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Eric Rosenthal Reports

Thoughts and observations about issues, trends, and controversies in the cancer community.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes of Stand Up To Cancer

A little more than two weeks before the third Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) star-studded multi-network commercial-free live cancer awareness and fundraising telecast scheduled for Friday, Sept. 7, from 8-9 pm ET/PT from Los Angeles’s Shrine Auditorium, I spoke with the show’s co-executive producer Joel Gallen and SU2C cofounder and Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) senior vice president Kathleen Lobb.


It was the evening before Stand Up was unveiling its list of celebrities who would be participating, including: Gallen’s co-executive producer, Gwyneth Paltrow; Julia Roberts; Matt Damon; Michael Douglas; Jessica Biel; Samuel L. Jackson; Jeremy Renner; Seth Rogen; Emma Stone; Taylor Swift; Coldplay; Alicia Keys; Tim McGraw; and SU2C cofounder Katie Couric, as well as Simon Baker, Jordana Brewster, Dana Delany, Chelsea Handler, Marg Helgenberger, Rashida Jones, Joe Manganiello, Jillian Michaels, Masi Oka, Ana Maria Polo, and Alison Sweeney who would be among others staffing the phone bank.


Gallen described the program’s format as “very organic”: “You won’t feel as if it has a host. No one will introduce the speakers or musicians.  They will just speak or play. We have a limited amount of time to get as much information and entertainment in as possible, and for a fundraiser this format will save us five to seven minutes to use for important content,” he said.


The structure is the same he used when producing similar fundraising specials including “America: A Tribute to Heroes” (after 9/11), “Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast,” and “Hope For Haiti Now.” 


In fact Gallen, who runs Tenth Planet Productions and also produced and directed the “25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert,” is considered the creator of the genre.


Gallen and Paltrow will be taking over production duties that were handled by Laura Ziskin for the 2008 and 2010 telecasts.


Ziskin, who was also a SU2C cofounder and celebrated Hollywood producer, died in June 2011 following seven years of dealing with breast cancer.


Kathleen Lobb said that the program would also showcase some of the progress made over the last three years by the translational research Dream Teams (which have competed for SU2C funding for innovative research) by featuring cancer patients who benefited from the contributions made during the last three years by some of the teams.


For example, one patient whose therapy was enhanced though the efforts of the Epigenetics Dream Team, and another who was treated by members of the Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team.


Gallen said that recruiting celebrities for the telecast is often difficult because of scheduling conflicts, but that some have approached Stand Up asking to be involved while others have been asked to participate. Many have either personal connections to cancer or an interest in helping with awareness and research funding.


Just a few examples: Gwyneth Paltrow’s father, director and producer Bruce Paltrow died from oral cancer; Emma Stone, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor, stars in Laura Ziskin’s last production, “The Amazing Spider-Man”; and Seth Rogen co-produced and co-starred in “50/50,” a film loosely based on the cancer experience of a friend.


I’ll be reporting on new developments leading up to Stand Up and from the Red Carpet on Sept. 7.