‘Stand Up to Cancer’ broadcast brings Hollywood out in force

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The stars of the ‘Stand Up to Cancer’ telethonette were survivors, research scientists and their supporters; for once, this was one corner of Hollywood -- Sony Picture Studios, to be exact -- where celebs were the supporting cast.

The biggest applause Friday went to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and his wife, Suzanne, for their $30-million donation, the chorus line of scientists who came out toward the end of the program and Denzel Washington. Well, come on, he is Denzel.

Dozens of stars manned the phones, and viewers who called in their donations during the show may have found themselves chatting with Sally Field, Thomas Jane, Randy Jackson, Hank Azaria, Dylan McDermott, Cindy Crawford, Seth Rogen, Cheryl Hines, Vanessa Hudgens, Emily Deschanel, Jay Leno, Mark Harmon, Marg Helgenberger, Marlee Matlin, Kyra Sedgwick or one of many others.

Indeed, the show dramatically illustrated how deeply cancer has penetrated Hollywood and the media. Some talked about their personal experiences: Katie Couric, who co-hosted with ...

... fellow network anchors Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer, said she was there to ‘stand up for’ her late husband, Jay Monahan, and sister, Emily (a Virginia state senator who died at 54 from pancreatic cancer; her memory is being honored at the University of Virginia, where the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center is now under construction). Stevie Wonder said he was there because ‘I lost someone very special, my first wife, Syreeta, to breast cancer.’

One section of the show invoked the memories of some of the stars who lost their battles to cancer, among them John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Edith Piaf, Nat King Cole, Steve McQueen, Ingrid Bergman, Walt Disney, Paul Newman and Audrey Hepburn. Patrick Swayze, who died a year ago of pancreatic cancer, appeared in a film clip while his widow, Lisa Niemi, appealed for donations.

Other personal appeals came from celebrities who are currently fighting the disease -- like Michael Douglas, who has Stage 4 throat cancer -- or have recently beat the disease, such as breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate, who was declared cancer-free two years ago after a double mastectomy.

Despite the serious and sometimes tragic subject matter, the show was full of hope and the atmosphere on the Sony soundstage was festive. After the one-hour broadcast, musicians who played other people’s music for the cameras stayed on to perform some of their own for the studio audience. Some of the celebs still answering phones cupped their ears so they could hear.


Dave Stewart announced, ‘My friend [‘Stand Up to Cancer’ producer] Laura Ziskin had a dream to end cancer and tonight I’m going to make that a reality’ and began playing the Eurythmics hit ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’; Stevie Wonder sang ‘Take the Time Out’; and Kris Kristofferson sang ‘Me and Bobby McGee.’

-- Irene Lacher