Actress Anne Heche is a mommy.
Heche and her husband, Coley Laffoon, welcomed their first child, a boy, in the world last Saturday. E! Online quotes the actress's publicist saying Homer Heche Laffoon was born at an undisclosed Los Angeles hospital, tipping the scales at an even seven pounds.
Heche, 32, tied the knot with Laffoon, 27, last September -- a little more than a year after her break-up with gal pal Ellen DeGeneres.
CHRISTOPHER REEVE, JERRY ZUCKER
Paralyzed entertainer Christopher Reeve joined senators and other activists on Capitol Hill Tuesday to rally opposition to legislation that would ban any technology for replicating human genetic material, including methods considered crucial to possible cures for paralysis and other conditions.
The group used a news conference in the Hart Senate Office Building and testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to decry the measure (S. 1899), sponsored by Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Mary Landrieu, D-La.
An attempt to prevent the cloning of an entire human being, the bill would ban somatic cell nuclear transfer, a procedure where the nucleus of an ordinary cell is inserted into an emptied egg cell for any purpose related to human beings. SCNT -- often misnamed "therapeutic cloning" -- is considered vital in advancing research into embryonic human stem cells, which are capable of developing into any cell type in the body.
"I'm here today because I'm very concerned we're about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory," Reeve told the news conference. "It is amazing to me that we have to be here today, because it's so clear that embryonic stem cells ... are a miracle that could be available to us, yet there's a fear factor in this country that's really very disturbing to watch."
Movie producer Jerry Zucker, whose daughter's juvenile diabetes might one day be effectively treated with SCNT-derived therapies, told reporters the nation has a history of overcoming its fear of science to embrace technologies such as in-vitro fertilization. "If we are willing to accept the risks of nuclear power because we want to air-condition our houses, why can't we cure cancer without worrying about some worst-case scenario or the fear that some scientist down the line might create a human being?" he asked.
The Brownback-Landrieu bill mirrors a House measure that passed overwhelmingly last summer. The Senate faces increasing pressure, including an ad campaign from anti-abortion and religious groups, to act quickly on the measure.
Reeve, who was paralyzed from the neck down in an equestrian accident in 1995, said the campaign's talk of "embryo farms" and other threatening imagery is nonsense.
Passing the bill would cost the United States its preeminence in science and medicine, Reeve testified, especially since countries such as Sweden, Israel and the United Kingdom are moving forward with SCNT-related research. "Those are not rogue nations behaving irresponsibly; they are allies, no less moral than we are," he told the committee. "If we act now, we still have a chance to catch up."
(Thanks to Scott R. Burnell, UPI Science News)
Although he was overlooked for a best director Oscar nomination, Baz Luhrmann doesn't mind so much -- after all, his Oscar-nominated movie, "Moulin Rouge," won the Producers Guild of America's top film award, its star, Nicole Kidman, won a Golden Globe and is up for a best actress Oscar, and Hollywood has rediscovered the movie musical.
The PGA's Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award has proved to be somewhat predictive of the best picture Oscar. Nine of the award's 12 winners have gone on to take the top Oscar.
Luhrmann -- who is up for the Directors Guild of America's feature film honor, being presented this weekend -- conceded he didn't feel so good at first about being left off the Oscars list. "Yes, I was disappointed in the moment," he told UPI. "Ten minutes later when Nicole was nominated I was happy."
He was even happier when his movie was nominated for best picture.
Luhrmann said "Moulin Rouge"'s $170 million-plus worldwide box office gross and the home video sales have been enough to persuade producers to get more musicals on the drawing boards. He cited the upcoming movie version of the Broadway musical "Chicago," as well as recently announced plans to mount stage versions of "Strictly Ballroom" and "Moulin Rouge."
In the meantime, win or lose on Oscars night, he's satisfied that "Moulin Rouge" has proved that there is a market for movie musicals. "Nothing can change that," he said.
(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)