October 7, 2010
The Motion Picture & Television Fund Needs To Remember Charlie Chaplin
I went to an event this week that was raising awareness for the plight of the residents of the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s long-term care facility. It was put on by an organization called Saving the Lives of Our Own and was held at The Renberg Theater in Hollywood.
It was a really lovely evening and I was touched by many of the performances. There were a lot of veteran actors and entertainers participating. I met Shirley Jones and once I got over the instant desire to tell her that I thought I loved her, we chatted about the cause.
Ms. Jones said she did not understand how a community that had so much wealth, was willing to turn their backs on people who needed their help. It’s a long and detailed story, which you can read about in an article written by Danielle Berrin here at the Jewish Journal.
When I came home I spoke to my son about the event. He did not know a lot of the artists that performed, but he was interested in what was happening with the residents of the MPTF facility. I shared my limited knowledge of the situation and my 14 year old managed to solve the problem in 5 minutes.
The MPTF says the long-term care facility is losing money. Saving the Lives of Our Own does not want this organization, that has so much money, to throw out people who have been there for years, were dedicated to the entertainment industry, and planned to live out their days there.
Without getting into the politics of he said, she said, the bottom line is that this organization was founded to help the people who created “Hollywood”. I believe Charlie Chaplin, and the others who created the MPTF would be heartbroken that these people will be displaced.
I have loved Charlie Chaplin since I was a little girl. He was funny and handsome and has brought me joy through difficult moments in my life. I refuse to believe he would not be outraged by what is happening. He would have been at the event this week, asking people to help.
If the main reason the Board of Directors wants to close the facility is because it is losing money, I get it. Rather than panic however, make a plan. It’s not really about money as they have a lot of it, it’s about not wanting to be bothered with this particular service any longer.
That said, let’s make it about money. My son proposes the following plan: Have each major television network, along with the top 5 movie studios, each donate $10 million dollars to the MPTF, restricting their donation to the long-term care facility.
Then, have every actor and crewmember, on every television show and movie set, donate one day’s salary to the fund, again earmarking it to long-term care. That should be more than enough money to salve all the problems and allow these people to maintain not only their home, but also their dignity.
I’m not kidding. This is not meant to belittle the situation. I understand that it’s complicated and about more than money. At the end of the day however, it does not need to be a fight because it’s a battle and no one will win. Time to check egos and think about those residents.
One of the performers at the event was actor Bill Smitrovich. He read a letter from a resident called “Ed”. Ed worked as a make up artist during the golden age of Hollywood. Everyone who wants to close that facility should go have a cup of coffee with Ed and I imagine they will change their mind.
Ed wrote of his love for his work and how much he enjoyed making everyone look good. This is a man who worked in the picture business for longer than I have been alive. He dedicated his life to an art form we all love, yet now that he is old, his contributions are being forgotten.
I am a fan of the entertainment industry. I love actors and performers. I escape the real world by enjoying television and movies. I love Charlie Chaplin and everyone who works in this industry should be helping these people out, as they are the reason you all have a thriving industry now.
In a country that is at war, struggling to regain control of it’s budget and government, it seems to me that allowing a few people who have paid their dues, live out their days in peace and happiness, having given us so much happiness themselves, should not be a big deal.
My son is available to mediate any meetings and explain his financial recovery plan. He will also donate his consulting fee to the long-term care facility. We will need to meet around his school schedule, but we can make it work. To Ed, I have a little crush on you. Be strong, be well, and keep the faith.