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Saturday, May 12, 2001

who wants to be a politician?

WASHINGTON (Variety) - Marketing hoopla over Disney's upcoming wartime drama ``Pearl Harbor'' has reached all the way to the U.S. Senate, where an ethics committee has dive-bombed a studio plan to put several war veteran politicians on ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.''

Stars from the film, including Ben Affleck, were also in talks to appear as contestants on the hit game show, which airs on Disney-owned ABC. Proceeds from the ``Millionaire'' guest spots would have gone to the World War II Memorial fund.

The show would have taped over the weekend and aired the final weekend of May sweeps. Instead, ``Millionaire's'' producers were forced to sink the special edition.

Unfortunately for the would-be congressional contestants, the ethics panel said late last week that Senate rules prohibit members from receiving honoraria exceeding $2,000, even if the money is going to a charitable cause.

Disney is paying Washington great deference in the days leading up to the picture's May 25 release. The day before, the company will throw a special screening for politicians who served in the U.S. military.

The ``Millionaire'' idea is said to have been hatched by Walt Disney Co. chairman Michael Eisner and former Republican Sen. Bob Dole, who is moonlighting these days as a consultant/lobbyist for various Hollywood interests.

Lawmakers tentatively slated to appear on the show included Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.). Dole also was on the list.

``As part of our due diligence, we took the idea to the Senate ethics committee,'' a Disney spokesman said. ``We thought this would be both a fun show as well as raising money for a worthy cause.''