Sabans pledge $100 million

Donation gives MPTF big lift

Cheryl and Haim Saban have announced $100 million worth of contributions and pledges made by their Saban Family Foundation including a $10 million pledge to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

Cheryl Saban said their charitable giving reflects her and her husband’s interest in health care, particularly for the elderly and children.

“The entertainment industry has been very good to us,” Haim Saban said of his gift to the MPTF. “It is only right we give back to the community that gave us so much.”

The $10 million pledge will go toward the construction of a new Therapy and Wellness Center at the MPTF’s Country House & Hospital.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the MPTF foundation board of directors, hailed the gift. “With this extraordinary gift, Cheryl and Haim Saban will improve the quality of life for thousands of industry members and their families,” he said. “Their generosity will make it possible for the Motion Picture & Television Fund — our industry’s own charity — to provide state-of-the-art physical, occupational and aquatic therapies for seniors living at MPTF’s renowned retirement community.”

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Saban admitted that he was not familiar with the MPTF until he was introduced to the foundation by Edie Wasserman and Katzenberg. “They got us excited,” he said.

Inspiring other donors

Saban said Katzenberg and Wasserman also encouraged him to publicly announce his and his wife’s contributions. “If you say you gave $10 million,” Mr. Saban recalled Katzenberg telling him, “I can go to these other big machers and ask them to give.”

He added, “Our big hope is that our contributions will inspire the likes of Sumner Redstone and Rupert Murdoch to contribute in proportion to their wealth.”

Other donations by the Sabans include a $40 million pledge to the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, $5 million in matching funds to the Children’s Hospital at Soroka University Medical Center in Israel, $5.2 million in matching funds to Friends of Israel Disabled Veterans, and $13 million to establish the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Sabans’ generosity comes at a time when a slump in the stock market has slowed big-ticket philanthropy.

Ted Turner’s foundation, for example, recently announced that it would not accept any new grant applications for the next year due to the nosedive of AOL Time Warner stock, which makes up the bulk of Turner’s wealth.

At the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, the Sabans’ gift will support research in pediatric medicine and will fund construction of a new 88,500-square foot research laboratory. In honor of the gift, the Childrens Hospital Research Institute will be renamed The Saban Research Institute of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

At the Brookings Institution, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy will sponsor research and analysis of U.S. policy in the Middle East, as well as a wide range of forums, conferences and press briefings by a staff of experts.

The $5 million pledge to the Soroka Medical Center will help construct a dedicated children’s hospital in Be’er Sheva, Israel.

A $5.2 million pledge to the Friends of Israeli Disabled Veterans will be used to construct a care center for disabled veterans and victims of terror in Be’er Sheva.

The gift was made after Cheryl Saban traveled to Israel and discovered that there was no such facility in southern Israel. “If there is a disabled veteran who lives in the South, he has to travel for hours to Tel Aviv for rehabilitation,” she said.

“Israel is close to our heart,” said Saban, who says he and his wife hoped to improve people’s lives. “We’re not in the museum business like our friend Eli Broad. It’s more important to us to deal with people’s health and their hunger than museums.”

Of their philanthropic work, Cheryl Saban said, “It gives us naches to help.”