Disney to donate to Paul Newman’s charit

Disney officials will donate $500,000 tonight to a charity organized by actor Paul Newman.

Newman portrays the voice of a character in the new Disney/Pixar animated movie "Cars," which will have its world premiere at Lowe's Motor Speedway tonight. About 30,000 people are expected to be at the premiere.

Newman will receive a check for Association of Hole in the Wall Gang Camps.

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, in collaboration with its associated camps in the United States and abroad, provides children with cancer and other serious illnesses and conditions a camping experience.

Newman, 81, spoke Wednesday about the program during a news conference at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camps helps more than 1,000 children each summer, offering children a free camp to enjoy.

"We've had parents who would come back and say, 'This is not the same child I left here,' " Newman said. "We had no idea what a life changing experience this would be for these kids."

During the news conference, Newman spoke about several topics, from his racing career, to working in the movie, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," to the popularity of NASCAR.

"It's become popular because it's a hell of a sport, and I think people can identify very quickly with the cars," Newman said. "I'm a very competitive person and I always have been and it's hard to be competitive about something as amorphous as acting. But you can be competitive on the track."

While talking about racing, a reporter asked Newman what his credo might be.

"It is useless to put on the brakes when you're upside down," Newman replied, drawing chuckles from the reporters.

Newman also spoke of his marriage to actress Joanne Woodward, whom he married in 1958.

One reporter asked Newman if he could tell them the secret of a successful marriage.

"Impossible," he said. "There's a lot of baloney you can put out there for the record, but I don't have any idea if it holds water. I guess a sense of humor."

Another reporter mentioned Newman's success as an actor, with more than 60 years in the business, and his racing career, which included a win in the Daytona Rolex 24-hour in 1995.

That's when the reporter said it didn't seem as if Newman had any flaws. Newman just smiled.

"Ask my wife," he said. "Just look under the carpet. A lot of murky stuff."

With Newman at the track, other celebrities from the "Cars" movie were at Lowe's Motor Speedway this week, giving media interviews.

Among them were Cheech Marin, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, John Ratzenberger and Richard Petty.

During the interviews, the actors talked about everything from the first car they had, to their personal lives to future projects.


Cheech Marin

Before he had finished ducking into the room, Cheech Marin was greeting reporters with a broad smile, asking, "How are we doing boys and girls?"

And when he sat down at the table for his questions, he watched as reporters placed their MP3 and tape recorders on the table before him.

Marin didn't miss the chance to crack a joke.

"Please place your offerings," he said. "I shall judge the best one."

Marin was on hand to talk about his role as the 1959 Impala lowrider named Ramone.

During the interview, reporters asked Marin about his plans, including work with Tommy Chong, with whom he acted in "Up in Smoke" in 1978.

"The problem is, I'm perfect and Tommy is crazy," Marin said. "I'm sure that it's the same problem for him."

Marin has also worked closely with director, Robert Rodriguez.

The two have worked together for the movies, "From Dusk Till Dawn," "Desperado" and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico."

Rodriguez's next project is a segment called "Terror Planet" for the anthology movie "Grindhouse."

In typical fashion, Marin made a joke when he was asked about working with Rodriguez on the movie.

"He hasn't called me yet," he said. "Maybe he lost my number."


Larry the Cable Guy

The first car Larry the Cable Guy owned was a 1969 Formula Firebird.

"I had it for about seven days and the cops came and got it," he said. "I got arrested."

He then broke into a smile and talked about how he actually got the car from his sister.

But was that the real story? When people sit down with Larry the Cable Guy, it's hard to tell where the character ends and the real stories begin.

He said he got the deal for the voice of the tow truck character Mater in "Cars" when director John Lasseter heard about 200 voices and none of them seemed right.

Then he was watching a DVD that featured Larry the Cable Guy.

He said Lasseter told him, "The first voice on there was yours. And when I heard it I was like, 'That's the tow truck.' "

Larry continued, twisting things back to a joke, saying, "They sweetened the deal and said, 'We're going to pay you $300.' And I was on it!"

He talked about how "Cars" should attract a good crowd, because it goes for a different target audience than usual.

"They'll go see it just because its got some NASCAR guys in it," he said. "Not only that, Larry the Cable Guy is in it!"

A NASCAR fan himself, Larry spoke about some of the people he roots for, including former driver Dick Trickle as well as current Nextel Cup driver Michael Waltrip.

Larry met Waltrip after a comedy routine at a Charlotte club and the two hung out for a bit.

"He's a better NASCAR driver than a street driver," Larry said.

Larry admits he's earned his fame, but he tries not to let it go to his head.

"I like to be able to walk on my back porch and smell fresh cut hay," he said. "I like doing what I do and it's fun, but at the end of the day I'm the same person I've always been."


Bonnie Hunt

Bonnie Hunt portrays a 2002 Porsche 911 named Sally Carrera in the film "Cars," but her first ride was a far cry from something so nice.

"I had a 1975 Ford Grenada with Bondo on the side and a hole between the gas and the brake and it cost $400 and I had to pay $100 a month," she said. "I actually sold it to another kid the neighborhood."

She said she sold it for about $20 when she was done with it.

"Literally to just get it off my hands," she said.

This is Hunt's third outing with Pixar and she said she's always amazed at what the artists come up with for the movies, especially the early sketches.

"These drawings to them are simple drawings, but to me it's a Picasso," she said.

Hunt said she'll continue working with Pixar as long as they'll have her coming back.

"When you're at Pixar, for me, I'm inspired, I'm included, I'm a collaborator, a student," she said. "It's what you dream show biz would be."


John Ratzenberger

An adventurer, John Ratzenberger is known for his role as Cliff Clavin on "Cheers" and as the host of "Made in America" which had Ratzenberger travel to factories in towns throughout the country.

During his adventures he's met quite a few characters.

"I know a guy who made a carburetor out of a soup can because he didn't have the money for the parts," he said.

That was just one character he met in his travels. And he met even more in Toad Suck, Ark., while on a motorcycle trip from New York to Las Vegas.

He was traveling along the road when he spotted the sign for the community.

"I've got to go explore who this is," Ratzenberger remembers thinking to himself as he pulled into town.

While there he stopped in an Italian restaurant, where his meal came as a bit of a surprise to Ratzenberger.

"It turned out be one of the best Italian meals I've ever eaten," he said.

Ratzenberger did have one wish about going to Toad Suck though:

"I would have loved to have been at the town meeting where they named the town."


Richard Petty

Richard Petty's role in NASCAR has made him known as The King by many race fans.

In "Cars," Petty plays the voice of the legendary car, The King.

"I don't know if it'll make you a stock car fan, but it might get your curiosity up," he said. "It's not a bad selling point for our deal, but I don't know if it's a big selling point. So much of the movie is not about the racing part of it."

Petty said the heart of the movie is about middle America life.

But for many at the speedway, the question was how has NASCAR gone from being a sport to being a major entertainment industry?

"It's gotten to be show biz now," Petty said. "You've got a new crowd people in the country looking for something different. I think I miss just the pure racing part of it. They want more entertainment out of races."

Petty talked about how racing has changed so much that drivers now go to classes to learn how to speak properly and sometimes they even get sent to anger management classes.

He said the "Cars" movie is a good metaphor for racing and one that drivers could pay attention to.

Especially when it comes to the character of Lightning McQueen, who is left in middle America and is trying to make it to the big race to compete for the Piston Cup.

"After being hung out there a while, he realizes there's more to the world then being a winner," Petty said. "You can be a winner without a checkered flag."


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