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U kicks off buddy program at MPTF

Entertainment vets matched with Studio employees

Hundreds of Universal Studio execs on Friday kicked off a yearlong buddy program with residents of the Motion Picture Television Fund, home to aging and disabled entertainment professionals.

Started last year to celebrate the 85th birthday of former Universal topper Lew Wasserman, nearly 400 MPTF residents have been matched up with Universal employees. Studio participants will regularly visit and send cards to their “adoptees.”

“Everyone involved is truly sharing the commonality of being from the entertainment industry,” explained MPTF foundation chair Ken Scherer. “This makes ‘caring for our own’ (MPTFs’ slogan) very real.”

At the program opener Friday at the MPTF campus in Woodland Hills, residents watched the first installment of UCLA Film and Television archive project: “Amarcord: The Lew Wasserman Living History of Hollywood,” an ongoing compilation of interviews with MPTF residents.

“One of the residents (in the film) was a pioneer in 3D technology — he’s 93 years old — and nowhere is that recorded,” Scherer said.

Speaking from the event, “Psycho” thesp Janet Leigh told Daily Variety, “Some people from Universal were sitting with a man who had been in ‘Rebel Without a Cause,’ just listening to him go on, and you could tell they were learning the history of this business.”

The adoption project has left Leigh felling rather jolly. “After today, I can now say … yes, it’s Christmas.” She hopes the program “will serve as inspiration for other studios to get involved.”

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