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Pushing her pet projects

Sun., June 21, 2009

Betty White has been stealing scenes for more years than most people can remember. In the new Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds comedy, “The Proposal,” she stole a puppy.

“Oh, that little Samoyed was so adorable I just walked in for a rehearsal and just automatically, without even thinking about it, took the dog away from Ryan,” White says with a chortle.

“I thought, ‘They’re never going to let me get away with that.’ But nobody said anything so that’s the way we shot it.”

There’s something natural about seeing Hollywood’s most famous animal lover with a puppy – almost as natural as hearing something outrageous come out of that sweet, grandmotherly face.

White, 87, has been in show business for more than half a century and may very well be the busiest she’s ever been.

She just signed to co-star with Kristen Bell and Jamie Lee Curtis in “You Again,” and added her voice to the animated “Ponyo,” due in August.

“My life is divided absolutely in half – half is my animal work and half is show business,” she says. “I have to stay in show business to pay for my animal charity work.”

“The Proposal” has White as the grandmother of Reynolds’ character, a man who has been cornered into marrying his boss (Bullock) so that she can get a green card.

“I had to learn a song in Eskimo. And that ain’t easy, honey,” she says. “There are no syllables that you can relate to.

“Learning the song was hard, and by the time we got to filming that dance scene it was 3:30 in the morning. It started to rain.

“Singing and dancing in the rain is fine for Gene Kelly, but it doesn’t work at 3:30 a.m. in the woods.”

The sassy act has stood White in good stead since the role that defined her, as snarky, man-crazy “Happy Homemaker” Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Her commitment to the animal healthcare Morris Animal Foundation goes back more than 40 years, as do her ties to the Los Angeles Zoo.

Says White: “Everybody who ever said I belong in a zoo, I agree!”

The birthday bunch

Actress Jane Russell is 88. Actor Bernie Kopell (“The Love Boat”) is 76. Actress Mariette Hartley is 69. Comedian Joe Flaherty (“SCTV”) is 68. Musician Ray Davies (The Kinks) is 65. Actress Meredith Baxter (“Family Ties”) is 62. Actor Michael Gross (“Family Ties”) is 62. Guitarist Nils Lofgren is 58. Cartoonist Berke Breathed (“Opus, Bloom County”) is 52. Singer Kathy Mattea is 50. Actor Doug Savant (“Desperate Housewives”) is 45. Singer Allison Moorer is 37. Actress Juliette Lewis is 36. Singer Brandon Flowers (The Killers) is 28.


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