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Happy Birthday to Muhammad Ali

January 14, 2002

Ten years ago, television producer George Schlatter put together a television special honoring legendary boxer Muhammad Ali on his 50th birthday. Schlatter is now climbing back into the TV ring with Ali for a new CBS special, "Muhammad Ali's 60th Birthday Celebration."

The program, whose guests will include Will Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Foxx, Anthony Hopkins and Sidney Poitier, is the latest in a frenzied series of recent activities surrounding the boxer.

"When I did the special before, I felt it was time for the country to be reminded what Ali stood for," Schlatter said. "It's now time to do it again. Until Sept. 11, there were not a lot of heroes. But Ali has been a hero for 40 years. He stood for justice and religion, and he never wavered. And he may be afflicted with Parkinson's disease, but his mind is as sharp as ever."

The one-hour special, which airs Wednesday at 9 p.m., was taped Saturday at the new Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, the new site of the Academy Awards. The day before, Ali was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame--only he had it placed on the wall of the Kodak Theatre instead of the sidewalk because "I didn't want anybody walking on it."

Besides the appearance of Smith, who portrays the boxer in the movie "Ali," the program will feature Mariah Carey singing "Happy Birthday" and musical performances by Paul Simon and Martina McBride.

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