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Stars to read Declaration

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PHILADELPHIA — Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey are among the stars scheduled to read the Declaration of Independence at a Fourth of July gala that Norman Lear will produce for television.

The dramatic reading, which will be broadcast live on ABC (8 p.m. MDT), is the highlight of Philadelphia's annual Independence Day celebration. The gala in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art also will include a Garth Brooks concert, a military band choir and fireworks.

Lear, the producer of "All in the Family," and a partner paid a record $8.14 million last summer for a 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence. It's one of 25 that survive from the hundreds that were printed and sent to the 13 colonies proclaiming their independence from Great Britain.

Lear plans to make the Declaration the centerpiece of a youth-oriented patriotic road show. He said Tuesday the goal "will be to try to help young people understand that if they believe they matter, they will."

Although he's long been associated with liberal causes, the 78-year-old Lear said he won't use the Declaration to advance the political agenda of his advocacy group, People for the American Way.

"This is not going to be successful unless it's utterly nonpartisan. This has got to appeal to every Democrat and every Republican. Both sides of the aisle are talking about uniting, and this is the opportunity," he said.