As the Motion Picture Television Fund approaches its 100th birthday, it is tapping Hollywood heavyweights like J.J. Abrams, Christopher Nolan, Bonnie Hammer, Peter Rice, and Kevin
Tsujihara to help dispel misperceptions about the organization and promote its diverse services to a new generation of industry newcomers.
The task force, headed by John Wells, will make an aggressive push to remind young people that the fund, which supports members of the California entertainment community, is much more than the Woodland Hills Country House & Hospital for retired and ailing industry vets.
“People often associate the fund with end-of-career or retirement concerns, but it’s much more,” Wells says.
The task force — which also includes Emma Thomas, Sue Kroll, Dee Dee Myers, and Tony Goldwyn — is planning events and workplace reminders to support the fund.
Another new group, NextGen — which includes reps from Funny or Die, Netflix, Marvel, and the established studios, networks, and agencies — has the immediate goals of welcoming newcomers to the industry, providing them with orientation and networking as they start their careers, and eventually creating a generation of industry workers who make the MPTF a part of their life.
A new umbrella program, tentatively titled All In, aims to drive home the point that MPTF work — which includes outpatient clinics, assistance to military veterans, financial aid, and child care — is not just about health but about quality of life. As MPTF president/CEO Bob Beitcher says, “It’s a culture of caring.”
Last year, the fund handled 60,000 cases. As awareness spreads, so will the demands. In 2012, the MPTF announced a target goal of $350 million in fundraising; it has since increased that goal to $500 million by 2021, the fund’s 100th anniversary.
MPTF Foundation board chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg tells Variety, “We’ve almost met our original target — we’re on the five-yard line, but now we’ve moved the goal post.”
There’s a greater need for assistance from the fund due to rising medical costs and unemployment because of increased filming outside of Southern California.
In recent years, the MPTF has faced severe financial hardship, management upheaval, and public outcry, hitting a low point in 2009-10. “No question, we were in a crisis mode,” Katzenberg acknowledges. “We were challenged, underfunded, and had issues with the leadership team.”
The fund faced a PR nightmare when families protested its decision to close its long-term care facility and move patients to another site in a plan that was more cost-efficient.
“We had dark days, but we found the right leadership and restructured,” says Katzenberg. “Six years later, we have an outstanding president/CEO in Bob Beitcher, an active and engaged board,