Fawcett's Friends Gather as Farrah Fights for Life

Ryan O'Neal and others watch Farrah Fawcett's video diary about cancer battle.

May 14, 2009 — -- As Farrah Fawcett clings to life, her longtime companion, Ryan O'Neal, and close friend Alana Stewart hosted an intimate screening of "Farrah's Story," an unflinching look at her struggle to overcome cancer, Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

"This is truly Farrah's evening. She wasn't up to making it, but she's here in spirit," Stewart, a producer on the project, told the audience while introducing the video diary, which will air nationwide on NBC Friday.

Hollywood friends Jacqueline Bisset, Melanie Griffith and Paul Le Mat, who starred with Fawcett in the 1984 TV movie "The Burning Bed," attended the screening, which, according to The Associated Press, drew applause and tears.

In an unusual twist, Craig Nevius, one of the documentary's producers is suing Stewart, O'Neal and O'Neal's business manager, over creative control of tomorrow's special. In his suit filed Wednesday, he claims that the trio interfered with his right to produce the documentary and that O'Neal threatened him.

Fawcett, 62, was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006 that has since spread to her liver. Today, the former pinup girl and "Charlie's Angels" star, known for her golden tresses, has lost that once-defining trait.

In the film, O'Neal revealed that during the first rounds of treatment, they did all they could to preserve her iconic blond locks. But in February, when Fawcett began chemotherapy and her hair began to fall out, she finally cut it all off.

Last week, O'Neal told People magazine that Fawcett's condition has deteriorated.

"She's in bed with an IV. They're not trying any great measures to save her," O'Neal said.

Reports surfaced that the always slender Fawcett had shrunk to 84 pounds. It's a claim her doctor refuted on ABC's "Good Morning America" in April.

"She is 101 pounds. She has challenges every day with the fight with cancer. As long as she is able to fight, she will keep fighting," said Dr. Lawrence Piro. Piro said Fawcett had a "reasonable weight" under the circumstances.

On Wednesday at the screening, O'Neal told the AP that Fawcett planned to watch Friday's broadcast of her story from her Los Angeles home.

"She's heavily medicated," O'Neal, 68, said. "We're going to take some of these medications down so she's lucid and sharp to watch herself. I think she'll take great pride in this."

Fawcett is in a "very rocky place," O'Neal said. "We put on a brave front, always, when we're with her. She doesn't know how scared we are."

That includes Fawcett and O'Neal's son Redmond O'Neal, 24, who has just been admitted into a court-ordered drug program.

Recently, Redmond, who has struggled with drug-related legal charges, was allowed to leave jail, where he was being held on a probation violation, to visit his mother.

"He crawled into bed with her in his jail jumpsuit and his shackles on, and he cuddled with his mother and cried," Ryan O'Neal told People magazine. O'Neal told Redmond not to rattle his shackles and to hide them from his mother.

In the film, O'Neal expresses his concern for how Redmond will be affected by his mother's death.

Farrah's Other Fight

Viewers watching the film will be inspired by Fawcett's fight against cancer, according to O'Neal and Stewart.

"If you liked her, you're gonna love her" after seeing the film, O'Neal told the AP. "Farrah's Story" will show her "incredible strength," Stewart said. "Her big message to people is don't give up. No matter what they say to you, keep fighting."

Besides fighting cancer, Fawcett has also had to fight for her rights to keep her medical records private.

In a move reminiscent of her famed show "Charlie's Angels," the '70s cover girl carried out her own sting operation to stop leaks about her condition.

And she gave the details of her sleuth skills to the Los Angeles Times in an exclusive interview that took place in August 2008 but wasn't published until Monday.

Getting to the Truth

Fawcett said she had long suspected tabloids were getting a constant flow of information on her condition from inside the UCLA Medical Center, the hospital where she was being treated.

"When she would see an eye doctor, there would be a tabloid report she was going blind; when she got a pap smear, they'd say she was having a hysterectomy," said Los Angeles Times reporter Charles Ornstein, who spoke exclusively to Fawcett in August about her condition.

So when Fawcett's doctor told her that her cancer had returned in 2007, she deliberately withheld the news from her friends and family in order to prove that someone from the hospital was leaking information.

"I set it up with the doctor. I said, 'OK, you know and I know.' And I knew that if it came out, it was coming from UCLA," Fawcett said. "I couldn't believe how fast it came out — maybe four days.

The hospital found that an employee had tapped into Fawcett's information more often that her own doctors had. Fawcett asked the hospital for the employee's name, but it refused to give it to her.

"They said, 'We have a responsibility to protect our employees,'" Fawcett said.

"And I said, 'More than your patients?'" Fawcett recalled asking.

Eventually, after months of requests, UCLA gave Fawcett's lawyers the name of the administrative specialist who had gone through her records, the Los Angeles Times reported. Just as the hospital moved to fire Lawanda Jackson in July 2007, she quit, the paper said.

Prosecutors learned that the National Enquirer had paid the employee more than $4,600 for the actress's medical information, beginning in 2006. The checks were made out to Jackson's husband.

Jackson pleaded guilty in December to a felony charge of violating federal medical privacy laws for commercial purposes, but she died in March of cancer before she could be sentenced.

A spokesman for the UCLA Medical Center said they were "disturbed" by the release of Fawcett's private medical information and have "worked diligently" in the past year to ensure patient privacy.

Sharyn Alfonsi, Anna Wild, Kelly Hagan and Imaeyen Ibanga from ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.