LONG BEACH, Calif., Dec. 7 -- All those accusations of unwelcome gropes in hostile work environments? A distant memory of a recent unpleasantness, it seems. Because when the actress Jamie Lee Curtis introduced California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at his Conference on Women and Families here on Tuesday, the audience of 10,000 -- about 9,995 of them female -- gave the Republican action hero a standing ovation.
"Welcome to the estrogen festival!" announced Curtis, who described her co-star in 1994's "True Lies" as a caring, compassionate gal pal who gets it. "He is," Curtis sighed, "the ultimate girlie man."
When a top button on Curtis's silk blouse came undone onstage, the governor looked down and said, "I didn't see anything."
The applause rolled in -- and then Schwarzenegger urged the crowd to go see Curtis in her new movie, "Christmas With the Kranks." Said he, "It's a box office smash."
A few hundred nurses could be heard chanting outside the cavernous Long Beach Convention Center, protesting Schwarzenegger's decision to allow hospitals to cut back on the number of nurses.
But the governor beamed his pearly whites and said, "Pay no attention to those voices" because "those are special interests."
So the day went. A little pop. A little schlock. Mixed in with you-go-girl messages of surviving breast cancer and making a mint -- bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan. Or as California first lady Maria Shriver put it: "We are dressed to kill at the office and dressed to play at home."
The annual California conference for women got a boost this year from the star power of Schwarzenegger and his first lady, the Kennedy clanster and former NBC news anchor. She rolled out the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Crow and Queen Noor of Jordan to dish up life stories of femme-empowerment, with special appearances by Laura Schlessinger and Linda Ellerbee.
Shriver worked the crowd, saying her husband's decision to run for governor turned her life "upside down," but she was embracing her new role, working to create a museum to celebrate the achievements of California women, to encourage more volunteerism. Her advice: "Never mistake a great haircut for an empty head."
Words to live by. And lordy, her hair looked great. On the big screens, from way, way in the back, it shimmered with russet highlights and verve.
The one-day event (cost $125 per) brought together some of the highest-profile women from the executive suites -- Anne Sweeney, head of Disney ABC Television Group, and Meg Whitman, president of eBay -- to sit around (Oprah-style) and answer questions from O Magazine editor Gayle King about their struggles juggling multibillion-dollar corporations and soccer practice.
"It was very freeing to realize I couldn't do it all," Sweeney said, admitting there were days when "I forgot to pick up the kids at school."
Keeping it real: The audience dug it. (Strange, though, how no one mentioned their house staff.)
Attendees could sit through sessions on how to dress for success (with fashion guru Hal Rubenstein of In Style magazine), self-empower their world (with motivational bestseller Wayne Dyer) and untangle the confusing advice about hormone replacement therapy (it's complicated as heck).