The Motion Picture and Television Fund has launched a Hollywood fundraising campaign to generate $350 million in support for the charity and its nursing home that was once slated to close.
On Thursday, the fund announced that DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg had already helped secure more than $200 million in pledges and donations that include his own contribution and those from Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, Steve Bing, Casey Wasserman and George Clooney.
Katzenberg and Clooney are spearheading the campaign efforts. "I am proud to be part of the MPTF legacy of taking care of our own,'' said Katzenberg at a media breakfast held at the Beverly Hills Hotel. "This campaign is the way my generation can ensure that the MPTF will be there to serve future generations forever."
Clooney said he had been a strong supporter of the fund's work. "I was raised to believe that as a community we should be judged by how we take care of people who can't take care of themselves."
The Oscar-nominated star of best picture contender "The Descendants" added: "This is our community. This is our commitment; to make sure that the MPTF is still standing strong for generations to come."
The fundraising announcement follows a recent decision by the fund's board to re-admit patients to the nursing home. The fund's board triggered an uproar in Hollywood when it announced plans in January 2009 to shut down the nursing home -- which was established to care for retiring actors and other performers, citing heavy financial losses.
MPTF Chairman Bob Beitcher said cost-cutting and fundraising efforts made it possible for the charity to operate a smaller nursing home, with about 40 residents, instead of the more than 130 it had in 2009. The fund recently partnered with UCLA Health System to operate a geriatric psychiatric unit at the skilled nursing home.
Fund officials also have spent months negotiating with Kindred Healthcare Inc. of Louisville, Ky. Under a proposed deal, Kindred would invest $10 million to remodel an existing hospital building and would lease hospital and rehabilitation beds from the fund.
Beitcher said the $350 million would provide a much-needed infusion to help finance improvements to the nursing home as well as other social and healthcare services provided by the charity.
"Over the next 20 years, approximately 100,000 industry members and their families, our very own baby boomers, will be retiring,'' Beitcher said. "And the fact is that today we can't anticipate what kind of help and support they'll need from the MPTF. But we can be certain that there will continue to be needs that otherwise won't be filled without the support of the charity."
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: Bob Beitcher, George Clooney and Jeffrey Katzenberg gather as the Motion Picture Television Fund launches a $350-million fundraising campaign with support from Hollywood luminaries at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Credit: Motion Picture Television Fund.