Menzel, Iman, Danes honored for charity work

NEW YORK (AP) — Variety magazine feted Idina Menzel, Iman, Claire Danes and others Friday for their "Power of Women: New York" issue — but not for how much power they have, but how they wield it for good.

The women, along with Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon and A&E President and CEO Nancy Dubac, were honored for their charitable work at a luncheon at ritzy Cipriani in Manhattan. It was hosted by designer Zac Posen and featured Katie Couric, Gayle King, Josh Groban and others paying tribute.

"The fact that we're here means we are really lucky ... so why do this?" said Sarandon after she was given an award for her support of the group Hope North, which provides an education for Ugandan children of war. "It feels really good to know you have done something."

The ceremony, sponsored by HTC One and FYIslo, A&E's new television network, was sometimes emotional, as the women talked about why they were moved to get involved. Iman, who works with the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation in her native Somalia, talked about how Abdi has helped provide medical attention, clean water and other basic necessities for people in need.

"It's amazing to me what has happened to my country. ... It was once peaceful, progressive, an admirable country," said the supermodel and businesswoman, who fled the war-torn nation decades ago. "There was nothing that women could not do. Today, they are not even allowed to drive a car."

Danes was honored for the work she does with the charity Afghan Hands, a literacy program for Afghani women; Dubac for her work with Project Rubicon/The Mission Continues, which aids military veterans; and Sarah Jessica Parker for her advocacy for the New York City Ballet.

Menzel was cited for her own foundation, A BroaderWay, which assists underprivileged young girls from urban communities. She read a heart-tugging essay by one of her students, but she also made the audience laugh after her introduction by good friend Groban.

"He got my name right!" she quipped, referencing John Travolta's now infamous mangling of her name at the Academy Awards earlier this year.