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Harvey Weinstein blasted in 'Power of Women' event

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 10/14/2017 Bryan Alexander
Gwyneth Paltrow speaks at Variety's Power of Women lunch, presented by Lifetime. © Shotwel/Variety/REX/Shutterstock, Gwyneth Paltrow speaks at Variety's Power of Women lunch, presented by Lifetime.

LOS ANGELES — Gwyneth Paltrow, Octavia Spencer and other Hollywood stars called for solidarity at Variety's Power of Women lunceon in Los Angeles on Friday, an event coming in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal rocking Hollywood.

Honoree Octavia Spencer made note of the timing from the stage of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel during her speech, which touched on the spate of bad news in the media. Weinstein, who was fired from The Weinstein Company following reports chronicling decades of sexual harassment towards women, was front and center in this bad news.

"This past week, the film industry awoke to a scandal that rocked us to our core. Scores of brave women came forward and recounted stories of sexual harassment perpetrated by a producer who had abused his power for nearly three decades," Spencer said, her voice shaking with emotion.

The actress said she was looking for the positive side of the news.

"As result, women across the world are banding together, leading the charge to ensure these victims are heard and policies are changed," said Spencer.

Paltrow, who had been one of the first actresses to come forward saying that she was harassed by Weinstein, was one of the first speakers at the lunch, introducing honoree Michelle Pfeiffer.

During her short address, Paltrow said the women's event was "timely."

"I feel very honored to be among you all, and, after many decades, to feel the support and the coming-together in the industry this week," said Paltrow.

Pfeiffer spoke about the benefits of the Environmental Working Group, the science-based organization on which she serves which analyzes common products for health risks. But Pfeiffer took a moment from her speech to pay respect to Paltrow.

"I would be remiss for not applauding you for speaking out this week," said Pfeiffer, as the crowd erupted in applause. "It took a lot of courage, from all of you."

Producer/director Judd Apatow kicked off the event with his own attack on the "creep" Weinstein.

"This is going to lead to a new examination of how women have been treated in our industry," said Apatow, adding that bad behavior towards women should never be tolerated on movie sets.

"It takes no effort not to be a creep. I've never been a creep, I'm proud of that," said Apatow. "People say, what will become of Harvey Weinstein's company? To which I reply, 'Who gives a (expletive)?' Shut it down!"

Honoree Priyanka Chopra spoke about her work with UNICEF and about one director early in her career who tried to force her to take a part for terrible pay.

"If I didn't, he said he would just replace me, because girls in the entertainment industry are replaceable," said Chopra. "That's when I decided to make myself irreplaceable."

Variety editor Claudia Eller referred to Weinstein as "despicable." Eller said that the revelations will serve a catalyst for change that could lead to the eradication of a "sick epidemic" that has been part of Hollywood for decades.

"This abuse of power, this sense of entitlement from these powerful privileged men," said Eller. "This is not new. What is new, is that women are speaking up. The cover-ups, those days are over."

Celebrity reactions to Harvey Weinstein scandal (via Photo Services):

  TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 09: Film Producer Harvey Weinstein attends Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's 'The Current War' TIFF Premiere Party Hosted by Cactus Club Cafe And Johnnie Walker Black Label at First Canadian Place on September 9, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by GP Images/WireImage) Celebrity reactions to Harvey Weinstein scandal

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