George Lopez celebrates four years of health by giving back

Ann and George Lopez

Ann and George Lopez

BY MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH

George Lopez reports that next month will mark the fourth anniversary of his kidney transplant, and “You know what? I feel fantastic. I’ve been healthy four of my 47 years, and it’s great. I sleep great. And it doesn’t pass me by a single day that there are people out there who are sick like I was and don’t even know it.”

Lopez and wife Ann — who donated one of her kidneys to George in an amazing medical match — have been deeply involved in trying to spread the word about kidney health and transplantation since he got well. Thursday (3/12), they will be hosting their annual “Keep It Hollywood” event to raise awareness for World Kidney Day at Guy’s North in Studio City, Calif.

The fact that Lopez managed to keep up with the demands of his career through the grinding exhaustion of his deteriorating health, pre-transplant, is a testimony to his force of will. Looking back, he says, “You know, the odds are against anyone succeeding in this business, and I worked a long time for it — and you know when you have something on the hook, you don’t give it up, no matter what. Also, I grew up in a family where you went to work when you were sick.

“On the other hand, with my family, sometimes if you were well, and it happened to be a really nice day, you wouldn’t go in,” he deadpans.

George has had countless letters from and encounters with people who’ve been touched by his story. “The greatest thing is when you see somebody who’s been helped,” he says. One example would be a woman in her 50’s who George met after one of his comedy concerts. She needed a kidney transplant, her daughter was a match and willing to donate to her. However, the daughter told George, ” ‘My mother thinks it’s going to destroy my life if I give her a kidney.’ I said, ‘Don’t you want to be around for your grandkids? You can live with one, resume your lives and be a healthy family.’ She had it done, in Phoenix, and things have gone good for them. They send me updates all the time.”

‘Idol’ 13 Reveal Plans, Makeovers, Hopes

We caught up with “American Idol’s” top 13 contestants as they celebrated in style at the swanky Los Angeles nightclub Area after last week’s taping. While being on the show is still sinking in for some, others are already planning their next big move on stage. “Hopefully I can get back on my piano so I can show them that I can arrange music,” said soul singer Matt Giraud. “You know how David Cook did. He just changed up everything. If I can show them that I can do that, too, and pull it off, then it’s a good thing. We’ll see what happens.”

Adam Lambert admitted that talk of the “American Idol” makeover has been discussed, but he doesn’t plan on changing much. “They can make suggestions, and I’m open to that. I like collaborations, but I don’t really want to change how I represent myself visually. It’s part of the artistic expression,” he noted while cloaked in lots of makeup, black hair with blue highlights and a black suit with black sequins. Artistic expression indeed! However, other things will be changing soon for the singer. Gone are the days of anonymity! “People screaming my name at the mall was kind of an unexpected thing,” he added. “I hope to maintain a private life. It is what it is, though. It comes with the territory. I’m comfortable with who I am, so hopefully everyone else will be, too.”

For the other singers, they’re just preparing themselves for what’s to come, which means being away from their comfort zones for a while. “Singing is my passion, but I miss my daughter,” admitted Alexis Grace. “I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I’ve been with her every day of her life. I haven’t been able to see her in a couple of weeks, so that’s been a big change for me. She’s at home in Memphis with my family. She’s probably watching me on TV, though, going crazy.”

INDUSTRY BITS: Forces on the forthcoming Matt Damon “Adjustment Bureau” movie are certainly giving themselves ample time to find the key female dancer for the movie, which isn’t slated to begin production ’til September. They’re already looking now for the young beauty, a principle in a big-city modern dance troupe, for the feature loosely based on Philip K. Dick‘s “Adjustment Team” story. It has to do with a politician (a salesman in the original) who keeps being thwarted from beginning a love affair with a dancer — opening the way for his questioning of the nature of reality and manipulative forces controlling our fates.

Casting is also underway for the part of Adam Carolla‘s annoying slacker stepson in his “Ace in the Hole” CBS pilot. The comic/radio host/actor will be playing a highly opinionated driving school instructor — something Carolla himself used to do.

And casting is underway for subsidiary roles in “Hung” — the Anne Heche-Thomas Jane-Jane Adams half-hour comedy show in the works at HBO.

With reports by Emily Feimster.


To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2009 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.