Stand Up To Cancer

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Anchors see cancer benefit as a Stand Up cause

Airdate: 8-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5 (ABC, CBS and NBC)

The Republican Party, and the John McCain campaign in particular, has spent a good deal of time and money to define Barack Obama as a celebrity and turn "celebrity" into a bad word. For the strategy to succeed, it will have to overcome obstacles such as Friday night's celebrity-filled "Stand Up to Cancer" telethon to defeat cancer in all its various forms.

"Celebrity" was a golden word on this commercial-free broadcast simulcast on ABC, CBS and NBC. A multitude of stars appeared to tell their cancer stories and the stories of others, making the need for cures seem all the more urgent. Contrary to recent political ads, celebrities can be on the side of the angels.

Even more amazing than the star-studded lineup that included Patrick Swayze (diagnosed in March with pancreatic cancer), Christina Applegate (who had a double mastectomy last month) and other cancer survivors such as Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Fran Drescher was the variety of perspectives crammed into the single hour.

Introduced by normally rival newscasters Katie Couric, Brian Williams and Charles Gibson, cancer researchers reported on breakthroughs and their sense that they will soon turn the corner on the disease. Statistics were offered to show how rampant cancer remains. Cancer patients told their brave stories and stars related the stories of others. The March of Dimes was cited as historical precedent to show how large numbers of small contributions can defeat a deadly and debilitating disease.

And then there were the demonstrations of exams used to detect cancer, the first step in defeating it. After Homer Simpson got a cartoon colonoscopy, there was video of basketball great Charles Barklay getting one. Dana Delaney got a breast exam and mammogram and, bravest of all, Brad Garrett got a digital rectal exam live and onstage.

On top of all this, exec producer Laura Ziskin, herself a cancer survivor, squeezed in several performances, including James Taylor and Sheryl Crow singing "Fire and Rain" and Monica Mancini and Josh Groban singing "Imagine." For even greater star wattage, there was a video from Fashion Rocks in New York with a dozen songstresses, including Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, Mary J. Blige and Ciara, performing "Just Stand Up," a number specially written for the occasion.

Obama and McCain appeared in video clips, each saying what he would do to fight cancer if elected president. Also, philanthropist and longtime cancer donor Sidney Kimmel pledged an additional $25 million to the cause.

All in all, it was a well-organized, informative and heart-tugging look at cancer, as well as a pretty clear demonstration of the positive impact and important contributions made by celebrities.

Seligman Entertainment Inc. and Laura Ziskin Productions
Executive producer: Laura Ziskin; Supervising producer: Pamela Oas Williams; Producer: Michael B. Seligman; Co-producers: Katie Couric, Noreen Fraser, Sherry Lansing, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Kathleen Lobb, Lisa Paulsen, Ellen Ziffren, Woody Fraser; Director: Louis J. Horvitz; Writers: Laura Ziskin, Jon Macks, Dave Boone; Executive in charge of talent: Danette Herman; Production designer: Brian Stonestreet; Lighting: Robert A. Dickinson, Ted Wells


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