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Celebrities Become Carnies for AIDS Benefit

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LOS ANGELES -- Would you pay $1,000 to have Jack Nicholson read you a bedtime story? Or perhaps you'd prefer to lie down for a massage alongside Kathy Bates, who was handing out moisturizers.

That's what folks paid (just $250 for tots) at Sunday's 15th annual Target a Time for Heroes celebrity carnival, which pulled in $1.4 million for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Brendan Fraser, Ryan Seacrest, Matthew Perry, Christina Applegate, Jessica Alba and Raquel Welch were some of the celebs working the booths.

''They're all happy to devote their time to help what my mother started,'' said Jake Glaser, the 19-year-old son of Paul Michael Glaser and his late wife, Elizabeth. Although his commitment to combat AIDS remains strong, Paul Michael stopped attending the carnivals years ago. ''This is hard for him,'' explained Jake, who is HIV-positive. ''It's the past. Losing a wife and a daughter brings back a lot.''

Nicholson's recitation of the children's book Walter the Farting Dog included sound effects that lured over more adults than kids. ''Rather an older audience for this book,'' Jack observed. He was followed on the Storytime stage by Seth Green, who read Duck for President. ''I think in the current political environment, we may do better with a duck,'' Green joked.

Perennial volunteer (and Survivor host) Jeff Probst helped kids decorate cupcakes (minus cockroaches and rat droppings). In one week, he takes off for Vanuatu (near Fiji in the Pacific) to test a new set of contestants (the next Survivor airs on CBS in September). Among the ninth season's cast, which he helped select: ''a colorful guy who would call himself a redneck, super-cute girls who appear to be fighters, a bunch of cocky guys'' and someone ''inspirational'' who Probst promised will ''make you realize you can do anything you put your mind to.''

The previous evening, Probst had been in Las Vegas hitting the blackjack tables with All-Star winner Amber Brkich and her fiancé, Rob Mariano. ''Their big debate now is do they want to get married on television,'' Probst said. ''Rob doesn't really care about getting married on television, but Amber's a businesswoman.''

Fans could wait in a long line to have their photo taken on a mock People magazine cover with Perry and Applegate. ''Usually when you're on the cover of People, it's because you've lost like 50 pounds or you got your boobs done,'' Applegate said, while Perry said he had probably landed on People's cover at least 10 times. ''I was on this television show, Friends, for awhile,'' he reminded. Shortly thereafter, Perry was informed that Courteney Cox had delivered her baby girl and promptly high-tailed it to the hospital.

Malcolm in the Middle's Frankie Muniz helped kids drive a simulated NASCAR racer. He just shelled out $5 million for a second mansion to complement the ''old'' one he purchased 10 months ago. Why the need for two homes? ''My business manager made me,'' Muniz explained, clarifying that one house is on the top of the Hollywood Hills and the other is way down at the bottom.

We caught George Lucas wandering around the grounds with his daughter, Katie. The director said the title of Star Wars: Episode III won't officially be announced until November, when the first trailer hits theaters.

But he conceded that fans on Web sites already have guessed correctly. So we threw a couple of rumored titles at him: Rise of the Empire? ''No, that's not it,'' Lucas said. How about Revenge of the Sith?

With that, Lucas smiled knowingly, backed away and teased, ''That's a possibility. Lots of titles out there . . . ''

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© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.


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