Murdoch hopes gift will spark others to do the same

News Corp. has made a $20 million gift to the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s campaign goal of $350 million in one of the largest recent donations to the fund.

The announcement was made Tuesday, six weeks after Barry Diller and his family made a $30 million gift to the campaign. News Corp. topper Rupert Murdoch said in a statement that he hoped the donation will spark others to do the same.

“The MPTF is vital to the long-term health of the entertainment industry and provides crucial support to many valued members of the creative community,” Murdoch said.  “I’m so pleased we can play a role in its ongoing success and hope that this commitment will spur others within the entertainment community to get involved and join this important mission.”

Campaign chair Jeffrey Katzenberg noted that Murdoch has a long history of supporting the fund prior to making the $20 million gift.

“Rupert Murdoch has been a major donor to MPTF for nearly 20 years,” Katzenberg said. “He was one of the first people I approached when I became involved as chairman of the MPTF Foundation in 1991. He said yes then and has never stopped, and now this incredible commitment from News Corp. is the ultimate expression of generosity.”

Michael Douglas, a longtime supporter of the fund and an MPTF Foundation committee member, also took part in Tuesday’s announcement.

Katzenberg and George Clooney unveiled the $350 million campaign in February in order to raise funds to support the charitable programs and health and social services as well as child care and retirement care services to entertainment biz members.

Clooney noted last month that with more than 75,000 industry members likely retiring over the next 10 years, the campaign will help insure that the MPTF will remain a vital part of the safety net of care at a time when state and federal programs are coming under stress.

Besides Clooney, Diller and Katzenberg, other donors to the campaign unveiled in February have included Steve Bing, Tom Cruise, Fox Entertainment Group, David Geffen, Michael Lewis, Jerrold Perenchio, Todd Phillips, Joe Roth, Patrick Soon-Shiong, Steven Spielberg, Thomas Tull, Casey Wasserman and John and Marilyn Wells.

The MPTF has been rebuilding since its January 2009 announcement that rising costs amid the recession would force it to shutter its long-term care unit, which had 136 patients at the time, as well as its acute-care hospital.

The MPTF faced a barrage of criticism over the past three years over that decision, with some questioning the fund’s commitment to its stated goal of “taking care of our own.”

However, earlier this year, the MPTF disclosed it would begin admitting new patients for the first time in three years, going from 29 patients to as many as 40. It also announced earlier this year that it was launching a geriatric psychiatric unit on its Woodland Hills campus in partnership with UCLA Health System and its Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital.

MPTF execs have emphasized that the fund will continue to operate its independent and assisted-care facilities in Woodland Hills and half a dozen health centers in the Los Angeles area, along with modernizing the Woodland Hills campus and expanding its medical and social services for biz retirees.

MPTF prexy-CEO Bob Beitcher said Tuesday of the $20 million gift: “Everyone knows the unpredictable nature of working in the entertainment industry and the needs that can arise as a result. MPTF is only able to continue to provide a safety net because of generous donations, and the gift from News Corp. is extraordinary and will surely impact thousands of lives for years to come.”

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