Saturday, September 8, 2012

In Hollywood, fight against cancer brings out the A-list - USA TODAY

What:Stand Up to Cancer live telethon

  • Actress Minka Kelly stops on the red carpet at the Stand Up to Cancer benefit Friday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

    By Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

    Actress Minka Kelly stops on the red carpet at the Stand Up to Cancer benefit Friday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

By Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

Actress Minka Kelly stops on the red carpet at the Stand Up to Cancer benefit Friday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

When: Friday evening

Where: The Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles

Guest list: Co-executive producers Gwyneth Paltrow and Joel Gallen, Tim McGraw, Alicia Keys, Julia Roberts, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Robert Pattinson, Tom Hanks, Sofia Vergara, Taylor Swift, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Romano, Seth Rogen, Ry Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Alison Sweeney, Chelsea Handler, Dana Delany, Stacy Keibler, Donald Faison, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Ethan Zohn, Felicity Huffman, US Olympians Gabrielle Douglas and Missy Franklin, Jennie Garth, Jerry Penacoli, Jillian Michaels, Joe Manganiello, Jordana Brewster, Kobe Bryant, Marg Helgenberger, Max Greenfield, Minka Kelly, Simon Baker

Behind the telethon: In Hollywood, the C-word inspires. On Friday, the fight against cancer brought out the A-list, who appealed to the public and manned the phones as artists Alicia Keys, Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw played at the Stand Up to Cancer telethon, which aired live across 23 networks.

The power of Gwyneth's persuasion: Paltrow co-executive produced the event this year, which meant logging hours on the phone before the telethon even started. Putting it together is "difficult," she said. "It takes a lot of people to pull it off. My part in it was just kind of calling in a lot of favors. Asking some friends like Tim (she gestured at McGraw on the press line) to come sing."

When Gwyneth calls: "All she had to do was ask," said McGraw, who performed an emotional version of his song Live Like You Were Dying. "My father died of cancer, my mother had cancer when I was young and she's a survivor." The big names kept rolling out throughout the hour, from Pattinson and Timberlake to Hanks and Roberts. Each star introduced moving packages about patients and doctors fighting the disease.

Remembering Laura Ziskin: Delany was at the event in honor of her dad, who died at 56 from pancreatic cancer, and her friend, Spider-Man producer Laura Ziskin. Ziskin helped found Stand up to Cancer, and died last year after battling breast cancer. "She was an old friend of mine," said Delany. "She asked me to be part of the first (telethon). She's very present here today. Even though we lost Laura, she did an incredible thing and I still believe she will cure cancer. That was her mission, and I think she will."

Standing up for loved ones: Each of the attendees spoke openly on the red carpet of their ties to the deadly disease, including Paltrow, who lost her father Bruce to throat cancer in 2002. "There were a number of years where I would sort of be on the verge of tears when I talked about him and it's been almost a decade now and I'm sort of more used to the fact that he's not here in physical body," she said. "But I definitely feel his presence. And I think he would be happy that I'm here tonight doing this and trying to spare other people from what he went through." Stonestreet said his family had struggled with the disease as well. "My mom's a survivor of cancer â€" two forms of cancer in one year. So I'm here for her." Faison carried his aunt's memory with him. "I'm here to represent my Aunt Joy," he said. "She passed away last year on October 7."

Dress code: In un-Hollywood fashion, each attendee dressed alike, wearing a Stand Up to Cancer T-shirt paired with jeans. "This T-shirt represents way more than a tux would," said Faison. Brewster added that this was one night in Hollywood when "it's not about how you look, it's not about plugging something. It's really for something that's really important." Just back from a summer spent in Europe with boyfriend George Clooney, Keibler likened the sea of similarly dressed celebs to Mykonos, her last stop before resturning home. The T-shirt "represents that we are all one," she said. "It's (similar to) Mykonos with all the houses being painted white. There's something very universal about it."

Donations can be made through the weekend online at, via phone at 1-888-90-STAND (78263) or by texting STAND to 40202.

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