MPTF Foundation subs charity for goodies

Hollywood is famous for high-concept pitches, so here’s one: a party where guests get fewer goodies than in past years — but they feel good about it!

The seventh annual Night Before party, to be held Feb. 21 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, will once again raise coin for the Motion Picture & Television Fund. But this year, the goodie bags/gifts to the guests will be toned down.

According to MPTF Foundation chief exec Ken Scherer, the party’s sponsors said that, rather than give gifts to the 800 or so partygoers, they would prefer the money go directly to charity.

Given the global economy, it’s hoped that guests will get into the different tone — a “let’s all be sensitive together” mood and remember that this is fundamentally a charity event.

“This is a year of incredible change for everyone,” Scherer said, “and MPTF is grateful to our sponsors and to the entertainment community for supporting this event in a spirit befitting these times of change.

“This is a chance to celebrate while doing good, which is a winning combination.”

The freebies were always generous, but they were never the main draw. The first six Night Before events — which raised a combined $28 million for the fund — were characterized by the high energy of the guests, who could let their hair down because there were no members of the press (not even red-carpet coverage) and no cell-phone photos as they mingled with colleagues on the evening before the Oscarcast.

There are more than three dozen sponsors, and presenters include Hewlett-Packard, Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, L’Oreal and Target.

The heavyweight roster of hosts include Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Will Smith and Justin Timberlake.

This year’s event is also a reminder that the Motion Picture & Television Fund is still serving people. When the fund announced the closing of the long-term care facility, there were many protests by people who misunderstood and thought the entire facility was shutting down and/or evicting patients.

In fact, 75,000 industry workers are receiving health care at six health centers; 215 people live under fund auspices; nearly 20,000 industry vets were supported by MPTF social services last year; and the org provided more than $2 million in financial assistance to nearly 4,000 individuals during that same time.

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