The Matrix Awards: One Part Inspiration, One Part Trash-Talking

What Everyone Is Talking About

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NEW YORK ( -- The Matrix Awards are always good for as much water-cooler talk as they are inspiration, which is saying a lot on both fronts. Monday's ceremony, for example, honored women whose accomplishments are indisputably stunning: Cindy Adams, Lisa Caputo, Joan Didion, Pamela Fiori, Thelma Golden, Arianna Huffington, Susan Lyne and Meredith Viera. At the same time, however, master of ceremonies Rosie O'Donnell kept the crowd whispering with repeated digs at Rupert Murdoch, who was on hand to introduce Ms. Adams.
Rosie O'Donnell
Rosie O'Donnell Credit: Nancy Kaszerman

"He's a man who makes me take Effexor," Ms. O'Donnell said about Mr. Murdoch, referring to the drug commonly prescribed for generalized anxiety and depression. When bringing him to the podium later, she said, "Now four words that I never thought I'd be saying: Please welcome Rupert Murdoch." Ms. O'Donnell also revisited her critique of Donald Trump, prompting much more laughter from Ms. Huffington than from her presenter, Barbara Walters.

The awards are presented annually by the New York Women in Communications to honor women who made a difference in their fields.

The good vibes, generally speaking, overpowered anything else. "It never occurred to me that I could any way change anybody's life," said Ms. Fiori, editor in chief at Hearst Magazines' Town & Country and the first woman to hold that job. Given that possibility at the top of a big magazine, she said, she decided to try editing in a way that prepared readers for the changes going on around them, for the breadth of the world and to be embracing, not elitist.

Ms. Adams, the New York Post columnist, was her typically entertaining self, noting that the Matrix winners only had two minutes in which to reflect on her career and its lessons for women now coming up in communications. "Nobody has given me two minutes since my husband on our wedding night," she said.

Hillary Clinton was there to introduce Ms. Caputo, who served as Ms. Clinton's press secretary back when Bill was in the White House. "I'm here to pay a debt," Ms. Clinton said. "Fifteen years ago I hired a young woman to be my press secretary. Little did any of us know what kind of adventure that would bring us."

Ms. Caputo is now chief marketing, advertising and community relations officer in Citigroup's global consumer group, as well as president-CEO of Citigroup's Women & Co. "Thank you, President Clinton," she said upon reaching the podium.

Ms. Vieira traced her circuitous route to her current job as co-anchor of "Today" on NBC, including some obstacles along the way. "Your vagina can open doors," she said, "but it can also be used against you."

Ms. Walters prefaced her introduction of Ms. Huffington, founder the Huffington Post, by pointing out that she doesn't agree with everything that Ms. O'Donnell says. "I am very fond of Rupert Murdoch," she added.

New York Women in Communications' foundation was also at the ceremony, held in New York at the Waldorf Astoria, to present this year's young scholarship recipients. As each took the podium to introduce themselves and their career plans, most offered up suitably ambitious goals -- such as becoming editor in chief of The New York Times or Cosmopolitan. Two made less obvious choices, however; one said she planned to be the next Bonnie Fuller, whose star has dimmed considerably since her glory days, and another said she would be the next Atoosa Rubenstein, who recently wrote on her MySpace page that she sold "self hate" during her time as editor in chief at Seventeen.
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