Celebs, civilians unite to fight breast cancer

GOOD MORNING: One out of every seven women in this country will get breast cancer. Every 12 minutes another woman dies of the disease, a total of 46,000 each year. And ovarian cancer claims 12,000 lives from the 20,000 diagnosed annually. But there is hope. And TV has been instrumental in portraying that hope, along with the drama that unlines it. The showbiz and civilian communities have teamed with Lifetime TV for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. The celebrity casts include Rosie O’Donnell, Pierce Brosnan, Helen Hunt, Olivia Newton-John, Halle Berry, Angela Lansbury, Jaclyn Smith, Meredith Baxter, Linda Ellerbee and Betty Ford. Some of the filmmakers are Lee Grant and Joe Feury, Suzan and Don Mischer, Lilly Tartikoff, Jean O’Neill, writer Bob Arnot, composer David Foster and many more. I spoke with several and viewed their work. You, too must watch. “Say It, Fight It, Cure It,” directed by Lee Grant, airs Oct. 5. “Doing this,” Grant said, “prime-itizes your life.” In the 90 -minute program, O’Donnell is among those who talk about cancer, Grant said. “She cleared her stage and opened up — talked about losing her mother (to cancer) when she was 10 and her mother, 38. She talked about six others on her street getting cancer. She and her sister have been living with that fear all their lives. She had a benign lump removed.” Grant also interviews a “Mrs. Minnesota” with cancer, a family where a mother and two daughters are cancer victims. It deals with them as “heroes, as are their husbands, their fathers, their sons and daughters.” Airing on Lifetime later that same night is “My Breast,” starring Meredith Baxter, about the choices a journalist makes when diagnosed with breast cancer.

PIERCE BROSNAN, WHOSE WIFE Cassie died of ovarian cancer, dramatically opens “Voices of Hope,” a one-hour special exec produced by Lilly Tartikoff and Suzan Mischer. The show is produced by the Entertainment Industry Foundation/Permanent Charities in support of the National Women’s Cancer Research Alliance. Tartikoff praised Lifetime for having “really embraced the cause. Our special launches on Lifetime but a changed format (of the show) will be used for fundraising at special events. And we hope networks will give us time either for an infomercial or for a telethon.” The Alliance involves institutions across the U.S.: Johns Hopkins, Columbia, universities of Washington, Chicago, Alabama, Texas Southwestern, and UCLA, which have joined forces. Tartikoff and Lisa Paulsen founded the Alliance with the Permanent Charities for research and prevention strategies. “Voices of Hope” are told by those who are themselves involved — in doctors’ offices, hospitals, living rooms and bedrooms. Lilly says “This program will show that science has to continue forward and we can and must make a difference.” … On Oct. 12, “Intimate Portrait: Dr. Susan Love” airs, with breast-cancer survivor Ellerbee narrating-producing the story of the famous and controversial breast surgeon. Shown on Oct. 16, “Intimate Portrait: Betty Ford” shows the First Lady’s honesty when diagnosed with breast cancer at a time when the subject was “taboo.” Ellerbee also narrates/produces this “Portrait.” Grant told me, “Thank God for the honesty of Betty Ford and Nancy Reagan” for helping to raise the nation’s consciousness (and conscience) about breast cancer. … In addition to the above, Lifetime throughout October will air “Take a Minute,” focusing on issues, people and events on breast cancer awareness, research and prevention. This is the fourth year Lifetime has been supporting the fight against breast cancer. The battle continues, but they are beginning to win, with the help garnered by those named above –and with the help of the airings on Lifetime.

“THEY TOOK THE CANCER OUT 8 years ago,” said Jack Klugman as he readies to go back on stage with Tony Randall. This time it’s in Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys,” bowing at the Cocoanut Grove Playhouse in October and moving on to the Lyceum on B’way. Klugman (with Peggy Crosby) was among the celebs at the Ahmanson bow of Simon’s newest play “Proposals” Wednesday night. Klugman, who has also toured with/TV’d “The Odd Couple” with Randall, said, “If it wasn’t for Neil Simon, I’d be painting houses!” Among the longtime Neil Simon friends and admirers at the “Proposals” out-of-town, in-work bow was writer Mel Tolkin, who worked with Simon on the Sid Caesar shows days. Simon told Tolkin he got the inspiration for “Proposals” during the those ’50s days, when Simon was married to his first wife. Simon said Paramount, now doing a bigscreen sequel to “Odd Couple,” asked him to also contemporize his 1970 “Out-Of-Towners,” the Lemmon-Sandy Dennis starrer directed by Arthur Hiller (also on hand at “Proposals”). But Simon said no, that kind of innocence doesn’t translate to today. For the same reason, he said, “Proposals” had to be set in more genteel 1950s. He’ll work on revisions (as always) as “Proposals” pedals on to Arizona. and D.C. en route to B’way.

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