LOS ANGELES -- Major League Baseball will split its attention Friday night between a full docket of games in the heat of the pennant races and the cause of ending cancer in our lifetimes.
A star-studded lineup is headed to the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles for the third biannual Stand Up To Cancer telethon, which will be streamed live at 8 p.m. ET on MLB.com and televised on MLB Network as well as ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, HBO and many more cable networks. MLB is founding partner of SU2C, and along with its 30 clubs has contributed more than $30 million since the organization's inception in 2008.
U.S. Olympic gold medalists Gabby Douglas and Missy Franklin will be on the red carpet and interacting with fans on the phone banks, along with such personalities as Gwyneth Paltrow, Taylor Swift, Sofia Vergara, Seth Rogen, Alicia Keys, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Eric Stonestreet, Tim McGraw, Ray Romano, Felicity Huffman, Simon Baker, Joe Manganiello, Chelsea Handler, Max Greenfield, Stacy Keibler, Jordana Brewster, Alison Sweeney, Dana Delany, Marg Helgenberger, Rocco DiSpirito, Diem Brown, Jillian Michaels, Ethan Zohn, Masi Oka and Ana Maria Polo.
Live performances during the commercial-free telethon are scheduled to include those by Swift, McGraw, Keys and Coldplay. The broadcast is executive produced by Paltrow and Joel Gallen of Tenth Planet Productions in collaboration with SU2C's production team.
Previous SU2C telethons were in 2008 and '10, and more than 100 stars stood up. The biggest applause in the '10 telethon went to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and his wife, Suzanne, for receiving the first Innovative Research Grant, and also to the many "dream team" scientists who came out toward the end of the emotional program.
SU2C, a program of the Entertaining Industry Foundation, is a movement created to raise funds to accelerate groundbreaking cancer research that will get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives. Utilizing the assets of the entertainment industry in unique ways, SU2C is engaging Americans of all income levels and walks of life, creating a collective and supercharged effort to beat cancer as a team. Donations are being accepted now, and 100 percent goes to research grants.
MLB this week launched a "Baseball Believes" video campaign to further support that organization, with starring appearances by Steve Carell, Colin Hanks and Ken Jeong.
Six video spots began airing on MLB.com, MLB Network, FOX and ESPN, and they will continue through the 2013 season. Each of the spots ends with a call to action for MLB fans to join baseball in the belief that cancer can be stricken in our lifetimes.
"This campaign is a part of Major League Baseball's unwavering efforts to support and help empower Stand Up To Cancer in its noble work fighting all forms of cancer through the spirit of collaboration," Selig said. "We are proud that the most memorable and improbable moments in postseason history can be used as a way to inspire people to believe that anything is possible, including an end to cancer."
"Under the steadfast leadership and dedication of Commissioner Bud Selig and all 30 teams, MLB's financial support of SU2C has been vitally important to the success of our mission," SU2C co-founder Rusty Robertson said. "Equally important is what MLB has done to help build our grassroots movement by encouraging baseball fans everywhere to support our researchers, who work tirelessly to develop new therapies for patients to save lives now."
The six new video spots were filmed at Fenway Park, and they celebrate amazing plays from postseason history. The three actors connect a shared vision of ending cancer by connecting the belief in miracles on the playing field with these four moments: Derek Jeter's "flip play" in 2001, Carlton Fisk's Game 6 walk-off homer in the 1975 World Series, Willie Mays' over-the-shoulder catch in the '54 World Series and Kirk Gibson's "Miracle Homer" in the '88 World Series.
"As the husband of a cancer survivor, I know how important it is to believe that we can beat this disease," Jeong said. "I'm proud to be a part of Stand Up To Cancer and Major League Baseball's effort to build more support for the scientists on the front lines of the fight."
The first two telethons were viewed in more than 190 countries, and more than $180 million has been pledged to date for SU2C's innovative cancer research. Since 2008, SU2C has made grants to seven multidisciplinary "dream teams" of researchers as well as to 26 young, innovative scientists who are undertaking high-risk, potentially high-reward projects to end cancer as a leading cause of death in the world today. Eighty-five institutions are currently involved.
"Everyone at MLB has helped enormously with our efforts to convey this key message: Each and every one of us has a role to play in ending cancer," SU2C co-founder Sue Schwartz said. "We are profoundly grateful for that."