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What Do They Have In Common?

What do they have in common? Showbiz, that’s what. And I saw the showbiz community in action today in a visit to the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s Wasserman Campus in Calabasas. Of course, I’ve seen it many times over its history–but never before like this. My last visit was for the dedication of the Ray and Frank Stark Villas, one of which is Variety-sponsored. As I entered the Villas, I was greeted by new resident, Bob Banner. He said he loves living there. Outside the  beauty shop, I saw Ruth Koch, readying for her 89th birthday celebration this weekend with family, including son Hawk and daughter Melinda who winged out from NY.

The number one reason for my visit was to see the MPTV’s Channel 22 production studio headed by Jennifer Clymer with Marie Tang as editorial supervisor. The facility had been donated and created by Mel Shavelson. Joe Sutton hosts interviews with the residents, and the station has amassed over 100 biofilms, which can be viewed on the Channel 22 by all the residents on TV in their own quarters. The station starts b’casting at 6 ayem, continues through the day with varied programs, including series like, a favorite, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” “Sex and the City” is shown at 11:30 p.m. Sutton’s interviews with the residents with rich showbiz careers is, of course, a favorite. There’s also live entertainment available, like Saturday’s (Sept.27) “History of American Jazz” with Merrill Lish.

The menu for lunch in the dining room of the Ray and Fran Stark Villas was mouth-wateringly varied–from hot to cold dishes–soups to salads–specials every day and standards any day–all served by smiling waitresses. My visit was a special event for me as we were joined by my longtime Hollywood friends, now residents, Frank Liberman and Walter Seltzer. Liberman, one of the top publicists in the biz, represented Bob Hope for over a half century. And Walter, a top producer whose films starred Charlton Heston among many others. Seltzer has also been a hard-working board member of the MPRF for 30 years. We were joined by Ken Scherer, CEO of the MPTF Foundation. He has ably guided the Fund and the campus for 13 years. And he told of the concerns of the Fund for future generations of eligible residents and has associated with Microsoft on information. Recalling that Lew Wasserman and Jules Stein established the initial endowment to fund the campus, Scherer told how Wasserman enlisted Jeffrey Katzenberg to continue the tradition. “And this has become his passion,” Scherer praised Katzenberg. The next fundraising event for the MPTF will be “A Fine Romance” show, Nov.8 on the Sony lot with Jim Gianopulos again chairing and Larry Marks and Adam Shankman producing, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Hugh Jackman again head the cast and cohost. The show is always a sellout and sensaysh. Michael Douglas will again head a celeb golf match next year, his generation of Douglases continuing the involvement tradition.

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