Fergie listens to stories from recipients of meals from the Project Angel… (Dan Steinberg / AP )
When you're one of the host of young celebrities who spent the last year giving their all for Barack Obama, it can be hard to find a second act with significance.
Fergie, one of the distinctive voices of the hugely successful Black Eyed Peas, is one of the exceptions: She's found an absorbing new cause in lipstick -- and HIV prevention. The singer was in Los Angeles recently at an event for Project Angel Food, and was eager to talk about the partnership she's forged with cosmetic giant MAC in an innovative campaign, Viva Glam, to draw attention to the continuing threat that HIV/AIDS infection poses, particularly for young people who may be prone to risky sexual behavior.
Fergie, who attended Obama's inauguration and pronounced herself "awed," explained her interest in MAC's Viva Glam charity campaign in highly personal terms. "I think it's important to realize that half of all new HIV infections each year are in men and women 25 and younger. . . . I have friends that are proud of being careless, that haven't been infected or who have been and aren't bothered by it. I want to educate people."
The Grammy-nominated singer said she'd been a fan of Viva Glam's approach to the issue. "I have been following the campaign for years. . . . MAC picks people like RuPaul, Mary J. Blige -- people that are a little controversial and aren't afraid to speak their minds," she said. "I'm very proud to be a part of it."
Besides, what girl wants to pass up the chance to help formulate her own lipstick color -- a soft pink-tinged rose -- that MAC will put on sale next week as Viva Glam VI? "I went through about 10 shades before deciding on this one," Fergie said almost wistfully. She said she wanted to make sure the color worked for a variety of skin tones.
A share of the proceeds from the new lipstick will go to HIV/AIDS education, and Fergie has agreed to promote both product and cause in a series of magazine ads.
The singer said she's even remixed her song "Glamorous" as "Viva Glamorous" to promote the campaign. "It's a new house dance remix with new raps and new vocals and harmonies," she added
Who'd ever imagine a new music industry slogan -- sex, causes and rock 'n' roll?
Getting a lift on stem cell policy
President Obama's decision to expand the federal government's role in stem cell research may be controversial in some quarters, but don't expect anything but a standing ovation from the folks in Hollywood.
"For those of us who've worked in this area, this is an extraordinarily happy day," former Paramount Pictures head Sherry Lansing said of the president's decision to lift the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
Hospitals and medical research are the industry's equivalent of bipartisanship, and stem cell research has become, in many ways, the cause of the hour. In part, that's because it seems to offer hope as a way to produce new treatments that touch prominent film and television families personally: spinal injuries (Christopher Reeve); Parkinson's (Michael J. Fox) and juvenile diabetes (Jerry and Janet Zucker and Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher).
The Zuckers and friends Fisher and Wick began organizing the entertainment industry five years ago, when both families discovered their daughters had diabetes. Since then, Hollywood's stem cell research advocates have become only more powerful. (Just ask any federal candidate who comes to town looking for a political kind of fundraising.) In preparation for his announcement Monday, Obama's staff invited Lansing, the Zuckers, Fisher and Wick to attend the news conference.
Jerry Zucker said he and his wife declined the invitation because of their production schedule on "Fair Game," the movie about Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame. (Remember, she's the undercover CIA agent no one could identify. So keep it between us.)
The movie features Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, but that's not a secret; you can talk about it.
The Zuckers did watch the announcement on TV. "Government -- and, particularly, science -- needs to be conducted with reason, not ideology," said Jerry Zucker. "This was a return to reason."