Actress Anne Heche, in her first public appearance since breaking up with comedienne Ellen DeGeneres called former partner Ellen DeGeneres a "genius'' and a "marvelous woman,” reported ABC online.
Heche, who appeared nervous and stumbled at first, took to the podium at the Beverly Hills Hilton to accept a Lucy award from Women In Film for her work developing and directing a segment of the HBO movie If These Walls Could Talk II, a story about a lesbian couple trying to conceive a baby.
The film was reportedly based on the lives of Heche and DeGeneres when they were a couple. Actress Sharon Stone, who played Heche in the film, stood near Heche as she accepted the award, but DeGeneres, who co-starred with Stone and was co-producer, was absent from the ceremony which attracted some of Hollywood's biggest female stars.
At first Heche stumbled over DeGeneres' name, prompting chuckles from the audience but she quickly recovered.
"It means so much to me to be able to have Sharon Stone and Ellen DeGen ...,'' Heche said, suddenly tongue-tied and unable to say DeGeneres' name. Then she placed her hands over her face and shouted: "Shake it out, baby!''
She started again. "No matter what you've heard,'' she said, "I love Ellen DeGeneres. She is a genius... She is a marvelous woman so dear to my life and I love her.''
The couple announced their breakup Aug. 19, describing their parting as amicable. Shortly afterward, the 31-year-old Heche was hospitalized after walking into a rural central California home in a confused state.
Police declined to elaborate on Heche's condition, with a sheriff's department spokesman in Fresno saying only that the star of Six Days, Seven Nights was suffering from "medical issues.'' A friend later said the actress was suffering from sunstroke.
Heche was treated and released and later returned to Toronto, where she was working on a film with actor Denzel Washington.
DeGeneres, 43, was the first openly gay lead on a television show. Shortly after coming out in a Time magazine cover story, she made TV history on April 30, 1997, when her character declared her homosexuality on the ABC comedy series, "Ellen.''
Shortly before accepting the award Friday, Heche, looking upbeat dressed in a powder blue jacket, told Inside Edition that she was moving on from the incident. "A breakup is an unfortunate thing in peoples' lives but we go on and hope for a happier place,'' she said.
Heche added that she was unaware of the incredible media attention that had been trained on her relationship. "Honestly I don't watch media coverage of myself. I wasn't really affected by it. I live my life and go about what I do.''
When asked about the wandering incident, Heche declined comment. When asked whether she was dating anybody else, she told reporters: "Oh please''-Albawaba.com.
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