Published October 26, 2006
Patricia Heaton — who won an Emmy for her work on "Everyone Loves Raymond" — is taking sides in the stem-cell research debate.
She’s put herself on the opposite side of Michael J. Fox, the much-beloved actor who’s been battling Parkinson’s disease since 1991 and is a firm supporter of embryonic stem-cell research.
Heaton is now appearing in a commercial intended to persuade Missouri voters to vote against Amendment 2 on their ballot.
Fox, in his own commercial, urges voters to support the measure and Democrat Claire McCaskill, who is running for U.S. Senate against the incumbent, Jim Talent, a Republican who opposes embryonic stem-cell research.
Many scientists believe stem cell research could lead to cures for Parkinson’s and many other illnesses. Amendment 2 would constitutionally protect any embryonic stem cell research in Missouri that falls within federal law.
Heaton’s costars in the commercial are Jim Caviezel, who starred as Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ," and three Missouri sports stars — St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan, former St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner (now with the Arizona Cardinals) and Kansas City Royals designated hitter Mike Sweeney.
How ballplayers wound up in this commercial is one thing. But for Heaton, who plays on the same field as Fox — Hollywood and TV — it’s another. Suffice it to say, Fox’s many friends and supporters in Hollywood — from Steven Spielberg to the head of each network and more — know what the former "Spin City" star has been through since his diagnosis in 1991.
But it’s what Fox has done with his illness that is most impressive. Since 2001, according to federal records, his Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has raised an astonishing $80 million for research. Unlike most celebrity charities, the Fox Foundation has a Web site that even links to its most recent federal tax filing, and the filing is current.
This is an amazing achievement, considering how young the foundation is. Fox has turned his illness into something incredibly positive; the group even runs in the black, meaning its income is greater than its expenses. Last year the group finished with $7 million in the bank after giving away $17 million.
If you want to get into some real interesting reading on Parkinson’s, check out www.michaeljfox.org. Impressive!
Heaton has been a relatively unknown political ideologist to most of her fans. My guess is they will be surprised to learn about her as she attacks Fox and repudiates his claims.
Six months ago I reported that Heaton — who then was campaigning to join ABC’s talk show "The View" as a correspondent — was honorary chairwoman of the group Feminists for Life. Jane Roberts, wife of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, is a consultant. Their slogan is "Refuse to Choose."
Heaton has absolutely made a choice. The question now is whether her stance in Missouri will affect her standing in Hollywood.
We told you exclusively on Saturday, but it has since then been confirmed that producer Jermaine Dupri, boyfriend of Janet Jackson, has left Virgin Records, and the complete flop of Janet’s new album is the reason.
It’s too bad for Janet, she being to the Jacksons what Marilyn was to “The Munsters.” This makes two flops in a row. Her next move, whether or not she can stay with Virgin or find a new home, will be difficult …
I guess “Borat” backlash was in the cards. But whether the hilarious comedy opens on 800 screens or 8,000 doesn’t matter: Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles’ film is the just about the funniest movie anyone’s ever seen. Expect huge sold-out shows once word of mouth really hits.
More tomorrow on this home run of a hilariously raunchy comedy. And don’t tell me “the middle of the country” isn’t going to "get it." From Pittsburgh to Phoenix, “Borat” should have audiences doubled over with laughter …
The New York Times reported yesterday — surprise! — that payola among record companies and radio stations is still rampant despite New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s levy of millions of dollars this year against all parties involved. What Spitzer didn’t understand is that a few million bucks in fines wouldn’t deter any of these people.
At the same time, the well-reviewed — even rave-reviewed — new records in Billboard can’t get on the air because money isn’t changing hands. It will be interesting to see how Spitzer, who used this platform as part of his campaign to become governor of New York, will deal with this once he’s elected, or if the whole thing will just disappear again. …
How bad are CD sales? Well, Sean "Diddy" Combs finished at No. 1 this week in his debut for “Press Play,” with 175,000 copies sold. That’s 30,000 fewer than he did with a May 2005 release in its opening week, and about a half million short of Justin Timberlake’s debut week in September — with the Pat Boone version of Diddy’s doings …
Dionne Warwick is back on Nov. 7 with an album of duets on Concord Records. One of her partners is her 12-year-old granddaughter, Cheyenne Elliot, whom we’ve written about in the past. From the same family that gave us Whitney Houston, Cissy Houston and Dede Warwick. Look out for Cheyenne …