More than a hundred of Hollywood's most beautiful stars posed for a "The Beauty Book" to raise money and awareness for brain cancer. Many of them attended the Hollywood release party for the coffee table book by photographer Darren Tieste, who lost his best friend to the disease and spent nearly three years putting the book together with the help of Sarah Uphoff, whose mother lost her battle with brain cancer this summer. It sells for $39.99, with all proceeds going to two brain cancer charities.
It's been eight years since Carmen Electra lost her own mother to the disease, "but you never get over it. It was a devastating thing to see, with the chemo and losing her hair," and ultimately, inability to communicate. "So this is a very important cause for me," said Electra, who was about to shoot a commercial for Coca-Cola and a new reality show, details of which she couldn't divulge. "I've always had the habit of turning the lights off, and I love to vintage shop, " noted Electra, who's making an effort to eat less meat after watching "so many of these [food] documentaries."
Josh Duhamel and his wife Fergie, who posed for Tieste at their home, "were more than willing to be part of it and help bring awareness to the cause." He's part of the star-studded ensemble cast in "New Year's Eve," playing "a dude who's desperately trying to get back to New York to a party and you find out later on why." It opens Dec. 9.
"A friend of mine has just been diagnosed with brain cancer and I have many family members who have had cancer," confided Nicole Scherzinger, who's mentoring the "Over 30" singers on "The X Factor." "I want to thank America for voting for them and keeping them in," she said, adding that she doesn't believe it's Paula Abdul's fault that the first two eliminated acts were in her category "because she's brilliant and puts a lot of hard work into her acts. I think it's that they were groups and America didn't have enough time to connect with them individually." She hopes that her singers will be in the final three, "but I know that we have some stiff competition." Scherzinger grew up in an eco-conscious home, and it rubbed off — today she drives a hybrid car and is "the craziest person when it comes to recycling. People will be throwing something in the garbage and I'll be like, 'I told you to recycle that!'"
Hilary Duff, who's expecting her first child, a boy, this spring, shot her photo before her pregnancy. She's in the midst of a home remodel and is using low-VOC paint and bought eco-friendly bedding for the nursery, for which she found wallpaper with magnetic animal characters that can be moved around on the wall. "I haven't had any morning sickness," she reported, but have been craving jalapeños and hot sauce. "I've always been a pepper belly but this is on a whole new level," she said. The other thing I'm loving is chocolate milk. I'm not mixing the two. But I heard pregnant women mix some crazy stuff." She's singing to her son in utero. "I'm taking vocal lessons again so he's listening all the time, but I don't know if he likes it," she said.
"Cancer has touched my family. It touches everyone," said Gilles Marini, who'd rushed home to change after working all day on "Switched at Birth" in Valencia and headed to Hollywood for the event. He wouldn't have missed it as he believes that "using our image or our voice for good is crucial." His photo in the book "is one of my favorite photos. It's very James Bond-ish — I'm dressed up, finally, not naked!"
Mehcad Brooks didn't mind shedding his shirt for a good cause and to support his friends Tieste and Uphoff. Arriving with ex-"Dancing With the Stars" contestant Elisabetta Canalis but mum on their relationship, he's in L.A. for a few months until his Atlanta-based TV series "Necessary Roughness" begins production on its second season. An Environmental Media Association board member, he had to miss the EMA Awards last month. "I was in Paris visiting my sister and my cousin," he explained.
"We just found out that a friend who is battling brain cancer is being moved to hospice. That's just another reason to be here," said Rick Fox, whose girlfriend Eliza Dushku is in the book. More encouragingly, "My friend Allie Mack's father Jim is a survivor — he had brain cancer and is alive today," added Dushku. She is "still driving my Prius and we bought a tankless water heater. Solar panels are next. We do our part," said Dushku, whose brother, a conservationist, is "our green guru." She teamed up with him to make a documentary about Albania, where her father's family is from, and is seeking distribution for it. She has several projects in the works as a producer, and Fox is working on a Web-based series.
Although he and his wife Odette ("House") are in "The Beauty Book" together, Dave Annable attended solo because his Mrs. was stuck at work. "Someone has to pay the bills," laughed the former "Brothers & Sisters" star, whose in-demand spouse also starts working on the Fox midseason show "Breaking In" in January. At the photo shoot, she "made fun of every single one of my 'Zoolander' faces. I was trying to be serious," he said. "It was definitely more her wheelhouse than mine. But it was for a good cause and a good friend. We've all been touched by cancer, I've lost family and Odette has lost family." Annable, who's relishing his first free time in a long time before checking out the possibilities during the upcoming TV pilot season, said he's "gotta get a job" before his next car shopping trip, but a hybrid might be on his list "along with a nice 3D television."
Besides wanting to support his friend Uphoff, Jesse Bradford had another reason to participate in "The Beauty Book." "Five years ago, my mother had a cyst in her brain. It was benign, not cancerous, but it almost killed her. It came down to emergency surgery. A couple hours later and she might not have made it because the swelling was shutting off her brain," he said. "The point is people don't screen, people don't check themselves, people don't know enough about this. So when [Uphoff] brought it up to me it struck a chord." With two independent films awaiting distribution, "Sleeping Around" and "The Power of Few" with Christopher Walken, Bradford is angling for a TV series role. "Throughout my twenties I didn't want to be locked into anything. Now I'm 32 and I want something stable," he explained. He has a Porsche and a Prius in his garage, but drives the latter more "by far. I got the most practical car you can get. I do a lot of other stuff, too, but that's my big green investment."
TV host Samantha Harris, whose photo shoots usually tend towards the wholesome mom or fitness side, was excited about getting to "vamp it up" in a jade green dress and wear her hair up in photos that were "a little more sultry." Harris lost her father to colon cancer, her grandfather to lymphoma, and her grandmother is a breast cancer survivor, "so there is hope. The money we raise for brain cancer through selling the book is really going to help."
The mother of two girls, Josselyn, 4, and Hillary, 10 months, she's teaching her eldest "to turn the water off when she's washing her hands and brushing her teeth, and recycling, she knows that we have separate garbage cans for the recycling."
Inspired by the comfy maternity jeans she wore during her last pregnancy, Harris recently launched a premium denim line featuring jeans that have "the most give, flexibility, and comfort" in a straight leg style called Samantha by DL1961, available at boutiques, Bloomingdale's and online at Amazon, Zappos, Shopbop and DL1961.com. For the holidays she's added four colors to the dark denim wash, and isn't stopping there. "It's been an exciting endeavor, and there's a bigger plan coming together," she said.
"Brain tumors are something very close to my heart — my family has been affected," said Stacy Keibler, who hoped to help raise awareness of the fact that 17 million Americans are diagnosed with tumors each year, and that brain cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in people under 25. Keibler, who's now dating George Clooney, next stars in the dark comedy "Dysfunctional Friends" as "a bit of a gold digger. It's coming out next year."
Having lost her grandmother to a brain tumor, Rachel Hunter was eager to be involved in "The Beauty Book." Recently back from Indonesia, where she made a documentary for New Zealand TV about life there post-tsunami, the Auckland-born actress and model is otherwise "keeping a really quiet life" as an empty nester now that her son, Liam, 17, is playing hockey in Washington state and her daughter, Renee, 19, is traveling. Although she's confused by contradictory eco-messages ("one day it's you've got to use this, the next it's you've got to use that"), "you do as much as you can. You can be eco-aware as far as the garbage, not using a lot of water, turning off the electricity, that kind of stuff." She's encouraged that although her kids' generation "has seen 9/11, financial disaster, been through so much, they're surrounded by eco-awareness. And you do what you can because you're leaving [the planet] to them."
Photos: Gerri Miller