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H’w’d excited over embryonic cell research

GOOD MORNING: Not since the Clinton-Gore campaign days has Hollywood been galvanized to support — not a candidate — but an issue. The issue: to get President George W. to authorize funds for embryonic stem cell research. As already noted, Congressional support urging government funding has crossed party lines. One of those, a right-to-lifer, who favors the embryo stem cell research funding is Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). But you ain’t seen anything yet. Among credits for “Rat Race,” the hysterically funny Jerry Zucker Paramount pic, is the song “America Rocks!” written by Janice Kapp Perry and — Orrin G. Hatch, yup, Sen. Hatch. The song is sung by — the Hatch-Perry Singers of Provo Utah, a group of fifth and sixth grade kids. Several of them are Perry’s grandchildren, one of whom gave this song its title. Hatch had teamed with Perry, a Mormon musician and songwriter, in 1995 for “My God is Love,” a 13-song album of Christian music. Since then, he’s reportedly written more than 300 songs. “Rat Race” producer-director Jerry Zucker is no stranger to Hatch, having visited him, well as Sen. Byron Dorgen (D-N.D.) to urge the above funding. Janet and Jerry Zucker, their daughter, Katie (13) a diabetic, Lucy Fisher, Doug Wick and their daughter Tessa (10), also a diabetic, visited Hatch well as other solons last month and Zucker made a return D.C. visit just last week … Jerry Z. says, “Sen. Hatch is an accomplished musician — music is a love of his” … The Zuckers and fellow Hollywood supporters of this issue have hired a lobbyist in D.C. to fight the fight. The premiere of “Rat Race” Monday in Century City raised $420,000, which goes directly to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Stem Cell Advocacy Campaign. Paramount underwrote the preem and the lavish party — to the tune of $280,000. “Sherry Lansing is fantastic,” both the Zuckers and Lucy Fisher enthused to me. “She is a galvanizing force. She has written to President Bush, she is organizing committees and a ‘summit conference’ in the industry,” said Janet Zucker. Further, Wick’s father Charles Wick, former head of the USIA under President Reagan, has written to his friends in D.C. including Tommy Thompson, head of the Human Health Services. And Nancy Reagan is also an advocate of the research, having written to President Bush, hopeful her husband’s legacy will leave no further suffering for any one afflicted by Alzheimer’s one of the diseases targeted via the research. Marvin Davis, whose daughter has diabetes, had a conversation with President Bush about the research funding. The Davises are no strangers to the Bush family — George, pere, once worked in the Texas oil fields with/for Davis … Those attending — and buying party tables at the Las Vegas-style post-preem screening — included “High Rollers, “Big Cheeses” and Fat Cats” and crossed all political lines. GOP fundraiser Ann Dunsmore got ’em to support the evening’s program … As for the movie — “Rat Race,” it’s got more laughs per sequence than we’ve seen in a long time. The cast performs some remarkable stunts — but as producer Janet Zucker told me, “They didn’t do anything Jerry wouldn’t — or didn’t do!” And that includes flying into a cow pond, hanging from a crane, in a harness, high in the air. The cast members on hand — who even took a flying leap into the movie audience for the finale — included Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Amy Smart, Breckin Meyers, Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Lanai Chapman, Paul Rodriguez, Vince Vieluf, Wayne Knight, Gloria Allred and 30 of the film’s Lucys (Lucille Ball impersonators including two drag queens); shades of the “Flying Elvises.” All of ’em in a $52 million pic which looks double that figure. Zucker said, “John Dolgen told me, ‘I don’t care how much it costs, I want that picture made’!” (Big laugh). The cast joined the preem-goers in Along Came Mary’s casino -like party — craps, 21, roulette, etc. with prizes to winners (almost everyone!). Whatta night — whatta cause … And oh yes, Jerry Zucker has more pix perking, like the animated “Toddlers,” “Typhoid Harry, and “The Cody Brothers,” with Vince Vieluf and Seth Green.

AND TALKING ABOUT LUCY –The stamp will be available only in Hollywood that day — it goes on nationwide sale Aug. 7. The ceremony’s in the Hollywood History Museum, the former Max Factor building on Highland Avenue … And talking about Sherry Lansing — she celebrated her birthday Tuesday night with husband Billy Friedkin and his two children at L’Orangerie … Interesting note from Barbra Streisand about her upcoming holiday album — the last one she sang was “Barbra Streisand/A Christmas Album” and she recorded it in — 1967! And she recorded it despite a sore throat. She had to complete it — Columbia Records wanted it out in time for the holiday season. The songs ranged from “Jingle Bells” and “White Christmas” to “Ave Maria” and “The Lord’s Prayer.” She will not repeat any of them. She’s singing better than ever — enjoying it — and has no plans for any personal (singing) appearances … Who will be the new president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Science? There are several strong candidates in the running, admits president Bob Rehme. The new board meets Aug. 7 to elect the officers. Rehme remains on the board — but returns to his single job — pic producing, the first upcoming is “Gods and Generals,” the prequel to “Gettysburg” with Ted Turner, and the post-production of “Conviction” for Showtime.

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