Bernadette Peters in “Living Proof’ Beats Breast Cancer

Movie premiering on Lifetime explores lives of women saved from breast cancer by wonder drug – 3 Stars ***

By Gabrielle Pantera

HOLLYWOOD,(RushPRnews-Hollywood Today) 10/21/08 – In the television movie ‘Living Proof’, Harry Connick Jr. stars as UCLA doctor Dennis Slamon, a doctor who helps save the lives of more than 400,000 women from breast cancer. Slamon has devoted his life to finding treatments for breast cancer, developing the wonder drug Herceptin.”There are many songs of inspiration, thanks and encouragement for people in need,” says Harry Connick Jr. At the age of 13, Connick lost his mother to cancer.

Connick wrote and orchestrated “Song for the Hopeful”, which he sang with gospel singer Kim Burrell. “This is a song for people confident in their knowledge of something better to come,” says Connick. “They are hopeful. They are faithful.” ‘Song for the Hopeful’ is featured in the movie and on Connick’s upcoming album, ‘What a Night! A Christmas Album’, releasing November 2008.

‘Living Proof’ tells the story of Dr. Dennis Slamon and some of his cancer patients. Bernadette Peters stars as a retired art teacher and the first woman in Slamon’s drug trial to be saved by Herceptin. Regina King stars as a young fashion designer diagnosed at age 30. Her breast cancer goes into remission, but it comes back. She’s told she only has four months to live. Both stories are inspiring.

There are others who play a pivotal role in getting Herceptin approved. Angie Harmon stars as Lilly Tartikoff, who pushes to get money for research. She’s instrumental in getting Revlon involved in the fight against breast cancer and founded the Revlon Run/Walk for Breast Cancer.

“Since the introduction of the drug, it’s had a dramatic response for the women who respond to it,” says Dr. Dennis Slamon. “Not all women respond, but the ones who do seem to do very well. We now have long-term survivors in this subtype, which we never had before.”

‘Living Proof’ is based on the book by Robert Bazell. “In Bob’s book and in the movie, they talk about a couple of patients who really did very well, who are out now 11 or 12 years with no evidence of the disease, ” says Slamon. “So we think it’s been very effective. That’s gratifying.”

“Robert Bazell’s book is all about the whole development of the drug,” says Slamon. “I think that the story is about a lot of people who are involved in that, including and most importantly the patients who were involved in the testing of that drug. I think, in that sense, it’s a broader story than beyond just me.”

“I think all patients who have breast cancer, all patients who have any kind of cancer, should look at clinical trials,” says Salmon. “Patients never get anything less than the best available care and frequently get something that may be better, just by virtue of being on a clinical trial and having to be monitored so closely and so carefully. So I think there are a lot of advantages to seriously looking at a clinical trial and participating.”

“There’s a lot going on in clinical research,” says Slamon. “Unfortunately, in the world of cancer, maybe three to four percent of patients go on clinical trials when maybe twenty percent or more are eligible. I think the public being aware of the fact that there are these things out there, testing these new and hopefully effective treatments, is an option. The positive thing in all of this for me, in terms of having ‘Living Proof’ out there, is that it’s going to give the public a view that there is effective research going on.”

Living Proof stars Harry Connick Jr., Bernadette Peters, Regina King, Angie Harmon, Amanda Bynes, Tammy Blanchard, Jennifer Coolidge, John Benjamin Hickey, Swoosie Kurtz, Paula Cale Lisbe, Amy Madigan, and Trudie Styler. Renee Zellweger is one of the producers.

‘Living Proof’ is part of Lifetimes 14th annual Stop Breast Cancer For Life campaign for October. That includes an original PSA Campaign, online and video-on-demand content, and community outreach and advocacy for bipartisan legislation to end “drive-through” mastectomies. There’s an in-depth viewer’s guide at www.myLifetime.com, with information about clinical trials, early detection of breast cancer, and ways to get involved in community efforts to eradicate breast cancer. Three breast cancer awareness Lifetime Original Movies are being made available as video-on-demand, including the Emmy-nominated ‘Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy’.

‘Living Proof’ is definitely worth watching. It will bring tears to your eyes, so have tissues handy. The movie also gets the word out about Herceptin and the new testing their doing to see if it will help save others with different cancer. You’ll also see the bureaucracy of medical testing, why it takes so long for new cures for cancer to be ready.

Screenwriter Vivienne Radkoff tries to incorporate the medical with the emotional, but doesn’t find the type of good balance of say, ‘Gray’s Anatomy’. Sometimes the movie jumps around so much you felt a little lost. You miss parts of the patients’ lives that show what this cure really means to them.

Living Proof’
Network: Lifetime
TV Premiere: Saturday, October 18, at 9pm (ET/PT)
Internet: Streamed in its entirety on Lifetime’s site, myLifetime.com, beginning on Sunday, October 19, sponsored by Lee National Denim Day.