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Gwyneth Paltrow celebrates Power of Women amid Harvey Weinstein scandal

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LOS ANGELES — Gwyneth Paltrow, Octavia Spencer and other Hollywood stars called for solidarity at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon on Friday, an event occurring 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. Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Company a week ago after an explosive New York Times investigation detailed decades of sexual harassment accusations against the producer. 

“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 told the crowd, her voice shaking with emotion.

More: Julia Roberts, Emma Thompson condemn Weinstein; Oliver Stone apologizes

Earlier: Harvey Weinstein officially fired from The Weinstein Company

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

“As a result, women across the world are banding together, leading the charge to ensure these victims are heard and policies are changed,” she said.

Paltrow, 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,” she said.

Pfeiffer spoke about the benefits of the Environmental Working Group, the science-based organization she serves on that analyzes common products for health risks. But Pfeiffer took a moment 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,” he said.

“It takes no effort not to be a creep. I’ve never been a creep, I’m proud of that,” Apatow added. “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 co-editor-in-chief Claudia Eller referred to Weinstein as “despicable.” Eller said 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 — this is not new,” she said. “What is new is that women are speaking up. The cover-ups, those days are over.”

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