The show must go on ... and so must the fight against one of the principal causes of death in the United States.
For the third time, numerous broadcast and cable networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, HBO and VH1 will join to simulcast
"Stand Up to Cancer"
Friday, Sept. 7. Again drawing together a wide range of celebrities, the commercial-free, hourlong special will present information on the disease while soliciting donations to help fund ongoing efforts to research and vanquish various forms of cancer.
"Stand Up to Cancer" -- which is the name not only of the television program but also of the related organization (www.standup2cancer.org) that is active year-round -- previously aired in 2008 and 2010, resulting in more than $180 million being pledged to date. With
as an executive producer, this year's edition is the first since breast cancer claimed one of the initiative's founders:
, the producer of two Oscar ceremonies and many movies including
RELATED: Patrick Swayze, Farrah Fawcett and other celebs lost to cancer
Another founder is
and the former "Today" and "CBS Evening News" anchor's crusade against cancer is well-known. She lost her attorney husband,
, to colon cancer in 1998; three years later, her sister
, a Virginia state senator, died of pancreatic cancer. While readying the Sept. 10 launch of her syndicated talk show,
Couric will be present again in "Stand Up to Cancer."
"I continue to be involved and give my input, and it's really one of my proudest accomplishments so far," she tells
. "It's so heartening and gratifying to see the whole Hollywood community give time so generously. I think it just speaks to the fact that so many people are affected by this disease. You can't go through life without experiencing it yourself or seeing someone you love go through it."
That includes Paltrow, whose producer-director father,
Bruce ("St. Elsewhere")
had oral cancer and died in 2002 while marking his daughter's birthday in Rome. "I'm so grateful to her," Couric says, "to be lending not only her star power but her intelligence and her passion to this cause. It means the world to me."
Another longtime participant in "Stand Up to Cancer" is Emmy-winning actress
, whose ABC medical mystery series
"Body of Proof"
will return for its third round at midseason. A friend of the late Ziskin, she recalls "telling Laura that I was standing onstage at the end with everyone and just had tears rolling down my face, because I was so proud to be a part of it. It was just an overwhelming sense of energy that everybody was in it together."
Indeed, Delany adds, "Everybody had this commonality of cancer. There was not one person on that stage who hadn't been affected by it in some way. I had done a video of myself getting a mammogram, which was quite embarrassing to do in front of a camera crew. And we discovered a couple of calcium deposits that were questionable, and I had them checked out, and I was fine, but I got a lot of letters from women. You find that there is such a community of people willing to help each other, it's quite powerful."
When Bruce Paltrow died, Delany was working with
-- his wife and Gwyneth's mother -- on the CBS series
Delany remembers "being there with her through that, and it was very, very painful. I was just talking to a friend of mine who had throat cancer and survived, and it's become very common lately.
Michael Douglas had it, and (Delany's 'Desperate Housewives' co-star)
Marcia Cross' husband had it. People who have never smoked have gotten it, and to treat it, you have to be really aggressive."
Last year on the Huffington Post website, Delany wrote a moving tribute to her father, who was able to see her Broadway debut before he passed "with grace and tenderness" (in her words) from pancreatic cancer in the early 1980s.
She also accompanied
Rachael Ray to get her own mammogram on the cooking expert's syndicated talk show in 2008. "She had a traveling bus," Delany notes. "Remember how they used to have the Bookmobile? Now there's the Mammogram Mobile, so that more people can have access to [the procedure], which is great."
As she nears her next "Stand Up to Cancer" appearance, Delany is pleased to have another opportunity to join other famous faces in putting the fight directly in front of the public.
"I think it helps take the onus off of it, take some of the fear away," she reasons. "When
Patrick Swayze came out and stood there and talked about his pancreatic cancer, it was so brave of him. That was a first, for a celebrity to openly say that. It makes me cry just thinking about it, but it's like, 'Oh. If that person can talk about it, maybe I can talk about it, too.' "