The Hollywood community put their star power to good use Friday as an extraordinary group of entertainers, musicians, and athletes all united to support Stand Up To Cancer, a groundbreaking initiative that raises funds for innovative cancer research to provide patients with faster new therapies. Broadcast live from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, the show aired commercial free on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC as well as most cable channels, including HBO, Showtime, Starz, Encore, VH1, and E!
The one-hour telecast was co-executive produced by Gwyneth Paltrow, whose father Bruce Paltrow passed away from oral cancer in 2002. “The fight against this insidious disease is very personal for me, as it is for so many of us,” said Paltrow from the stage. “One in two men and one in three women in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, but when we all stand together, we can change the odds. When we all stand together, cancer doesn’t stand a chance. That sense of community is what the telecast is all about.”
The star-studded line-up that came out to stand up to cancer included: Reese Witherspoon, Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Tony Goldwyn, Kevin Bacon, Sofia Vergara, Jessica Alba, Mike Myers, Mira Sorvino, Marg Helgenberger, Maria Menounos, Jordana Brewster, Rob Lowe, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Anna Kendrick, Joe Manganiello and many more.
The evening featured performances by Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson along with Common and Lupe Fiasco as well as personal patient testimonials
Peabody Award-winning journalist Katie Couric, who is a Co-Founder of Stand Up To Cancer, hosted the on-stage digital lounge during the broadcast where actors and personalities took donations via social media and phone calls. On the red carpet, Couric said she couldn’t be more proud of just how many banded together to support Stand Up To Cancer’s efforts to help make a difference in the battle against the disease. “When I look at this Step and Repeat and see the more than 60 sponsors and organizations on this backdrop, I think: we have brought people together. We’re all about teamwork; we’re all about the scientists working together, and we’re all about companies working together, networks working together because we’re all in this together. And the only way we’re going to change the face of cancer is to roll up our sleeves, hold each other’s hands and work side by side together,” said Couric, who started the Jay Monahan for Gastrointestinal Health Center after her late husband who lost his battle to cancer in 1998.
Stand Up To Cancer is a 501 c (3) non-profit that was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who along with the use of the industry’s resources work to engage the public in supporting their goals to increase awareness about cancer prevention as well as the progress being made in the fight against the disease.
A fight that Stand Up To Cancer Ambassador “Chasing Life” star Italia Ricci says she is happy to be part of. “ABC Family works closely with Stand Up To Cancer, and “Chasing Life” is on ABC Family, so they would come to set and I would do pictures and interviews, and then they just kept reaching out and saying, ‘Do you want to do this? Do you want to do that?’ And I said, of course! Why would I ever say no to something like this?”
On “Chasing Life”, Ricci plays a cancer patient determined not to let the disease interrupt her life. The actress said the role has further opened her eyes to what it’s like for those living with the disease. “It’s hard because you have to put yourself through circumstances that aren’t easy to shake at the end of the night. And it’s hard because you feel guilty that when you wrap for the weekend, you don’t have cancer and you’re getting a taste of what somebody’s life who does have cancer is like and it’s horrible. But then you also are learning. You’re learning that it’s not all bad; it’s not all tears; you still laugh, you still love, you’re still living your life, so it’s sort of a dichotomy of lessons, but I’m just so grateful for it,” said Ricci. “The show has really brought me a whole new view on everything.”
E! host Maria Menounos, who participated in the on-stage digital lounge during the show, said she has seen cancer steal too many lives. “I lost my grandmother. I lost two friends this year. Everyone has been asking who are you standing up for and to me it’s everyone. I’ve done a lot of work with the Children’s Hospital and pediatric cancer, and I’ve lost so many kids throughout the year that it’s not just for one person, it’s for everybody,” said Menounos. “We’re all here to stand up to cancer.”
And stand up for it they did: as of Sunday, more than $109 million dollars had been pledged in connection with Stand Up To Cancer. One hundred percent of the donations received from the public during the show go to support collaborative cancer research programs. Donations can still be made online at www.su2c.org and at 1-888-90-STAND (78263) in US.