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Celebrity ‘Clean Water Caravan’ Will Make Stops in San Diego

Times Staff Writer

In anticipation of an event that will bring a busload of Hollywood glamour to a San Diego neighborhood for a grass-roots campaign, actress Morgan Fairchild visited a Golden Hill restaurant Thursday to speak in favor of Proposition 65, the initiative that proposes to toughen state toxic waste laws.

Fairchild appeared at a press conference at the Big Kitchen restaurant, where Prop. 65 promoters announced that the Hollywood Clean Water Caravan/Register to Vote campaign would be arriving in San Diego next Friday. Twenty-eight to 50 Hollywood celebrities--including Jane Fonda, Chevy Chase, Shelley Duvall, Rob Lowe, Cher and Whoopi Goldberg--are expected to make a stop here as part of a campaign effort up and down the California coast to raise money and register voters in the push to pass Proposition 65.

Speaking in front of the funky Grape Street restaurant Thursday, Fairchild said she attended the press conference to bring attention to the issue and to encourage people to vote. She plans to return with the other stars, who are traveling in a caravan of three Greyhound buses, next week.

“It is not that it is a hip thing to do,” Fairchild said of her support for the proposition. “Stars drink water too. I have as good a chance of having a deformed child in Beverly Hills as a woman drinking polluted water in Eureka.

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“We want to put the right to prosecute back in the hands of individuals,” she said. “We want to have recourse if the government won’t take action.

“We don’t have the funding to compete with corporations on the issue, but we can bring awareness. By using celebrity names we can focus on the issue. It is an issue most people feel strongly about. It’s not political--not liberal or conservative. Unsafe drinking water is something everyone is afraid of.

“Chernobyl was an accident. Why are we letting people purposely poison our own waters when we can stop it?”

Proposition 65 seeks to prevent the release of cancer-causing chemicals into drinking water by increasing enforcement efforts and stiffening penalties against toxic polluters. The measure would allow private citizens to file suit to enforce the law, should government agencies not do so.

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“This law puts the teeth into toxic regulations,” said Tom Epstein, campaign manager for the initiative.

The Hollywood campaign will officially open with a breakfast at the MGM commissary in Los Angeles. The stars will make a stop at Cal State Long Beach, then attend a fund-raising luncheon in San Diego at the Cuyamaca Club in the Executive Hotel downtown.

From 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, the celebrities will help register voters and give short speeches at a rally on Grape Street between 30th and 31st streets. The rally and party, which will feature music and mimes, is the only event in the three-day drive to be held in a residential neighborhood, caravan director Chuck Levin said. Most caravan events will be at hotels, studios and universities.

He spent 16 hours looking for an appropriate spot in San Diego, he said. He thought the neighborhood would be “wonderful for a voter registration drive” but definitely decided on it as a rally site when he heard that Whoopi Goldberg had once worked at the Big Kitchen.

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In the early 1980s, Goldberg washed dishes at the restaurant known for its breakfasts, offbeat crowd and owner Judy Forman. A sort of den mother for those pursuing alternative life styles, Forman encourages starving artists and offers support for various liberal political causes. ?

The caravan also will travel to Newport Beach, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara and San Francisco over the Sept. 26 weekend.

Los Angeles film producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron resurrected the caravan idea from Hollywood history, they said. In the 1940s, celebrities would board trains for whistle-stop tours across the country to sell war bonds. The “Victory Caravans” raised more than $800 million in war bonds.

“In any function for a cause, you have a bunch of celebrities performing and the public coming to see them. We wanted to take the celebrities to the public,” Zadan said.

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“This is traditional Americana, a Hollywood tradition. There is no reason why it still can’t be effective now,” Meron said.

Campaigners hope the nine-city tour will lengthen the rosters of registered voters and raise both money and awareness in the effort to pass Prop. 65.


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