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Ziskin meets telethon challenge head on

'Stand Up to Cancer' will be on way more channels this time

Laura Ziskin knew that this year’s “Stand Up to Cancer” telethon would face an uphill battle to meet or exceed the $100 million raised for medical research by the first event in 2008.

But “cancer doesn’t care” about economic cycles, Ziskin notes. So organizers made sure the show would be carried on five times as many channels this time. The hourlong telecast will be roadblocked at 8 p.m. on Sept. 10 across 17 broadcast and cable outlets, ranging from the Big Three (which carried the first outing) to HBO and Showtime.

“We have more platforms. So even if people give a little less, hopefully, there’ll be more of them and we can make the same money,” she says.

Ziskin, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, says she’s overwhelmed by the support the “Stand Up to Cancer” effort, backed by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, has received.

“Everybody who comes on is so articulate about their connection to cancer because everybody has one,” she says.

The telethon will originate from the Sony Pictures lot. Ziskin isn’t worried about producing a live telecast with more than 45 participants. But she is fretting about one important detail.

“The thing that is scaring us most right now is being able to park 2,000 cars,” she says. “Once we get everybody in the theater, then it’s easy. We get on with the show, we raise a lot of money, and we party.”

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