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Michael J. Fox sits fireside in a private room upstairs at Ralph Lauren men’s store on 72nd Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan. As well-wishers swill cocktails a floor below at a private shopping event to benefit The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the actor takes some time to consider a few of his classic roles currently being reworked for younger audiences.
“They’re making a new ‘Teen Wolf,’ I know…” he says with an apathetic smile. “But it’s sort of ‘Twilight’-y and violent…I’m under the impression it makes ours look like ‘Flubber.’”
And what about the “Bright Lights, Big City” remake, championed by “Gossip Girl” writer and producer Josh Schwartz?
“I heard that they were doing it, the remake, and I said, you know, good luck. I hope you do well, and my daughters watch “Gossip Girl,’” Fox laughs. “And then they sent us all this ‘Gossip Girl’ stuff, so now I really hope they do well.”
Fox’s wife of over 20 years, Tracy Pollan, giggles her assent, “Yeah, that was a big plus with the girls.”
But the film industry is not exactly Fox’s raison d’être anymore, which is why he was at the store last Thursday evening. These days most of his work goes towards the foundation. In honor of Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April, Ralph Lauren partnered with the charity on a collection of limited edition dog tags emblazoned with inspirational phrases like “Be Bold” and “Be Inspired,” which are available for purchase at the brand’s stores in New York, Greenwich, Dallas, Beverly Hills and Chicago, as well as online.
The idea for the collaboration was serendipitous. Pollan had been strolling through East Hampton with her son and stopped into the Ralph Lauren store to admire its collection of original World War I and World War II dog tags.
“I had wanted to design a dog tag like those, and use the proceeds to benefit the foundation for a long time,” Pollan explains. “I just thought it was a really beautiful idea, a way for someone to honor someone in their life who was sick with Parkinson’s or something else, and have that person close to your heart.”
While perusing the tags, Pollan was interrupted by a man who introduced himself as Jerry Lauren, Ralph’s brother. Pollan laughs, “And I explained how funny it was, because I was just showing my son the dog tags and this was why and told him my whole idea, and he said, ‘Well, why don’t we do that together? Why don’t you do that with Ralph Lauren? It would be the perfect match.’ And it all just blossomed from there.”
“We’ve had tremendous support,” Fox says of the charity, which in the past decade has raised over $230 million. “The foundation, because we’re solely research oriented, we’ve given people a focused way to direct their money towards research, to know that we’re every day getting up and scouring the world for the people doing the most compelling research.”
With that, Fox and Pollan are off to greet the crowd in the well-appointed drawing room, which by then includes an exceptionally dapper Tom Selleck (and his moustache) on hand to express his support.