Laura Ziskin, Sherry Lansing fight cancer

Studio exec, producer support Stand Up 2 Cancer

WHO: Laura Ziskin is a film producer best known for her work with the “Spider-Man” movies. She also produced the 79th Annual Academy Awards in 2007 and the Stand Up 2 Cancer telethon in 2008. Sherry Lansing is a former actress and pioneering film studio exec. In 2005, she created the Sherry Lansing Foundation, dedicated to raising awareness and funds for cancer research. The former CEO of Paramount Pictures received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2007 Academy Awards for her work in cancer research.

WHAT: Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) was started in 2007 to enable cutting-edge research aimed at finding a cure to all types of cancer. In September of 2008, SU2C brought together more than 50 personalities from TV, film, sports and music in a special one-hour program broadcast commercial-free by NBC, ABC and CBS. In 2009, SU2C awarded $73.6 million to five multidisciplinary “dream teams” — including 200 researchers from more than 20 different institutions.

WHY: “I lost my mother to ovarian cancer when I was 40 and she was 64, and it was a horrible, horrible thing,” Lansing says. “I wanted at that time to somehow honor her memory, (and) as far back as then I wanted to become a cancer advocate to try and raise money for scientists to do research that would hopefully lead to a cure of this horrible disease.”

“I got a bad case of cancer in 2004,” Ziskin adds. “When you’re diagnosed with cancer, the last thing you want to do is join a movement, you kind of just want to crawl in a hole. But then you find out absolutely everybody you know is touched by cancer. Then, in 2007, I watched the power of (“An Inconvenient Truth”) to tip the conversation (on global warming), and I thought about the power of the medium in which I work to affect how people think and eventually behave and then it came together in this serendipitous way.”

WHAT’S NEXT: “We only fund projects that have a very unique model,” Ziskin says. “We’re only going to accelerate science and treatments if scientists work together.” The org is in conversations about another televised show for the fall of 2010.

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