Past News Reports - 2003
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- January 7, 2003: The National Recording Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 45th Annual Grammy Awards that include Christopher Reeve in the category of "Best Spoken Word Album" for the audiobook of his second book Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life. The other nominees in the category are: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald read by Tim Robbins; The Kid Stays In The Picture written and read by Robert Evans; Lucky Man written and read by Michael J. Fox; and A Song Flung Up To Heaven written and read by Maya Angelou. This is the second time Reeve is nominated in this category with the first being in 1999 for his audiobook reading of Still Me that won the Grammy. The winners will be announced at the 45h Annual Grammy Awards to be held in New York City on February 23, 2003.
- January 7, 2003: Next week's TV Guide, which hits newsstands Monday, January 13th, will report that Christopher Reeve is set to make a guest appearance on the WB television drama Smallville. Reeve, who is said to be a big fan of the show and has told friends that star Tom Welling reminds him of a young Chris Reeve, will play Dr. Swann, a scientist who is going to give Clark Kent a big piece of the puzzle regarding his origins and what his destiny will be. He will share the screen with Welling in a scene scheduled to film January 17 in New York. The episode with Reeve is slated to run during the key ratings "sweep" in late February. The guest appearance next month may not be the last time Kent and Dr. Swann meet as Reeve's character was conceived as a potential recurring. The Vancouver-based production will be shot in New York City to accommodate Reeve and as part of the deal for him to guest star, the WB will run a public service announcement at the end of the episode for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.
- January 11, 2003: The Australian published an article titled Superman flies to Carr's rescue by Rodney Dalton in New York that tells how Christopher Reeve's upcoming trip to Australia came to be. The article also included quotes from Dana Reeve talking about the controversy. Dalton writes: "His arrival at Sydney airport will bring down the curtain on a 10-month behind-the-scenes production featuring players such as an Australian family friend armed with an A4 envelope, who acted as a go-between, a politician who wouldn't hear of failure, the managing director of Qantas and the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute... Unknowingly, Reeve set the ball rolling on March 20 last year at the end of a Today Show interview in which he discussed stem-cell research legislation...Reeve's interest in the debate in Australia surprised the Premier's Office, and when the interview transcript was handed to Carr, an equally passionate advocate of stem-cell research, he asked for a letter to be sent inviting Reeve to Australia. There was no response from Reeve's office...In the meantime, the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, which receives funding from the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, was thinking of ways to enlist Reeve for a fundraiser. The executive director Ian McLoskey sent the Premier a letter asking for his help to make the case. They had a head start -- a member of the institute was a friend of Gabbi Cusack, a close friend of the Reeves who worked as a nanny to their child, Will...On Saturday, September 7, last year Cusack, who was leaving the next day for the US to help celebrate Reeve's 50th birthday on September 25, sat down for a coffee at Sydney's Centennial Park kiosk with a senior Carr adviser and a top institute executive. Carr's adviser had an ordinary A4 envelope to give to Cusack containing another letter to Reeve, the Premier's articles on stem-cell research and a video of his presentation to the federal parliament on August 18...Cusack, who until then was not quite sure why she had been asked to the meeting, put the envelope in her backpack and "gave it to Chris when I got there"...Mrs Reeve credits Cusack with planting "the seed" for the Reeves' trip to Australia -- "one of those places that you just want to go see"...Via email, Cusack and Carr's office had been arranging a phone call between Reeve and the Premier on October 3. A call expected to last 10 to 15 minutes continued for almost an hour. Reeve impressed the Premier, who ended the call more confident that he would come. The question was how. Reeve had always flown privately and this was no ordinary trip. The Premier's people put out feelers to Qantas, which flies from New York to Sydney via Los Angeles. The Premier called Geoff Dixon, Qantas' managing director...On Thursday, November 28, in a late afternoon meeting at Governor Macquarie Tower, the Premier got the word from Qantas that it would foot the bill for the first-class seats -- worth about $US14,000 ($24,300) each -- and take care of any special arrangements. Three days later -- more than eight months after first trying to contact Reeve -- the Premier announced that Reeve would be the guest of honour at the two-day conference at Darling Harbour." Mrs. Reeve also commented on the controversy surrounding New South Wales taxpayers footing the exorbitant costs of their trip to Australia: "I completely understand grumblings about spending money for someone to come over to a country -- why not spend it directly? -- but the problem is in our experience is the money doesn't get spent directly." She continued, "I do know that when he shows up places he tends to raise a lot of money."
- January 14, 2003: An opinion piece by Christopher Reeve was published in The Australian in advance of Reeve's visit to Australia. Reeve wrote about being impatient for a cure, pitting government democracys against one another in a battle of "moral superiority" on the subject of research using human embryos, and pushing for unregulated or unfettered scientific inquiry for the research. Reeve wrote, "...In spite of being as impatient for recovery as millions of others living with devastating illnesses and disabilities, I learned to appreciate the sensitive nature of the stem cell issue and the need for thorough debate. What I have yet to understand is why countries that are allies, that share cultural, religious and ethical standards, none of which can rightfully claim moral superiority to any other, have enacted opposing and divisive legislation. Why is there government support for all forms of stem cell research in Britain, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Israel, Singapore and Japan, but not in the US, Germany, France, Canada or Australia? No one can say at this moment exactly what technologies or avenues of research will lead to cures. So we should err on the side of unfettered scientific inquiry; that is how we can keep hope alive..."
- January 17, 2003: At a New York press conference in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Christopher Reeve and Tom Welling talked to reporters to publicize the episode Rosetta before its filming. Heidi MacDonald attended the press conference for Mile High Comics presents... Comicon.com Pulse to write her cover story A Tale of Two Supermen. In MacDonald's article she wrote: "When asked to compare the two Supermen, Reeve scolded, "Shhhh, he doesn't know he's Superman yet!"...The door may even be open for Swann to be a recurring role, although, Reeve joked, "Let's how see this goes!" Reeve mentioned how refreshing it was to get a chance to play this role. "It's a great break from lobbying and politics,"...Asked about the upcoming Superman movie, Reeve said that producer Jon Peters had called him up a few months before. "He told me that his original idea was to do a film of Superman Vs Batman, to be directed by Wolfgang Petersen. They were pretty far into it, and then Jon saw the documentary that my son made about me and how five years after the injury I started to move." Peters was so moved that he began to rethink the idea. "Why should [they] have two superheroes fighting? The movie that Warner Brothers is making now will be a much more uplifting and spiritual story. " He declined to name anyone he thought would be suitable for the title role, but added "The character is more important than the actor who plays him because of the mythology. I'm sure that they'll take their time and find the right man. But it should be an unknown." He then looked at Welling and said "Tom, you're probably not an unknown any more."" TV Guide Online also covered the press conference for their article Superman's Reeve Flies to Smallville where Reeve is quoted talking about the character he plays: "I play a scientist who has given most of his life to advanced astronomy and looking out into the solar system," Reeve previews. "I discover some information that is very relevant to Clark, and I bombard him with e-mail and phone calls to get him to come to New York. Finally, he does, so he's going to learn some things about his character."
- January 22, 2003: The Sydney Morning Herald reports in their article Reeve heads for the beachfront that Christopher Reeve with his family and assistants, arrived in the morning in Australia after flying from New York in a specially-adapted Qantas plane. According to the article, Reeve was kept away from waiting media that included one news crew using a helicopter above the airport terminal. With assistance from aides, he was transferred into a black van on the Sydney Airport tarmac before being driven to Palm Beach. About Reeve's accommodations, The Sydney Herald wrote: "A source involved in planning Reeve's visit said that it had been planned for Reeve and his entourage to stay at a property owned by Kerry Packer. But the source said a decision was made to shift the actor to another property nearby after too many people became aware of his original accommodation plans. It is understood he is now staying at a multimillion dollar property owned by Ian Joye, who rents it to the rich and famous." This is the fourth country, outside of the United States Reeve has traveled to since his accident. In January 2000, Reeve and family were in England for vacation and speeches; in 1999 Reeve went to Canada and met with embattled Prime Minister Jean Chretien; and most recently, in November 2002, Reeve testified in Mexico.
- January 22, 2003: Three respected Australian disability intellectuals, Erik Leipoldt, Dr. Christopher Newell and Maurice Corcoran, wrote A response to Christopher Reeve's visit to Australia to rebut statements and controversal positions made by Christopher Reeve on embryonic stem cell research, living with a disability, New South Wales Premier Bob Carr and the politics surrounding Reeve's visit. In their statement they wrote that "Contrary to media stereotypes Christopher Reeve does not represent a universal disability stance on this issue. To the contrary, in his own country, America, as well as in Australia disability groups are critical of his views...Reeve wants to "err on the side of unfettered scientific inquiry" in solving impairment itself. That's how he wants to "keep hope alive". He is both misguided and misleading. His wealth and status provides a cushioning from many of the disabling effects of social marginalisation and inequality that most people with disability experience. The cure for this injustice cannot be fixed by medical science...Despite Reeve's assertion that he "learned to appreciate the sensitive nature of the stem cell issue and the need for thorough debate", the Carr/Reeve spinal forum features these two key speakers only. We are not aware of offers of free accommodation and travel (let alone speakers' fees) to those Australians with disabilities who might present alternative views." Their lengthy complete statement reads: "Like Christopher Reeve, the three of us lived through the trauma of acquired disability and have a long involvement in pursuit of many disability issues. As people with acquired mobility impairment, two of us with quadriplegia, we know only too well the stark contrasts between life with and without disability. Obviously no-one chooses to acquire a disability. But what lengths should we as individuals and as a society go through on a quest for the Holy Grail of normality? We do not support embryonic stem cell research to 'cure' conditions like quadriplegia. Contrary to media stereotypes Christopher Reeve does not represent a universal disability stance on this issue. To the contrary, in his own country, America, as well as in Australia disability groups are critical of his views. Social isolation, physical, social and attitudinal barriers create much of the suffering that can arise from having disability, including quadriplegia. It also comes from the devaluation of any human condition, which is not reflective of the societal worship of youth, agility and physical beauty. Inadequate support services, de-humanising institutions, high levels of unemployment and exclusion from regular education are some of the results of this devaluation. Besides, wars, environmental degradation, hunger, depravation and, paradoxically, many aspects of our consumerist lifestyles cause much disability. Nevertheless, amidst their difficult circumstances and given the right support, many people with significant disabilities have come to experience their lives as good as anyone's. Such phenomena of good life-satisfaction are also widely reported in research literature, including for respirator-dependent people with high levels of paralysis. But Reeve wants to "err on the side of unfettered scientific inquiry" in solving impairment itself. That's how he wants to "keep hope alive". He is both misguided and misleading. His wealth and status provides a cushioning from many of the disabling effects of social marginalisation and inequality that most people with disability experience. The cure for this injustice cannot be fixed by medical science. It concerns us greatly that the embryonic stem cell research lobby appears to be using the public's innate fears of disability, and people with disabilities, for its own ends. It presents disability as a highly emotional tragedy, an anomaly, which requires no less than a medical cure. People with disabilities have been there and found that worldview wanting. It has led to their lives being described as 'unworthy of life', culminating in their mass sterilisation in many countries and the killing of at least 200,000 of them in Nazi-Germany. Today unlawful sterilisation of girls with developmental disability and genetic screening of unborn babies with disabilities with a view to their abortion happens in Australia. A predominant medical view of their condition makes people with disabilities vulnerable to a 'cure-or-death' ethic. Why not accept us as we are? Let's err on the side of the many ethically positive steps that are perfectly well possible within current capacities of rich societies such as America and ours. That would not only keep 'hope' alive: it would contribute to a more caring, interdependent society where all people can flourish in an atmosphere of greater mutual acceptance. Having said this, we would not reject ethically uncontroversial cures. We must, as a society and as individuals, truly invest in an unfettered removal of social causes of disability, and also accept fragility as part of the human condition. Until we do this, it seems obscene to spend $46 Billion on an outlandish, ethically contested cure for what really represents a lucky few among the world's people who experience disability. But, we sense that this is not what it's all about. As in so many types of bio-research, a bunny is involved. The minimisation of many causes of socially-created suffering are in the power of politicians such as Premier Carr. Whatever advances people with disabilities have gained today is not however primarily due to vigorous efforts by people like him. They have come about by long and costly years of lobbying hard-nosed politicians by people with disabilities and their allies. Alas, we can remember few politicians who we have ever seen "infected" with a "quest" to truly assist people with disabilities to be welcomed in our communities. True political support to such ends would help. Despite Reeve's assertion that he "learned to appreciate the sensitive nature of the stem cell issue and the need for thorough debate", the Carr/Reeve spinal forum features these two key speakers only. We are not aware of offers of free accommodation and travel (let alone speakers' fees) to those Australians with disabilities who might present alternative views. But we are aware of the key speakers' convergent interests: Bob Carr's quest for his State's piece of a potentially lucrative $70 Billion embryonic stem cell industry and Reeve's obsession to walk. Oh, yes, and there's a State election coming up." Erik Leipoldt is a PhD candidate in Human services at Edith Cowan University in Perth, WA; Dr. Christopher Newell is a Senior Lecturer in Medical Ethics at the University of Tasmania; Maurice Corcoran is the President of the Physical Disability Council of Australia.
- January 23, 2003: While on "vacation" in Australia, Christopher Reeve watched his youngest son Will, 10, play hooky from his school in New York by taking a morning surfing lesson at Palm Beach. According to Herald Sun, in their article Super lobbying plan, Reeve "watched closely - and perhaps a little nervously" while his son was learning to surf and was delighted when Will stood up and rode his way into shore. Reeve made known his intentions to lobby the Australian Government to reverse its stand on therapeutic cloning research. The Australian Federal Government last year passed a bill allowing stem-cell research to proceed, along with introducing another to prohibit the practice of human cloning for three years. Reeve believes the problem is a semantic one: "People hear a certain word and have an automatic reaction to it." Reeve's trip is paid for by the taxpayers of New South Wales.
- January 24, 2003: While in Australia, "The 7.30 Report" on ABC-TV aired an interview Christopher Reeve did with Kerry O'Brien that challenged Reeve to explain his controversal views. On the second half of the interview, O'Brien talked to Reeve about wanting unregulated or "unfettered scientific inquiry" for research using human embryos, how free countries deal with the research, and Reeve's view that a democracy should suppress religious people from contacting their elected representatives about subjects they care about as citizens. When O'Brien asked Reeve about whether there are strong ethical concerns to be considered about embryonic stem cell research, Reeve gave this answer: "There are. It is something that, as I say, countries all over the world have grappled with this. But even if you think about the UK, for example, they debated the issue for a long time and the House of Lords Select Committee actually approved all forms of stem cell research. Then there was a huge objection from the pro-life groups, so they revisited the issue, had more hearings, thought about it again, and passed it a second time. And the Government has just allocated 40 million pounds for the stem cell research program, which includes therapeutic thick cloning and that is going on primarily at Cambridge, but also around the country. Now, are they less moral than Australia or Canada or Germany or the United States? No, I don't think so." O'Brien then pressed Reeve saying "But given that we are not yet a borderless world, we each as nations have to grapple with those things in our own way, don't we?" to which Reeve answered "Right". O'Brien then challenged Reeve on his view of "unfettered scientific inquiry" being open-ended to which he said, "No, it's deliberately open-ended, yes. We should err on the side of unfettered scientific inquiry. What I mean by unfettered is that when public policy is being debated, I don't think that any particular group, religious or social conservatives, I don't think that they should have a seat at the table. I think that this is public policy like a decision to go to war or various other decisions that our elected representatives make should be handled in the same way." O'Brien then challenged Reeve saying "But there are -- the society we live in now, the democracies we live in now, are so full of interest groups and public voices of one sort or another, you start limiting those voices, you start tampering with democracy, don't you, even if they come to decisions at times that you don't like?" Reeve then backpeddled saying, "No, absolutely. Everyone has a right to be heard and in the States, and I'm sure here, I know there were 50 hours of debate in Parliament before they passed the bill allowing embryonic stem cell research...". O'Brien ended the interview asking Reeve why he is so angry in his second book Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life to which Reeve answered, "That this is my life. There are days when I want the old life back again. The things that I took for granted, just as you were saying that some people in Australia take this country for granted, how beautiful it is, and what a wonderful place to live. But, yes, there are times when -- it's primarily that I didn't expect that politics would be such a determining factor in hope. I thought hope would be the product of science and funding."
- January 24, 2003: Australian Associated Press reports that Christopher Reeve spoke to journalists ahead of a two-day conference on spinal cord injury which begins on Monday telling them that he hoped to meet with and persuade Prime Minister John Howard to reduce the three-year ban on all types of cloning, including therapeutic cloning, inacted last year. In Sydney, Reeve said that he was grateful the Australian federal government had allowed the use of surplus IVF embryonic stem cells for research but that this was only half the solution: "The other piece of the puzzle is nuclear transfer." Nuclear transfer, also known as therapeutic cloning, a term Reeve said he was reluctant to use because people often confused it with reproductive cloning: "Reproductive cloning should be banned and criminalised but therapeutic cloning should be permitted." Reeve also said he hoped to meet Howard later this month to have the ban removed or reduced to allow nuclear transfer: "I would say let's think about this, a period of time that's shorter than three years." Reeve added, "Scientists need to plan and the country needs to move forward." About Howard, who last June introduced an Explanatory Memorandum to the Australia Parliment on allowing embryonic stem cell research, Reeve also added: "I am given to understand that at first the prime minister was opposed to embryonic stem cell research from unwanted embryos and he changed his mind." Reeve continued, "So I hope perhaps I might be able to make some progress on therapeutic cloning as well because he's open minded."
- January 25, 2003: The Australian published an article titled Reeve pleads for end to clone ban by Leigh Dayton and Alison Crosweller that has Prime Minister John Howard's response to Christopher Reeve's interest in personally lobbying him to permit human cloning before the three year ban is up and the subject is revisited. Dayton and Crosweller reported that while "speaking in Melbourne yesterday, the Prime Minister said he hoped to meet Reeve during his visit but signalled a reluctance to change his Government's stance."
- January 25, 2003: Following the press conference Christopher Reeve did with New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, Reeve did an interview with The Daily Telegraph for an article titled Man of steel will. In the interview Reeve talked about how he lobbies along with taking a pot shot at Catholics. Reeve started the interview commenting with a sour joke aimed about politicans he chooses to lobby saying: "You'll notice we always leave the right until last" meaning his biggest obstacle, as he explains, is getting politicians -- especially those on the right -- to lend him an ear. "In working with politicians there is no need singing to the choir." Reeve explains his technique for lobbying: "We approach our opponents always on a friendly basis, engage them in a friendly dialogue and express our point of view. And that technique has been very successful." About Catholics not approving of the controversal research he pushes for, Reeve said: "There are social and religious conservatives who consider the process of getting stem cells for nuclear transfer destruction of human life. I don't agree." As a pet example, Reeve singled out Republican U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, a Mormon from Utah, saying he opposes everything the senator stands for, except research using human embryos to which Reeve supplied unqualified explanations that eliminated the senators reservations about the research. Reeve explains: "One of the most conservative US senators is Orrin Hatch from Utah, a man with whom I would disagree on almost every level, but he took the time to hear from all sides and he has since become a sponsor of legislation which will ban reproductive cloning but allow funding for therapeutic cloning." Reeve added, "My wish is that all politicians from both sides of the aisle would just listen." About Carr, Reeve gushed: "It's a difficult topic for many people, it is controversial and he has been unwavering in his conviction that this research must be funded." Reeve added: "I think he has taken a great deal of risk going against an even greater deal of opposition but he's speaking from his heart. I commend him for that."
- January 28, 2003: A press release reveals that the BBC will air a documentary on Christopher Reeve titled, Christopher Reeve: Hope In Motion. Directed by Matthew Reeve this appears to be the UK title given to the documentary titled Christopher Reeve: Courageous Steps shown on US television last year. The documentary will be shown in the UK on Sunday February 9, on BBC1 at 9pm.
- January 28, 2003: Erik Leipoldt, a respected Australian disability scholar and quadriplegic for 25 years, wrote the editorial Of victims and heroes: Superman to the rescue in Australia? about concerns and constructive criticism involving Christopher Reeve coming to the country to politically benefit New South Wales Premier Bob Carr and promote a cure over care message. Leipoldt wrote: "...New South Wales state elections are coming up and Carr is in full election-mode right now. Cleverly, he invited "Superman" Christopher Reeve to fly in to attend a state-sponsored Spinal Forum. The Forum paid Reeve a US$75,000 speaker's fee from the public purse, but forgot to offer funds to bring in disabled Australians with alternative views to make presentations at the Forum, so the Forum had Carr and Reeve as the sole keynote speakers about the promises of ESCR. Reportedly scientists and people with disabilities were brought together at this event so that the scientists could meet the "real people" they were going to bat for. A few local NSW disability groups even came out in tacit support for the Spinal Forum, in the hope of changing the event to include a message of social inclusion. Predicably, though, any such message has been smothered with Superman"s heavy cape of cure. Reeve has dominated the Australian media from the moment his plane landed to push his unfettered-research-for-cure message. Alternative disability voices did not make the mainstream media. Reeve urged the Australians to abandon their 3-year moratorium on ESCR use for human cloning (the moratorium is in the ESCR Act of November 2002), insisting that it is another promising technique for cure. He appears as oblivious of the ethically controversial nature of ESCR as a vehicle to (his) cure as he appears to be of the adverse consequences on the status of people with disabilities caused by his "heroics". Carr got two benefits out of all this. First, he gained an unassailable media profile during his election campaign: Super Compassionate Carr with Heroic Superman. Second, his New South Wales has probably now become a more obvious place for scientists and business interests to look to set up their ESCR labs. But people with disabilities are paying a heavy price. The Australian disability movement has fought for decades to be included "as-we-are." We thought we had made some headway here. But when Christopher Reeve flies back to the USA this week, he leaves behind people with disabilities who are once more cast into a medical model of "disability as tragedy". We are left, again publicly cast as victims of our impairments -- unless, of course, we become heroic enough to deny our disability and spend all our energies on its cure, like Superman. And long after Carr is re-elected, as he surely will be, the many social causes of disability will undoubtedly still be waiting for attention. There is a lot more that is unethical about the Australian ESCR lobby than meets the eye. But the media and the public do not want to know: after all, if we can get "them" cured, we don't have to care."
- January 29, 2003: At a surprise visit they made during training, the Sydney Roosters welcomed Christopher, Dana and Will Reeve. Ricky Stuart, Sydney Roosters Halfback, presented Will Reeve with a signed Jersey. According to the article Roosters Meet Man of Steel, "Will is a Roosters fan, having followed the fortunes of the Club from his home in New York, due to a strange twist in fate. Roosters front rower, Peter Cusack's sister Gabrielle was Will's nanny and close friend of the Reeve's of many years, and through this he took an interest in Rugby League from the Internet and in particular Peter Cusack and the Roosters." The Roosters organised a game of touch football with Will that was watched by Reeve and his wife. Will reportedly will return tommorrow to training to watch the Roosters go through their paces for the World Sevens and their clash against St. Helens in the World Club Challenge.
- January 31, 2003: ABC Radio National, in Australia, broadcast Maurice Corcoran, President of the Physical Disability Council of Australia, reading his essay A response to Christopher Reeve on Perspective. Corcoran, like Erik Leipoldt, expressed concerns and constructive criticism about Christopher Reeve's trip to Australia and New South Wales Premier Bob Carr's intentions for inviting him. Corcoran said: "One hundred and thirty four thousand dollars is peanuts in any State election campaign but did you know NSW Premier Bob Carr paid that to bring Christopher Reeve to Sydney for a State-sponsored Spinal Forum this week in order to promote embryonic stem cell research. Reeve is a strong advocate of embryonic stem cell research to find a cure for disability such as his quadriplegia. Reeve's presence brought Bob Carr a great media profile and positioned the State for a piece of the potentially lucrative $70 billion dollar stem cell research industry. But at what cost? Like Reeve, many with an acquired disability such as quadriplegia know only too well, as I do, the contrasts between life with and without disability. No-one chooses to acquire a disability. But what lengths should we as individuals and society go through on a quest for the Holy Grail of normality or that magical cure. Unlike Superman, the Physical Disability Council of Australia does not support embryonic stem cell research to "cure" conditions like quadriplegia. And contrary to media stereotypes, Christopher Reeve does not represent a universal disability position on this issue. The disability movement has fought for years to promote the positive images and the value that many people with disability and a diverse population bring to society...But amidst their difficult circumstances and given the right support, many people with significant disabilities have come to experience lives as good as anyone's. But Reeve wants to "err on the side of unfettered scientific inquiry" in solving impairment itself... It concerns us greatly that the embryonic stem cell research lobby appears to be using the public's innate fears of disability, and people with disabilities, for its own ends. It presents disability as a highly emotional tragedy, an anomaly, which requires a medical cure. Just accept us as we are and don't handicap us with this attitude and an unwillingness to provide much needed access and services that enable our inclusion in society. We do not reject ethically uncontroversial cures. But let's err on the side of the many ethically uncontroversial steps needed to address the social causes of disability. Until we do this, it seems obscene to raise and spend billions of dollars on an outlandish, ethically contested cure for what really represents the wishes of a lucky few among the world's very wealthy people who experience disability...And long after the NSW election the many social causes of disability will undoubtedly still be waiting for attention. There is a lot more that is unethical about the Australian embryonic stem cell lobby than meets the eye..."
- February 4, 2003: Andrew Duncan interviews Christopher Reeve in the latest edition of the Radio Times (8-14 February 2003). Duncan poses the question, "He [Reeve] was paralysed instantly following a riding accident. So why does the former Superman feel liberated?." Reeve reveals, "I'm able to sleep well at night, to face most days with a forward-thinking outlook. If you don't, your paralysis becomes emotional as well as physical, and you'll spend time obsessing on the great times you used to have. That's a dead end. I survived an accident that should have killed me, and since then I've had no patience for a lot of trivial things in life. I appreciate simple, direct communication. I'm sure I offend people because I say exactly what I mean." Of his changed relationship with his father since he was a child Reeve says, "He realised there was more to life than being competitive with a son. Those things became trivial, allowing us to reconnect, which is terrific." Of his work as an activist Reeve talks of his battle with insurance companies to convince them to provide exercise equipment in the event that a person becomes paralysed. Of the quest to find a cure for paralysis Reeve states, "Hope for the future has to built on solid foundation though. In that way it's different from optimism or wishful thinking. Unfortunately one of the most influential components of hope is politics." At present Reeve believes that the best hope is that of stem cell research, "In somatic cell nuclear transfer, also know as therapeutic cloning, a patient's DNA is transplanted into an unfertilised egg can be developed into any kind of body tissue." Reeve states, "A number of religious groups think an unfertilised egg is already a human being. I find that hard to accept. If it is the case, there'd be funerals every time a woman menstruated. I feel that when matters of public policy are being decided, no religion should have a seat at the table." Reeve goes on to say, "No country can rightfully claim to be morally superior to any other, so why is it permissible to conduct this research in Finland, Sweeden, Switzerland, the UK, Italy, Israel, and Japan but not in the USA, Canada, France or Germany? Great scientific breakthroughs always cause controversy." He also revealed that with regards to his creative work, "There's a film and two TV pilots simmering on the back burner." Of the lessons Reeve says he has learnt is that paralysis is a choice, "It doesn't have to be physical. Many healthy people don't acheive their dreams, either because they're afraid of failure, criticism, or they lack confidence. So they paralyse themselves. I sit here physically paralysed yet I feel quite free." His advice to others? "Go for it. Live the life you dream of. It doesn't take a Superman to do that."
- February 4, 2003: In an articles in the UK TV listings magazine TV Times (AOL Keyword: TV Times) Reeve talks of his life since the horse riding accident that left him paralysed in 1995. Recalling the accident isn't easy, "Flashes of memory come back, but I try not to think about it," Reeve says. Immediately after the accident Reeve says that, "I felt very guilty. It's OK to make your own mess as long as it doesn't get in the way of other people." However the love of his family is what gave him the will to carry on, "I could tell right away that my family would rather have me around than not. Frankly, that helped me put away thoughts of suicide, because certainly my first thought was that I should go, that I was too much trouble for everybody." Asked how he copes with such physical limitations Reeve says, "The most difficult thing is simply the loss of physical contact with the human race." He admits, "I get mad at myself for being self-pitying, but sometimes I get so jealous seeing somebody get out of a chair and walk across the room. I know they're not thinking about it, but I am. I'm thinking, 'God, how did it happen to that I can't even do that?'" The documentary Christopher Reeve: Hope In Motion being shown on BBC1 on Sunday February 9 at 9pm reveals the physical improvements Reeve has gained since his accident. It is directed by Reeve's son Matthew, who according this TV Times article plans to make another documentary regarding Reeve's activism in support of stem cell research which Reeve believes is currently the biggest hope in finding a cure to paralysis. The documentary is backed by British production company TWI.
- February 10, 2003: Viewing figures released today reveal that the UK documentary Christopher Reeve: Hope In Motion shown yesterday on BBC1 pulled 5.5 million viewers, a 21% share of the audience watching TV between 9pm and 10pm. It was beaten only by ITV's drama premiere The Second Coming.
- February 10, 2003: On the heels of Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak's article from February 6th titled New Jersey's bid to become cloning capital may be cut short that mentions Christopher Reeve, New Jersey Assemblyman Neil M. Cohen (D-Union) withdrew from consideration A 2840, the mirror of Senate bill S 1909 that passed the state Senate last December, before a scheduled vote. After receiving a flood of dissent from constituents, Cohen decided to hold off and ensure that the language makes it clear that human cloning would not be permitted. Novak wrote in his column: "...The bizarre is familiar in Trenton, where conflict of interest is common among state legislators, and Republicans are divided and leaderless. GOP legislators protest that the issue is too complicated to understand. They are clear, however, in not wanting to get on the wrong side of the bill's most visible advocate, paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve. Republican lawmakers may be confused by claims from the bill's sponsors that it actually bans human cloning. They should read the Jan. 27 letter to McGreevey by four members of the President's Council on Bioethics (Robert George of Princeton, Alfonso Gomez-Lobo of Georgetown, William Hurlbut of Stanford and Gilbert Meilaender of Valparaiso University). They contend the bill 'expressly authorizes the creation of new human beings by cloning' and 'threatens to make New Jersey a haven for unethical medical practices, including the macabre practice of human fetal farming.' This measure would permit 'somatic cell nuclear transfer'--a process used in making a human clone. While supporters argue this is not cloning, the President's Council disagrees--unanimously. It reported last summer that 'the product of 'SCNT' is not only an embryo; it is also a clone, genetically virtually identical to the individual that was the source of the transferred nucleus, hence the embryonic clone of the donor.' Even the minority of the council that does not oppose research cloning agrees that SCNT amounts to human cloning. When the bill came before the Senate Dec. 16, the vote was 25-0--all 20 Democrats and five Republicans voting aye, the remaining 15 Republicans abstaining. The five GOP supporters included Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, who doubles as state party chairman. Kyrillos was reported by colleagues to have said in a party caucus: 'We can't vote against Christopher Reeve.' ('I don't remember saying that,' he told me.) Kyrillos is pro-choice, as is another of the Republican five, Sen. Bill Gormley, a failed 2000 candidate for the U.S. Senate. In Trenton, other Republican supporters did not worry about conflict with their day jobs. Sen. Robert Singer, co-majority leader of the Senate, works for the Community-Kimball Medical Center. Richard Bagger was talked about for governor before he resigned from the Senate Jan. 15 to take a promotion at the Pfizer pharmaceutical firm, where he already was employed at the time of the cloning vote...". Assemblyman Cohen had another related bill introduced today that does allow embryos to be donated for medical research making his other bill, A 2840, not necessary if this one becomes law. A 496 requires advance written directives for disposition of frozen human embryos, passed after Cohen lobbied his colleagues for over an hour, convincing five additional Democrats and Assemblyman Matthew Ahearn of the Green Party to support the bill. This bill would require doctors and other medical professionals to have couples spell out in a legally binding document what should happen to their embryos in the event they don't use them. They could donate them for scientific research, leave them to the surviving spouse, donate them to another person or couple, or order them to be destroyed. The bill also applies to single people undergoing fertility treatments. Three other states already require these legal contracts. Cohen promised to reintroduce the A 2840, but could not predict when it would be brought up again for a vote.
- February 17, 2002: TheWB.com released a Quicktime preview of the commerical Christopher Reeve and Tom Welling made for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation that will air at the end of the episode Rosetta. Smallville Spoilers at KryptonSite reports the storyline for the episode will have Clark going to the cave to place the octogonal key in the slot in the caves; minutes later finding himself lying on a road in the middle of a bridge when a school bus arrives and the driver is distracted and almost gets into an accident; Clark will make another trip to the caves with the key. A security guard patrolling the caves will hear a boom (when Clark puts the key in place) and call Lex. The guard checked the caves twice and found nothing, but Lex sees Clark unconscious on the floor; Chloe tells someone that she tried to tell Clark how she felt about him when he was sick (in the previous episode), but in his delirium, Clark only called out one name: Lana; At the mansion, Clark gets a letter delivered to him from Virgil Swann (Reeve). The card displays the Kryptonian symbol as well as Swann's address in Metropolis; and Swann will reveal a lot about two major terms that will mean a lot to him and the Superman mythology.
- February 27, 2003: The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 534 "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003", sponsored by Congressmen Dave Weldon (R-FL) and Bart Stupak (D-MI), by a vote of 241 to 155 after several hours of debate. The bill proposes a comprehensive ban on all human cloning, including cloning to create a pregnancy or for medical research. It would also make it a crime to "receive or import a cloned human embryo," with fines of $1 million and 10 years in prison. Concerned Women for America (CWA) applauded the vote in a press release that mentions Christopher Reeve. Sandy Rios, CWA's president said: "It's a good day when reason prevails. Despite the overwhelming onslaught of propaganda to convince Americans that cloning is necessary to restore the broken body of Christopher Reeve, the House has determined to rule based on truth and not false promises. And what is that truth? If this utilitarian method of research proceeds, where the weak are sacrificed for the good of the strong, a quadriplegic like Reeve would be in great danger. In addition, there is no evidence to support his hope that embryonic stem cells will offer the cure he so desires. On the contrary, adult stem cells and umbilical-cord blood have shown marvelous potential. Cloning is unnecessary, dangerous and evil. Thank God one body of our Congress understands that!" Concerned Women for America is the nation's largest public policy women's organization. President Bush released a statement praising the passage of H.R. 534: "Today's resounding bipartisan vote in the House demonstrates concern for the profound moral and social issues posed by human cloning. Like most Americans, I believe human cloning is deeply troubling, and I strongly support efforts by Congress to ban all human cloning. We must advance the promise and cause of medical science, including through ethical stem cell research, yet we must do so in ways that respect human dignity and help build a culture of life. I urge the Senate to act quickly on legislation banning all human cloning." A similar bill sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) will be considered in the Senate soon. No statement from Reeve was released.
- March 2, 2003: Christopher Reeve spoke at the MIT/Harvard Conference on Neuroscience on March 2. He said that the Bush administration has restricted stem cell research on moral grounds, disregarding the views of scientists and patient groups. Other speakers included Professor of Neuroscience Ann Graybiel, a 2001 Medal of Science winner for her study of the brain's basal ganglia, and John McDonald, a neurologist who heads the Spinal Cord Injury Program at the Washington University School of Medicine. McDonald has helped Reeve try to regain neurological function.
- March 4, 2003: The Reeve-Irvine Research Center at University of California, Irvine has been awarded a five-year, $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to confirm or refute new findings in spinal cord injury research. The grant is the first time the NIH has issued funding to duplicate other scientists' research in spinal-cord injury treatment. The contracts, the University of Miami is the other center awarded, are part of a larger spinal-cord injury research and treatment effort and are the first federal funds to finance the replication of research in the field. By replicating research, the centers hope to find the work that will lead to cures. The team of Reeve-Irvine director Oswald Steward will will focus on studies that report advances in promoting injured nerves to regenerate, as well as on research for enhancing the action of genes that either promote nerve cell growth or block other genes that code for growth-inhibiting molecules. The grant will also allow UCI researchers to develop new methods for tracking the use of experimental spinal cord injury treatments in animals. The Reeve-Irvine Research Center received two of the four contracts totaling $8 million that the NIH issued to advance spinal-cord research and injury reversal. Steward's other contract will allow him to try to figure out a way to predict how results in animal studies will translate to humans.
- March 8, 2003: Reacting to the passage of HR 534 "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003," columnist Ellen Goodman wrote the following editorial in the Washington Post which mentions the sometimes discussed possibilty of Christopher Reeve receiving an illegal cure abroad. Her Pulitzer Prize winning commentary appears in more than 450 newspapers, making her one of the two most syndicated columnists in the United States.:
BOSTON -- Never again will I underestimate the commitment of the U.S. House of Representatives to homeland security. While the whole country is on an emotional toggle switch, alternating between orange and yellow alert, the representatives nevertheless have taken time out to protect our fair country from another breed of international criminals: patients.
Last week the House passed a ban against all forms of human cloning. Not just against reproductive cloning of embryos to make babies but also against therapeutic cloning for research to cure diseases.
The bill would make it illegal for scientists, those biological terrorists, to work on this promising research within our borders. But just to make the picture complete, it would also turn patients into criminals if they imported such medical therapy from abroad.
Don't you feel safer already? Just imagine some latter-day patients arriving back in the country. Not only would they have to remove their shoes and have their carry-ons checked for dirty bombs, they'd have their bodies checked for dirty cures. If their Alzheimer's or Parkinson's treatment, or their remedy for heart disease or spinal cord injury came from cloning research, they'd be liable for a $1 million fine and 10 years in jail.
How would you like to be the person arresting Christopher Reeve at the gate?
This little piece of homeland security comes in the wake of the Raelian media invasion. The Raelians, you may recall, believe that all of us are the cloned descendents of extraterrestrials who apparently did not get frisked at the entry gate to the stratosphere.
Last December followers of the white-garbed, topknotted leader announced the birth of the first cloned baby. One cult's hoax became an entire culture's wake-up call.
For some time, there's been nearly unanimous agreement against treating people like Dollys. Many of us have been calling for a ban on reproductive cloning. But that ban on babies has been thwarted by those who insist on criminalizing medicine as well.
Anyone who has followed this debate and these debaters is aware that that real argument is not about science but politics. It's not about the status of illnesses such as diabetes; it's about the status of the embryo.
As bioethicist Art Caplan says, "The House vote reflects just one thing: the desire to get legal status for an embryo. This is the back door way to get it done. They want to get it into law that you can't destroy an embryo because it is a person."
Cloning itself involves taking an egg, removing its nucleus and adding the nucleus of an adult cell -- say, a skin cell -- back into it. It's hoped that the tailor-made stem cells could eventually be used in regenerative medicine. But the cloned embryo can't become a baby unless it's transplanted into a womb.
The scientific and moral debate over the embryo is a long and heated one. When the microscope was first invented, embryologists claimed to see teeny-weeny people in the heads of the spermatozoa. Some modern politicians sound as if they share the same view, but modern science sees an embryo as a potential life or a blueprint for life. To say that a blueprint is a human being, says Caplan, is like saying that the lumber and nails at Home Depot are a house.
Nevertheless, an embryo has a much higher moral status than lumber and nails. No one is suggesting that we clone embryos for frivolous research into, say, perfume or face cream. But what about research that may alleviate suffering and illness? Those who oppose this research talk ruefully about "creating a life to destroy it," but what about saving a life? Does the value of an embryo in a petri dish trump that of a child with a spinal cord injury in a wheelchair? Enough to turn a patient into an expatriate?
If the House bill becomes law it will be a legal edge to revisit Roe v. Wade and in vitro fertilization and genetic testing. If cooler heads prevail in the Senate -- which last year voted for a cloning ban on babies, not medicine -- then we are likely back to the status quo. An unregulated stalemate.
Abortion politics is already costing us our lead in this cutting-edge research. We've seen the beginning of a brain drain of American scientists to Britain. Countries from China to Sweden are moving ahead under the strict ethical regulations of an international agreement we refuse to sign.
Meanwhile, at home, President Bush came out in favor of the House bill, saying it would "ensure protection of human life as the frontiers of science expand." But this is where those expanding "frontiers of science" are stopped cold: right at the borders of the United States.
- March 11, 2003: Sir Michael Caine was the subject of the documentary series Hollywood Greats which aired on UK TV today. In celebration of his 70th birthday, presenter Johnathan Ross talked to Sir Michael Caine about his career in the movie industry with contributions from Billy Connolly, Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Bob Hoskins, and Christopher Reeve amongst others. Talking about Caine's film Alfie, Reeve said, "Alfie was a film that symbolised a generation. It was a very important movie of its time, just like over here in the States The Graduate was. It really spoke to a generation in the late sixties." Discussing his roles with Ross Caine said, "The most difficult love scene I ever had to do, was to kiss Chris Reeve in Deathtrap. We played two homosexuals. That was very difficult for both of us, and we drank a bottle of brandy between us working up to it, and we got so pissed we couldn't remember our lines!" Reeve said, "Sir Michael was very funny. He said to me, "Now if you close your eyes and fill up, I'll know your in love!" Reeve also revealed that, "On the set we used to play a game, changing the emphasis of song titles. There was a famous Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick song called "I'll Never Love That Way Again," and we changed it to, "I'll Never Love *That* Way Again!"" Caine went on to say, "That was the tighest lip kiss in the history of cinema I tell you!" Ross then asked, "So you didn't take him out to dinner afterwards or anything?" Caine replied, "Never sent me a card, flowers, nothing! The swine!" Ross talked to Caine about some of his 'bad' films. Reeve contributed saying, "I remember asking him [Caine] once, "Why do you do movies like The Hand, or The Swarm?" And he said, "Well I have a very high standard of living, and it takes a low standard of picture to support it." You can watch video clips of the documentary online, and viewers have been leaving their comments on the documentary. Deathtrap starring Reeve and Caine can be seen on UK satelite channel Sky Movies Cinema on Friday, March 14 at 6pm.
- March 12, 2003: Children's Miracle Network announced in a press release it will honor Christopher Reeve with the Children's Miracle Achievement Award for demonstrating a long-standing commitment to children and bettering the lives of children everywhere at its third annual event next month in Orlando. The Children's Miracle Awards presented by Delta Air Lines, a televised gala hosted by ESPN's Dan Patrick, will take place Saturday, March 22 and is scheduled to air first weekend in June on a syndicated network of 200 stations throughout the United States and Canada. Children's Miracle Network is an international non-profit organization located in Salt Lake City, Utah dedicated to helping children by raising funds and awareness for 170 children's hospitals throughout North America. Each year these non-profit hospitals treat more than 17 million children afflicted with diseases, injuries and birth defects of every kind. Past Delta Miracle Award recipients include Entertainment Tonight's Mary Hart, entertainment exec Roy Disney, actor Edward James Olmos, singer Marilyn McCoo, and sports figures Jackie Joyner Kersey, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Merlin Olsen.
- March 13, 2003: Two weeks after Christopher Reeve had outpatient surgery at University Hospitals of Cleveland under the care of Dr. Raymond Onders, an article appeared in the New York Times titled Reeve Breathing on His Own by Sandra Blakeslee about the operation. Since the surgury on February 28, Reeve may be able to wean himself permanently from the respirator as his diaphragm muscles regain strength over the next couple of months. Reeve is the third person to receive the experimental treatment, called diaphragm pacing via laparoscopy, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in 35 patients. In the treatment, tiny wires are threaded through small incisions directly into the diaphragm. Surgeons use a tubelike instrument that causes very little tissue damage, and patients go home the same day. If the federal agency approves the operation, it is expected to cost about $10,000. Reeve was a candidate for the treatment because the phrenic nerves that control breathing, which run from the spinal cord to the diaphragm, were not injured by his fall. The operation involves threading tiny wires through small incisions in the diaphragm. The wires connect the electrodes to a control box worn outside the body. The control box sends a signal to the electrodes 12 times a minute, causing the diaphragm to contract and air to be sucked into the lungs. When the nerve is unstimulated, the diaphragm relaxes and the air is expelled. The control box sends a signal to the electrodes on the diaphragm 12 times a minute, a normal breathing rate. Onders made four dime-size holes in Reeve's abdomen and threaded a specially designed laparoscope up into his left and right diaphragm muscles, then used a mapping technique to find the exact area, called the motor point, where the phrenic nerve contacts the diaphragm. When this motor point is activated, the entire diaphragm contracts. Onders implanted four electrodes in the diaphragm, two on each side, and ran connecting wires out to the chest wall. When the electrodes are stimulated with a mild current, Reeve takes a natural breath. Eventually, an external battery will automatically send electrical impulses to his diaphragm. After resting at his home in New York for a week, Reeve returned to Cleveland on Sunday for training to restore diaphragm strength. This week doctors electrically activated his diaphragm for 10 to 15 minutes and allowed him to rest for the remainder of an hour. Reeve can talk normally, though his voice is still weak without a respirator and has not risen above a whisper, but it will come back soon. At a news conference in Cleveland, Reeve said: "All you could hear was me breathing through my nose Ñ regular rhythmic breathing from my nose for the first time in nearly eight years." Reeve also has his sense of smell when the respirator is off. During one of those sessions, his medical team brought coffee, oranges and other test objects into his room. "I actually woke up and smelled the coffee," said Reeve. The first person to receive the implant, 38-year-old Tom Conlan of Medina, was paralyzed in a 1998 swimming accident. Conlan has been breathing with the help of the implants for two years, but keeps a respirator in his closet since the implants are experimental. In the second patient, the implant system failed to properly stimulate the diaphragm. The alternative treatment is a thoracotomy, in which doctors open the patient's chest to attach electrodes directly to the nerves that control breathing. But the surgery is riskier than the one Reeve underwent and costs twice as much, at $100,000. Reeve said, "My recovery doesn't mean anything if it doesn't translate into better care for other patients." Reeve's surgery, along with four other patients, was funded by a joint research project of the federal Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Surgical Corp., which makes surgical devices, with the assistance of the Veterans Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
- March 15, 2003: New Scientist magazine published The Good Fight, an interview Christopher Reeve did with Liz Else about lobbying for medical research to cure spinal cord injuries. In the interview, Reeve talks about the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, lobbying members of the U.S. Congress, and on setting dates for when he wants to walk again. When Else asked Reeve is he would put himself forward to try some of the new theapies, Reeve said: "Yes, I would, but the question is timing. For me, the comfort level would be probably coming in at phase two, when researchers have proved a treatment is safe but they want to know if it works." About motivating scientists to cure spinal cord injuries, Reeve said: "...I remember when I addressed a symposium in New Orleans in 2000. There were about 2500 neuroscientists and the majority were pure researchers. I asked if they would stop by on their way home and make a connection between the microscope and human suffering. A lot of them were really quite offended...because they are used to working at their own pace. Their livelihood becomes research: they're researchers rather than visionaries who want to get the problem solved as soon as possible - which would effectively put them out of business. But I always say to them, when research helps cure one disease, there are 20 more to work on. You're not going to be out of a job." About how the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation is run, Reeve said: "We run it like a business. Before I came on board, the scientists were more in control. They would tell the foundation what to expect or what they might do in the coming year. Since I became chairman in 1996 we've shifted over the other way. I've said, OK, we'll give you X dollars, but if you don't perform you might not get any more. So we're in the driving seat. At first it was quite an upheaval, because that's not the way it was done in the past...". On how money donated to CRPF is spent on scientists and more, Reeve said: "We give out money through our foundation and we work with pharmaceutical companies." On how CRPF lobbies for legislation, Reeve said: "...The way to change public policy is through education. When the House of Representatives voted to ban both reproductive and therapeutic cloning in 2002, they did so after only about two hours of debate. Since then we got together a group and the president of it is Michael Manganiello, senior vice-president for government affairs at the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. There's now an office in Washington, and there is lobbying on the Hill. They've spoken to the members of Congress who voted against therapeutic cloning, and they admitted they did not understand the issue...". Reeve told Else: "Don't forget that the elections are coming up in 2004 and the campaigning has already started. Seven Democrats have put their hat in the ring and announced that they are running. And the President knows now that he's on shaky ground domestically. His approval rating in terms of the economy and domestic policy is down around 46 to 47 per cent, and that's pretty low. No one would be able to become president without winning New York, California, Massachusetts, and possibly Wisconsin." When Else asked Reeve if will set future dates to walk again, Reeve said: "No, it backfires on me too much..."
- March 19, 2003: In Albany, New York, hours earlier in the same day that Operation Iraqi Freedom started, Christopher Reeve was present at a press conference held by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), the first of its kind since the Raelians claim last December that they birthed cloned human babies, to hail the overwhelming passage by a 96-46 margin of New York Assembly bill A.6249A. The bill's purpose is to vaguely "prohibit reproductive cloning and ensure that therapeutic cloning and stem cell research are conducted in a socially responsible manner." Reeve said in Silver's press release, "Because the federal government remains gridlocked on the issue of stem cell research, it now falls to the states to move the field forward. As a resident of New York State and speaking on behalf of countless others suffering from diseases and disabilities, I want to express my deepest gratitude to the Assembly for passing legislation that will allow our scientists to unlock the potential of somatic cell nuclear transfer, aka therapeutic cloning. We now call on the Senate and Governor Pataki to follow through and make New York the second state in the country to respond to the will of 70 percent of the American people." Silver said, "It is with great pride that the Assembly Majority continues its quest to put New York State in the forefront of biomedical research. The potential benefits of this groundbreaking research are far too great to ignore." Condemning the passage of A.6249A is New York State Catholic Conference which immediately called the bill a moral outrage that "authorizes the creation of human life by cloning for use in medical experiments." Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference said in their press release: "We sympathize with those who suffer illnesses or disabilities that can potentially be aided by stem-cell research. But nothing can justify the creation and killing of human beings for the purpose of possibly curing other human beings. Should this dangerous bill become law, New York State would be explicitly permitting and promoting the creation of human life for the express purpose of being killed to serve the needs of others. This bill is a moral outrage, made worse by the deceptive nature of the arguments in its favor. The sponsors are calling it a 'cloning ban,' but in fact the exact opposite is true. According to the language of the bill, doctors in New York State could clone human beings, grow them in women's wombs or in a laboratory and then kill them for the harvesting of their stem cells. The only 'ban' is that the babies created through cloning would be prohibited by law from being born." The bill now heads to the state Senate.
- April 3, 2003: A standing-room-only crowd of medical students and researchers at Yale University heard Christopher Reeve argue that social and religious conservatives "have had undue influence on the critical debate" about public policy on stem cell research. One student challenged Reeve, saying it goes against the American system of government to prevent religious groups from participating in public policy discussions. "I don't object to anyone's religion," Reeve said. "I'm a Unitarian myself. We're talking about the promise of science, the ethics of science, not religion." "Human cloning sounds bad. It sounds like science fiction," Reeve added. "Therapeutic cloning is something quite different. It shouldn't even be called cloning. It involves an unfertilized egg. No sperm is involved." By cutting off federal funding for stem cell research, President Bush risked the future of the country's scientific research, Reeve said. "We're giving away our pre-eminence in medical research."
- April 24, 2003: Dana Reeve will be in Chicago on May 8 to receive The Global Conference Institute's Healthcare Humanitarian Award for 2003. The Global Conference Institute's most prestigious award which was established in 1998, recognizes one individual in the world who has demonstrated a profound commitment and devotion to humanitarianism, has enhanced the quality of lives through his or her work, and has influenced the course of history through ongoing contributions to healhthcare and medicine. Pfizer Inc is the exclusive underwriter of the award and is the leading corporate sponsor of its 5th World Health Conference THE TRANSFORMATION OF HEALTHCARE, May 8 and 9, 2003 at The University of Chicago. "In view of your extraordinary leadership in healthcare advocacy and humanitarianism, the leadership you continue to foster for medical research funding, your compassion for critical health issues, the many lives you have touched in view of your tireless efforts for helping others, and your ongoing commitment to healthcare, humanity and all of mankind, it is truly an honor for me to recognize you as our honoree and recipient of The Global Conference Institute's Healthcare Humanitarian Award for 2003," said The Global Conference Institute's President Deborah Ziskind to Dana Reeve. "I am truly honored to be the recipient of The Global Conference Institute's Healthcare Humanitarian Award for 2003. My hope is in accepting this prestigious award, I will be able to use the opportunity to offer a deeper look into the challenges facing people with disabilities in this country and all over the world. I am in awe of the accomplishments of past recipients and I feel privileged to be included in their company. Having had the chance to attend one other world health conference presented by The Global Conference Institute in May of 2000, I am looking forward to the stimulating and educational atmosphere this event always provides," said Dana Reeve to Deborah Ziskind. Reeve joins past recipients liver transplant pioneer Thomas E. Starzl, M.D., Ph.D. (1999), leading cardiovascular surgeon and scientist Michael E. DeBakey, M.D. (2000), Nancy Brinker, founder of The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (2001), and Sharon Stone, Chairman of the Campaign for AIDS Research, the American Foundation for AIDS Research (2002) as the 5th recipient of The Global Conference Institute's Healthcare Humanitarian Award.
- May 1, 2003: Christopher Reeve has been nominated for a recent poll conducted by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom to find the 100 Greatest Movie Stars as voted by the UK public. The results of the poll are to be shown on Sunday 4 May and Monday 5 May at 9pm on Channel 4.
- May 3, 2003: In an article titled "My Brave Supergirl" published by UK newspaper The Daily Mail, Christopher Reeve talked to Annette Witheridge about his daughter Alexandra Reeve, currently a student at Yale University and Captain of the Women's Polo Team. Alexandra was formerly a pupil at St.Paul's Girls' School in London where she lives with her mother Gae Exeton who had two children with Christopher Reeve during their ten year relationship in the late 1970s and 1980s. At Yale, Alexandra is nicknamed, "Duchess" due to her 6ft 1 frame and English accent. Asked why Reeve has no objection to Alexandra riding horses and playing polo despite his own horse riding accident that left him paralysed eight years ago he said: "I am philosophical about it and wouldn't dream of forbidding Alexandra to get back on a horse just because I was unlucky. As a parent, I don't believe in making my daughter afraid, because if she went back into riding with too much fear in her heart, she might lose her concentration and injure herself. So I said, 'Yes, Alex, you do your own thing because you love it.' Her decision took a lot of courage, but above all she is doing what she wants to do. My only regret is that I can't turn back the clock and go riding with her again. Those rides were our time together. But then, there are a lot of things I loved to do with my children that are out of the question now.... But I have now come to realise that being together is more important than doing together." Asked about his insurance policies and nursing costs Reeve reveals, "'I will run out [of money] in the middle of next year.' Asked what he intends to do he clams up. It's clear he had something major up his sleeve by his defiance - a film project, maybe, or a world lecture tour, which could earn him £25,000 a night - but for now he is keeping quiet." In discussing the key to his strong marriage, Reeve's wife Dana concedes that the marriage works because they worked out their problems in their first four years together: "I think if we hadn't been in that frame of mind from the day we married I don't think we'd survive what we're going through now. I don't want to be perceived only as this doting, pure saintly wife who would do anything for her man. That's part of me but I am also many other things. I am in love with and loyal to him and I feel a sense of duty which I knew existed the day I said 'I do.' His physical care is now the responsibility of nurses. I have removed myself from that because we need to be husband and wife, not patient and care giver." The article also revealed that Alexandra's brother Matthew, a London based record producer and film maker plans to make two more documentaries about his father to follow the one that has recently been shown on US and UK Television. Reeve says, "It is important for people to see what it is really like to be paralysed. I gave Matthew access to my whole life, which is something I wouldn't do for anyone else. I felt comfortable with obviously because he's my son." Asked how he deals with the ups and downs of lobbying the US government to lift its ban on stem cell research, Reeve claims his background in acting has helped him: "In the theatre you have to perform whether you feel like it or not and when you are starting out you get a lot of rejections. You have to believe in yourself and that was good preparation for what I had to face after my accident. It enabled me to believe a new life was possible and that I could make something out of what happened."
- May 7, 2003: Christopher Reeve came to Congress on Wednesday to push for a new bill that he said would be the first to provide a comprehensive approach to treating and eventually curing paralysis. The $300 million package includes funds for research into paralysis and rehabilitation. It addresses access to treatment and quality of life issues for the 2 million Americans who have been paralyzed from spinal cord injuries, strokes and diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Reeve said science is making such rapid progress that a cure -- getting up from a wheelchair and walking -- is a "realistic" goal. He also said that someone who suffered the same injury today that he endured eight years ago might have a very different prognosis, facing less damage. "I certainly was not expected to live," he recalled in an interview after a news conference with the bill's sponsors. But some patients now being treated in trials with debris-eating cells called macrophages appear to have less damage and one patient was able to recover fully from a severe injury similar to his own, he said. Reeve has come to Congress to lobby for several bills over the years with mixed results. He was part of the successful push for more funding for the National Institutes of Health. But broader federal funding for stem cell research which he supported did not pass. This is the first time he has focused on specific legislation dealing with paralysis. "This bill could do so much," he said. "It can help with research and also quality of life -- jobs, access, recreation."
- May 8, 2003: Judy Woodruff interviewed Christopher Reeve today on CNN's Inside Politics. They discussed the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act.
- May 9, 2003: This week Christopher Reeve directed four messages filmed by celebrities as part of the new home for the U.S. Constitution to be opened in Philadelphia this July 4.
- May 9, 2003: Christopher Reeve will be in Indianapolis, Indiana, Monday, May 12, for Racing to Recovery, An Evening With Christopher Reeve: Standard Management Corp., 10689 N. Pennsylvania St., 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The evening benefits the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation and Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana. Sam Schmidt, an IRL team owner, has been a quadriplegic since crashing his car during a test session in January 2000. Auction items up for bid. Cocktail attire. Tickets: $199 per person. Info: 1-317-281-0423.
- May 9, 2003: The Hope Network Live Chat with Christopher Reeve scheduled for today was postponed until next week. As a result, the Network has extended the deadline for the submission of questions. The topic of discussion will be the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act. Visit the Hope Network site for more information and to join the Hope Network.
- June 30, 2003: Commenting on the recent death of legendary actress Katharine Hepburn, Christopher Reeve called in to American Morning and talked to Heidi Collins about knowing the late actress. In the brief interview where Reeve talked about his times with Hepburn, he said: "I think what she expected was, she always would say to me, Christopher, be fascinating, be fascinating. And I would like to say, "Well, that's easy for you to do, Ms. Hepburn. The rest of us have to work at it." It's like Babe Ruth telling a Little Leaguer just hit the ball. She always had such incredible stature and poise and grace and class. That's what I remember."
- July 8, 2003: The Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot reported that Christopher Reeve will visit Israel on July 28th as the guest of Tourism Minister Silvan Shalom. Reeve is coming to Israel on a solidarity visit that will be complex and expensive due to his health condition - coordinated by Los Angeles consul, Yuval Rotem. El Al did not agree to a request to provide a gratis round-trip to Israel for Reeve and his entourage. Reeve is coming to Israel solely as a "good-will ambassador" to meet people like Elad Wassa, 25, who was injured in May last year by a suicide bomber in the Netanya market. Wassa was left paralyzed from the chest down because of his wound. Reeve received a letter from Wassa and said that that "The letter left a deep impression. I want to meet him." Reeve will tell attack survivors that "life doesn't end with a physical injury and that they can still live a full and interesting life." Wassa added: "A kind Jewish person from Los Angeles, Alex Fishben, is helping us financially. Last week he called and said that Christopher is coming to Israel, and maybe he will meet some people who are confined to wheelchairs because of terror attacks. I asked to be included." The visit will last for five days, and over the course of his stay, Reeve will meet with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Shalom. He will visit the Western Wall and the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem and will meet with injured IDF veterans. The initiative came from Israel's consul general in Los Angeles, who is trying to organize solidarity trips to Israel by Hollywood stars. Going to Israel is a personal turnaround for Reeve, who in 1990 at a Washington, D.C. press conference held by the Creative Coalition which also had attending radical actors Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon among others, demand that the United States government not provide Israel with money and instead use it for the arts.
- July 17, 2003: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced the nominees for The 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards that include one nomination in the category of "Nonfiction Special Traditional" for Christopher Reeve's son Matthew's first television documentary Christopher Reeve: Courageous Steps that premiered on ABC. The other nominees in the category are: Benjamin Franklin, PBS; The Day the Towers Fell, History Channel; Journeys with George, HBO; and Unchained Memories: Readings From the Slave Narritives, HBO. FOX will air the prime-time telecast on Sunday, September 21, 2003.
- July 29, 2003: After leaving the Weizmann Institute of Science, Christopher Reeve went on to visit doctors and patients, including terror victims, at the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. Reeve's visit to Israel was initiated by the Foreign Ministry and the American Jewish organization 'One Family', which forges connections between families in the United States and Israelis wounded in terror attacks. Reeve said at Rehovot: "That to my great surprise, Israel is a warm and relaxed place. I didn't fear coming here. The pictures we see in the media show terrible things happening here, terror attacks and casualties - the things that make headlines. What we don't see is the normalcy, the day-to-day life, and this certainly needs to be shown to the world." Reeve met Steven Averbach who was paralyzed from the waist down in a terror attack in Jerusalem last year.
- July 29, 2003: In Rehovot, Israel, Christopher Reeve opened his tour to Israel with a visit to the Weizeman Insitute of Science where he held a press conference, met with professors, and also met Elad Wassa whom he previously corresponded with. Reeve met with the Dean of the Faculty of Biochemistry, Professor David Mirelman, who reviewed for him the varied research activities carried out in the Institute. Afterwards, he met with Professor Michal Schwartz and the members of her research team. From them, he heard details of the research that has led to the development of an experimental technique for treating spinal cord injuries, which is presently being applied to humans in clinical trials. These meetings took place in the Davidson Institute for Science Education. At the press conference, held in the "Barvaz" auditorium, Reeve said: "The Weizmann Institute, for me, has always been a symbol of the best in research. It was founded by a man with a true vision for all the sciences - from biology, to chemistry to mathematics, and others. On this campus, there are around 2000 people working together in different disciplines to advance science." About his great esteem for Israel in general, and the Weizmann Institute in particular, Reeve gushed: "Israelis are famous for their curiosity, their intellect, and their desire for knowledge, and that is very evident here, on the campus of the Weizmann Institute." Reeve added, "But there's also a personal aspect to my visit, because, after my injury, I had the honor of meeting Professor Michal Schwartz. She told me about a theory she had. A lot of people thought that it was a crazy idea, but most of the great ideas that have succeeded were at one time considered to be crazy, so I was fascinated by what she had to say. I have tracked her progress over the years and her success is exemplary. I simply wanted to come here and express my gratitude and admiration. There's a phrase in Hebrew; it says something I 've believed ever since my injury: 'Hakol Efshari' - Everything is possible." Reeve met with Elad Wassa, who survived the May 19, 2002 terrorist attack in Netanya.
- August 21, 2003: In a National Patient Safety Foundation® (NPSF) press release, it was announed that in Washington D.C., through videotape to be played at 8:15am, Christopher Reeve is scheduled to open the Second Annual Conference on Integrity and Accountability in Clinical Research talking about the importance of human subject safety in clinical trials and other research. The Conference opens November 2nd, at the Renaissance Washington D.C. Hotel. Reeve-a clinical trial participant himself-will join the Conference electronically as invited Colorado U.S. Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Conference Chair William R. Hendee, PhD, address the group in D.C. live. Hendee is senior associate dean and vice president of the Medical College of Wisconsin. The meeting will address many of the issues and recommendations in the Institute of Medicine's 2002 report on Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment that Promotes Responsible Conduct as they relate to research using human subjects. An estimated 350 professionals and patients from a variety of disciplines are expected to participate as distinguished faculty share the latest approaches and techniques on keeping clinical trial patients safe. FDA Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, MD, PhD, will deliver the closing keynote November 4th. [This event was cancelled.]
- November 10, 2003: In the November 10th issue of The New Yorker Jerome Groopman wrote a long article titled"The Reeve Effect." Mr. Groopman visited Christopher Reeve at his home after an experimental electrical-stimulation device was implanted in Reeve's abdoman which allowed him to breathe without a respirator for hours at a time. In the article, Groopman said: "Reeve is aware that his intention to recover has been dismissed, even denigrated. Yet he is not as naive as some of his doubters think. Reeve has a dogged intelligence, and in the past eight years he has developed a nuanced understanding of the biology of spinal-cord injury; he has learned how the scientific establishment sets priorities and conducts its research; and he has deciphered the ways that different branches of the government permit or bar innovative medical treatments. Reeve knows that his fame gives him unique access to the media, to politicians, and to fund-raising dollars. By exploiting these resources, he has set out to change the way things are done in the clinic, the laboratory, and the government. He believes that only by causing a revolution in all three realms does he have a chance. It is perhaps easy to view Reeve's quest as one driven by hubris; it is far from certain that he will walk again. However, the steady, incremental progress he has made is extraordinary and, to many scientists, confounding. Indeed, the results have been so encouraging that mainstream researchers are reconsidering the dogma that long-term paralysis is irreversible--and paralyzed patients around the world are beginning to follow Reeve's lead."
- November 14, 2003: In his latest interview with Barbara Walters on 20/20, Christopher Reeve did his standard interview and publicly debuted breathing off the ventilator using the experimental wires in his diaphragm. On the latest of his progress, Reeve said: "When I was injured, I only had some sensation over 12 percent of my body. And today, I have some degree of sensation over more than 70 percent." Reeve told Walters that dealing with his injury has not gotten any easier with the passage of time: "I would say it gets harder. I operate on two levels. I mean, I'm able to accept my situation, and to really work with it. And to make the best of it. That's in my nature. But I also realize I'm getting older. I'm 51 and time is ticking...So the more time goes by, the more I feel a sense of urgency. And, I can accept anything, except for, complacency."
- November 28, 2003: For the hour, the CNN primetime show Paula Zahn Now featured recent interviews Zahn did with Christopher and Dana Reeve. In the interview Reeve talked about being a participant in an experiment conducted by the U.S. Veterans Administration earlier this year on his atrophied diaphragm. Reeve told Zahn when asked what this experiment means to him and if it is a form of liberation: "I mean, it's freedom from the hose, that necktie I've been wearing for eight years. And even though I'm not totally free, because I have to have a nurse with me all the time and it's an experimental procedure, it's not approved yet -- there's still a lot of bugs in the system that have to be worked out. But it really feels like a step forward. It really feels like progress...If the nurses would go away. But they're all over me like the Secret Service. It's ridiculous. But that's part of the FDA protocol, because the electrodes can fail, the batteries can fail. I had a couple of fun times when I choked a couple of times, because breathing and eating -- I had to relearn how to do both. So I've choked on tuna fish and lettuce. If I do bread next time, it'll be a sandwich." In a light moment, Reeve also talked about his dog, Chamois, avoiding him when Zahn asked what it's like to be him. Reeve said: "Oh, it's a lot of work, I'll tell you. It is, because I've got to allocate my time so carefully. And I'm always thinking, who did I offend today? I went through a period last week where the dog didn't like me...I was crushed. I couldn't figure out what happened. But she's 11. She's a sweetheart. She loves everybody. And, I mean, we've always been afraid she would go away with the FedEx man...This is not a watchdog. This is a mush ball. And last week, I went through a phase where she didn't want to be near me. And every time I came in the room, she'd leave...So, anyway, we gradually worked it out. And, yesterday, I took her down to the mailbox and came back with her and spent time. So we're friends again. Everything is back to normal. But I'll tell you that, in the middle of the craziness of my life, that literally our dog avoiding me was very painful. So, anyway, we solved that problem." When Zahn asked Reeve who he has ticked off, he said: "Certainly the entire religious right, a lot of social conservatives, probably a lot of scientists, and some people in the disabled community who think that I shouldn't be going around talking about a cure. As a patient, as someone sitting in a wheelchair, it's our prerogative to push. And scientists, of course, are free to push back. We're not asking them to do things that are irresponsible. Just don't make a career out of research. Think about the urgency. Think about people that are suffering. And not all of them do all the time."
- December 17, 2003: In a press release IDT Entertainment announced that Christopher Reeve will direct an original feature length animated film that is set in the 1930s and is expected to be completed in early 2005. Reeve said in the press release: "Many projects cross my desk but only a few are truly captivating." Reeve added: "With the perfect blend of warmth and wit, this is a story with universal appeal that both children and their parents will love." Morris Berger, CEO of IDT Entertainment said of Reeve joining the project: "This project required a director with a combination of experience and creativity...Christopher Reeve was our first choice. We're thrilled that he will shape and guide this film from concept to completion." Reeve will oversee the entire production process, from character development, casting and set design through animation, lighting, texturing and postproduction.
- December 30, 2003: This past Sunday night in the U.S. on the ABC, TV Guide presented a special on the Greatest TV Moments of 2003. Amongst the top 10 was Christopher Reeve's appearance as Dr. Virgil Swann in the Season 2 "Smallville" episode titled "Rosetta". Tom Welling (who plays Clark Kent on the TV show) spoke briefly about working with Christopher Reeve, while Clark and Lana were nominated for Best Couple, but lost out to Ryan and Marissa from "The O.C."
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