Eric Rosenthal Reports

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sunday at the Screen Actors Guild Awards Among the Stars of Screens Both Big and Small

Eric Rosenthal (right) with Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family; and Lisa Paulsen of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the charitable arm of the motion picture and television industry that oversees Stand Up To Cancer


Sunday evening I had the pleasant and rare opportunity to attend the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards at the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles, where I had covered the third Stand Up To Cancer telecast (OT, 10/25/12), but my role this time was as guest not reporter and, for disclosure to avoid any conflicts of interest, I paid my own expenses.


I had been invited by Lisa Paulsen, President and CEO of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the 501(C)3 charitable arm of the motion picture and television industry that oversees SU2C and was cohost with People magazine of the Post Awards Gala.


I've covered Stand Up for OT since the cancer awareness and research-funding initiative started nearly five years ago, and written extensively about the cultural experiment between the worlds of entertainment and science, represented through Stand Up's scientific partner, the American Association for Cancer Research (OT Article Collection).


Most of my knowledge and firsthand experience has been on the scientific side, having spent 25 years involved in reporting on and communicating about cancer. But I've also had many encounters over a 40-year career meeting and interviewing celebrities, although this was one of the few times I was embedded within their ranks as an event attendee.


Keeping within the context of commenting on things related to oncology, I had occasion to chat briefly with two actors I had interviewed or nearly interviewed in the past.


At one point I spotted Mandy Patinkin who had been speaking with Dick Van Dyke, recipient of SAG's Lifetime Achievement Award. I had interviewed Patinkin in 2005 when he was participating in a news conference as a prostate cancer survivor announcing a partnership between Fortune magazine and the Prostate Cancer Foundation (OT, 3/25/05 issue).  At that time, he was preparing for his role in CBS's Criminal Minds. He is currently starring in Showtime's Homeland , and he was there at the SAG event with his wife, Kathryn Grody, actor and writer.


We talked briefly about our last conversation, and at one point Lisa Paulsen learned of Patinkin's survivorship status and mentioned SU2C's commitment to awareness about and research related to the disease.


A little later I was introduced to Eric Stonestreet of ABC’s Modern Family, whom I had almost interviewed on the SU2C red carpet in September until the extreme heat drove him inside.


Stonestreet, who previously received two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Modern Family -- which won SAG’s award for Best Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series -- spoke about the family members he had lost to cancer, including both maternal and paternal grandfathers.  He said he decided to use his success and celebrity status to do something about cancer and joined Stand Up To Cancer. Cures may come along over time, he said, but he also recognized the importance of changing cancer to be a chronic disease, having witnessed survivorship through friends and family.