Breakfast with George Clooney

February 28, 2012
MPTF CEO Bob Beitcher, MPTF Board Member George Clooney, Chairman of the MPTF Foundation Committee Jeffrey Katzenberg, and CEO of the MPTF Foundation Ken Scherer.

MPTF CEO Bob Beitcher, MPTF Board Member George Clooney, Chairman of the MPTF Foundation Committee Jeffrey Katzenberg, and CEO of the MPTF Foundation Ken Scherer.

Did I mention that I had breakfast with George Clooney last Thursday at the Beverly Hills Hotel?  No?  Yeah, me and about 20 media people from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the LA Times and other outlets, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Bob Pisano, and the rest of our Board of Directors, many staff members, and some special invited guests.  George is an MPTF board member (since October 2010) and has been working with us behind the scenes on strategy and the various initiatives we’ve been implementing in the past few months.  He joined us on Thursday to announce the launch of our MPTF Campaign, an ambitious attempt to raise $350 million to (in Jeffrey Katzenberg’s words) “keep MPTF going forever.”

And what a breakfast it was!  Jeffrey was eloquent in making clear that his personal objective was to ensure that his generation stepped up and did their part to lay a strong foundation for the continuity of MPTF for the next generations.  Just as Jeffrey took over the leadership of MPTF from Lew Wasserman 20 years go, he made the case that his generation of industry leaders needed to do the same and demonstrate their belief in MPTF by contributing to its future.  In introducing George, who is well known to all of us not only as an extraordinary actor, director and writer, but also as a skilled fundraiser and philanthropist in his own right, Jeffrey said “the more complicated things became for MPTF, the more interested in us George became.”

Board member Clooney was charming and genuine and spoke about how his own appreciation of MPTF has been developed by seeing what MPTF has done for “family” members on the set and hearing about its good works the same way.  It was great to have George there for us (so obvious!) but especially heartwarming to see him embrace MPTF resident Anne Faulkner who acted with George early in his career on Roseanne.  He saw her from across the room as he entered, walked right up to her for a strong hug, and insisted on sitting next to her at breakfast to “catch up.”  (Anne calls him Booker, his character name on the show.)  This is what George is all about – loyalty, sincerity, commitment to the industry – and it shone on through on Thursday morning.

By the way, at an earlier breakfast that morning (hey, it’s Hollywood, we have several breakfasts every day!), George confirmed with Jeffrey, Ken Scherer, and me, that he is prepared to work with other industry members of his generation to raise the funds required to put MPTF on secure footing for the future and enable us to carry out our mission of providing a guardrail between our members and whatever issues might confront them.

George announced the campaign –$350 million over 3 years – as well as the current total, pledges of $238 million!  The donors represent a who’s who of industry leaders (click here for a full list) and, as George noted, Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg were the first to step up.

My own remarks focused on the deep and uncertain needs MPTF will have in the future as we begin to provide care for the estimated 75,000-100,000 industry members and their families – our baby boomer population – who will retire from the industry over the next 20 years.  I said:  “thanks to this campaign, we can be confident of one thing:  the MPTF safety net will be there for them.”

In future blogs, I’m going to spend some time talking about the specific charitable needs for the funds we’re raising, but the areas include: support for all of the residents on campus (independent living, assisted living, dementia care, long-term care), aid for the various community- and home-based services we’re providing, capital for the remodeling of the campus, and replenishing the MPTF reserves that have been severely depleted over the past few years.

I called this campaign ambitious in the beginning of this blog and indeed it is.  But we can do it!  As George Clooney expressed when he unveiled the symbol of the campaign – a vintage coin box inscribed on each side with our old name MPRF (Motion Picture Relief Fund) and our new name MPTF – this is about EVERYONE in the industry pitching in to make certain that we’ve done our share, we’ve given back, to steward MPTF for the next generation.

Thanks for breakfast, George!

About Bob Beitcher

Bob Beitcher is the President and CEO of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. He has been a senior executive in the entertainment industry for 30 years, having held leadership roles at Jim Henson Productions, Paramount Pictures, Panavision and MacAndrews & Forbes Media Group. Bob has been an MPTF board member since 2007. He became interim CEO in 2010 and was named permanent CEO in 2011.

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3 Responses to Breakfast with George Clooney

  1. Sharon D. Chase on March 1, 2012 at 7:44 am

    As a past volunteer at the MPTH I am delighted to learn of this turn in events…Needless to say I was heartbroken when they moved patients out of their safe and comfortable enviroment..I alway thought
    there was enough money in the background to save the home  and the patients..
    The only reason I am not a volunteer any longer is because we moved to the desert.
    Thank you all for taking care of “Our Own” as the logan goes.
    Sharon D. Chase
    [email protected]

  2. Joe Kelly on March 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    The BEST coverage anywhere in the USA…………….Joe Kelly

  3. Barbara Bass on March 22, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I couldn’t be happier about the progress made with MPTF.  We were all so disappointed to hear that the hospital would be shut down and am reassured that the future of many of our seniors will be well cared for.
    The care I personally have gotten at the facility have been outstanding.  However, the facility is sooo dated, drab, and unpleasant.  Would it be possible to replace some of the carpeting, do more painting and just update everything???
    Barbara Bass

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