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‘Race’ at start line

Preem screening nets $425,000 for stem cell research

Considering “Rat Race” could define the term “madcap comedy,” it was unusual that Monday’s preem was preceded by impassioned speeches for embryonic stem cell research.

Director Jerry Zucker began his pre-screening remarks by thanking the Paramount execs. His comment about finance wizard Jonathan Dolgen reading the script early and saying, “I don’t care how much it costs, just make a great movie” got a laugh.

After mentioning that stem cell research would net $425,000 from the benefit preem, he turned the mike over to his wife and producer, Janet. She spoke about how the cells are used in the lab; explained that they primarily come from the in-vitro fertilization process and otherwise would be discarded; and detailed their importance in diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer studies.

“Stem cell is the most promising research since the polio vaccine,” she said. “This could revolutionize the treatment of disease. We can’t turn our backs on this.”

Among those supporting the cause were Par’s Sherry Lansing, Dolgen and Rob Friedman; Fireworks’ Jay Firestone and Daniel Diamond; producer Sean Daniel; cast members (“brilliantly talented but emotionally imbalanced individuals,” in Jerry Zucker’s words) Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Amy Smart and Vince Vieluf; plus guests Jan de Bont, Brad Grey, Dustin Hoffman, P.J. Hogan, David O’Connor, Rob Reiner, Martin Shafer, Steve Stabler and Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe.

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