Many in Hollywood value golden statues, but some put more value into the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated. The folks who run the Motion Picture Television Fund take the notion of caring for their colleagues to heart, lending a helping hand to industry members who need extra assistance during difficult times. The charity, founded in 1921 by Mary Pickford, is memorializing its 100th anniversary at its 100 Years of Hollywood: A Celebration of Service gala on June 18.
Though technically in its 101st year of existence, the nonprofit was unable to revel in the monumental milestone in-person in 2021 due to lingering COVID.
MPTF president and CEO Bob Beitcher says, “We were going to do it last year, but it didn’t seem like it was the right time.”
They do, however, have a positive outlook on the postponement. “People don’t celebrate their 100th birthday twice, but we are. That’s the privilege of being 100. You can make your own rules.”
The fundraiser will be held on a soundstage at the Lot at Formosa, a serendipitous site. The venue’s storied heritage ties directly to the MPTF: It’s not only on the exact real estate that the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio stood but also later served as home to the Samuel Goldwyn Studios (a benefactor whose third- and fourth-generation offspring are still active in fundraising), but it’s also on a plot formerly owned by the organization.
“We dug into the history and sure enough there was some magnetic attraction to holding it there,” Beitcher says.
The evening’s festivities will highlight the MPTF’s legacy and those who’ve gone above and beyond in their support and dedication.
Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg will be given the organization’s honorary service award, the Silver Medallion.
“They have been incredible financial supporters, but more importantly, Jeffrey has been the fundraising engine for the last 30 years and helped us get the Night Before and Evening Before events off the ground,” says Beitcher. “Without his support, we couldn’t have done it. He’s been a really instrumental part of our history.”
For a niche nonprofit that covers people in a single workforce, the MPTF has endured for over a century and that’s worth celebrating, according to Beitcher.
“Not many can say that. It’s not like we’re the American Red Cross, or March of Dimes, that appeals to everyone. It’s an organization that’s unique in the sense that this industry has a safety net and it’s an industry that takes care of its own in pretty wonderful, sometimes miraculous ways.”
While folks can give by advocating or volunteering, philanthropy remains equally important.
“Many of our workforce live paycheck to paycheck, and they need some help paying the rent, or electric bill, or a caregiver for a family member and we’re there to do that for them.”
He continues, “It’s a gala, but it’s also a fundraiser for support for the future because we can only sustain with the help of our industry. The theme of the evening will be ‘We Take Care of Our Own,’ and that’s what will be reinforced throughout the night.”
Although they’re on a serious mission to raise awareness during the event, Beitcher assures that it’ll put the “fun” in the word fundraiser.
“I don’t want to scare people into thinking that they’re going to come and hear a one-hour lecture,” he says. “It will be done in an entertaining, punchy and fun way.”
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