Hollywood Reporter's 'Power 100: Women In Entertainment Breakfast'
The Hollywood Reporter announced its annual list of the entertainment industry's top female power players Tuesday over breakfast at the Beverly Hills Hotel. No. 1? Anne Sweeney, president of Disney/ABC Television.

"I love the smell of estrogen in the morning," Katie Couric said to the 600 guests, which included nearly all the women on the "Power 100" list.

Halle Berry presented the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award and related her conversation with Lansing before the event: When Lansing told her the honoree's name ( Helen Mirren), Berry said, "I thought I would melt to the floor."

"I personally thought she did the queen better than the queen," Berry continued. Regarding age discrimination, she said, "Helen, you have singlehandedly, all by yourself, broken down that barrier."

Accepting her award, Mirren noted that the world has changed, adding, with a nod to Couric, "My mother told me a woman's voice was not deemed authoritative enough to read the news." And while acknowledging the dearth of roles for older women in Hollywood, Mirren said her greater concern was for "women in life, on the public stages of politics, or law or commerce, science, engineering."

The morning also celebrated the Hollywood Reporter's mentoring program with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, which pairs inner-city students with Hollywood's most influential women.

"They learn what is possible," said Sue Kroll, Warner's president of worldwide marketing, after the luncheon. "They see that once you get your foot in the door, it doesn't matter where you're from. It's what you do and how hard you work that counts."

Speakers also included Hollywood Reporter publisher Lori Burgess and editorial director Janice Min; A&E Television President Abbe Raven; Entertainment Tonight executive producer Linda Bell Blue; actress Sally Hawkins; and scholarship winner Aileen Renteria.

Children's Action Network auction

Later that day, Sela Ward and Howard Sherman decked the patios of their Los Angeles home with 38 designer Christmas wreaths, which were available to the highest bidder. The auction raised $50,000 for Children's Action Network, which aims to help improve the lives of foster children and find them adoptive homes.

"Everyone deserves to have a family," said event co-chair Sean Kanan of "The Young and the Restless."

The one-of-a-kind holiday artworks came decorated with crayons, feathers and rhinestones, as well as in classic evergreen styles. A "Glee to the World" number came from Jane Lynch with a note from her TV character, Sue Sylvester, reading "Merry Christmas to whoever got suckered into paying for this."

Kanan, Shelley Reid and Susan Woods served as co-chairs, joining guests Linda Thompson, Virginia Madsen, Christine and Gabriel Chiu, Homeira and Arnold Goldstein, Joan and Martin Ransohoff, Barbara Bollenbach, Angela Rich, Joyce Rey, Sue Hancock and Veronica Fernandez.

'Beat the Odds' gala

Five Los Angeles High School students captured the starring roles at the Children's Defense Fund's 20th annual "Beat the Odds" gala Dec. 2 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which netted more than $500,000 for child-advocacy programs, juvenile justice and scholarships for students who have excelled despite near-overwhelming challenges.

Emcee Jane Kaczmarek of TV's "Malcolm in the Middle" said anyone can see celebrities at the Oscars, "but here's where we come to see five amazing young people whose real-world stories of tragedy and triumph are much more compelling than anything we've ever seen in the movies."

Nearly 400 guests watched as J.J. Abrams, co-creator of "Lost"; Zoe Saldana; Josh Holloway; Sofia Vergara; and Elisabeth Shue presented awards to CDF scholarship recipients Jonathan Calderon, Giovanni Soto, Wilson Khauv, Erica Limon and Hsiao-Wei Monica Banks.

Abrams called the keynote speaker, CDF President Marian Wright Edelman, "a true national treasure." The guest list also included co-chairs Katie McGrath, Ruth-Ann Huvane, Laura Wasserman, Carol and Frank Biondi, Stacey and Charles King, Michelle Monaghan, Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter.

ellen.olivier@society-news.com