The Insider‘s Lara Spencer tried to pump award recipient Cindy Adams for more on Alec Baldwin‘s latest telephone-induced implosion, and asked the gossip maven if she had “more dirt” on the Christie Brinkley/Peter Cook divorce. “If I did, I would save it for my column.” Only then did Spencer finally ask Adams about her award.
The most popular Matrix winner in the press room was Meredith Vieira, who, as usual, went out of her way to talk to everyone. A testy producer from Entertainment Tonight asked us who we were and why we got first crack at the Today anchor (Answer: Because we’ve known Vieira forever, and insisted on being separated from the print reporters because everyone knows TV people take up all the time on the red carpet, leaving just crumbs for the rest of us journos). Vieira graciously gave us a good chunk of time to discuss the head-spinning news cycle of the last two weeks. For more on our conversation with her and the rest from risqué Rosie, check for additional posts throughout the day…
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