Polished 'Speech' gets it right

LUCKY DAY: Firth chats with Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation of America, in London.
LUCKY DAY: Firth chats with Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation of America, in London. (London Media)
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Two celeb-centric stories on our radar this weekend:

1 After seeing "The King's Speech," the Golden Globe-nominated drama that starsColin Firth as George VI, who overcomes a terrible stutter, we couldn't help but wonder: How many of the therapeutic techniques depicted in the film are legitimate? According to Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation of America, which has an office here in Washington, several are still used for people with halting speech.

Fraser points to the accuracy of some specific lip-loosening methods adopted by the king's unconventional therapist, Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush), including the practice of "bouncing on a word," or repeating it until the speaker gets unstuck, and recording a person's voice so he can hear how it sounds. Less common? Encouraging tongue trippers to spew profanities during their sessions, as Firth does to great comedic effect in the movie.

Fraser - whose father, businessman and philanthropist Malcolm Fraser, founded the Stuttering Foundation in 1947 - got to praise Firth's performance in person. Last week, she attended a London charity screening of "The King's Speech," hosted by the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children. Because the benefit was held on the same night that widespread riots broke out in the British capital, Palin (yes, the guy from the "Monty Python" movies) got stuck in traffic and the event's start time was delayed.

"Guess who was in the VIP room with Colin all that time?" Fraser laughs. But even precious face time with Firth isn't her greatest "King's Speech" joy.

"The thrill for all of us that work with stuttering is that it's portrayed so marvelously," she says.

2What'sAlison Sweeney's biggest piece of advice for new moms trying to drop post-pregnancy pounds? "Commit to it," said the "Biggest Loser" host and "Days of Our Lives" mainstay in an interview earlier this week. " I talk about just going to take a shower, putting some makeup on - your baby will survive and you'll feel better about yourself." Sweeney shares more tips for new moms in her upcoming book, "The Mommy Diet." (Hitting store shelves Dec. 28, just in time for New Year's resolutions.) Visit the blog for more with Sweeney, including how Sweeney coaxed her tubby dog back to fitness.


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