The Motion Picture and Television Fund celebrated its 95 years under the stars Saturday with a little reception and a big concert at its Calabasas campus.
Host George Clooney joked that Kirk Douglas, one of the organization’s benefactors, “is not impressed so much, but to the rest of us 95 is a big deal.”
Indeed, Douglas crowed, “I am five years ahead of the sign,” pointing to the posters that marked the MPTF’s 95 years, after the band struck up “Happy Birthday” and he was presented with cupcakes to mark his upcoming centennial. He said he almost didn’t attend. “I don’t know who Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, or Kevin Hart are, so I’m glad I came here tonight.”
Over the years, Kirk and Anne Douglas have given more than $40 million to the MPTF, among other charitable donations, son Mike Douglas said, including to L.A. Unified School District and the Children’s Hospital.
Throughout the evening, there was plenty of singing and dancing interspersed with anecdotes of those who had received help from the fund whether in the form of palliative care, financial support, or shelter in their later years. These included everyone in the industry from producers and directors to composers, grips, and makeup artists.
Clooney said he wouldn’t be singing, but “when Jeffrey Katzenberg calls you, which he’s likely to do, take the call, you’ll be glad you did.”
One of the most moving moments was Jeremy Renner’s telling of actor Travis Davis (“Friday the 13th”), who developed stomach cancer and died in 2009 at age 40. The MPTF provided palliative care and support to him and his family. “Whatever the challenge, you don’t have to face it alone,” said widow Leryn Davis. You are in an industry that cares for its own in many wonderful ways.”
Another segment related how, long before the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, the spouse of a makeup artist, who was just referred to as Bob, received financial support for groceries and rent.
That was the message of the night in the midst of Hugh Jackman singing tunes from “Les Miserables,” Derek Hough (“Dancing With the Stars”) performing “Singin’ in the Rain,” and Norm Lewis, belting out “Music of the Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera.”
Sheryl Lee Ralph told the guests, “The real party is backstage. Hugh Jackman is walking testosterone. George Clooney, you did it for me then, you do it now.” She introduced Helen Reddy, “the original Broadway Dreamgirl.”
Other highlights included Kevin Spacey, Loretta Devine, and Johnny Mathis singing “Misty,” which was intro’ed by clips of Clint Eastwood in “Play Misty for Me,” and Jane Lynch, Kate Flannery, and Tim Davis.
Chris Pine and Bryan Cranston related how their relatives lived in the retirement home in their later years. Pine’s grandmother Anne Gwynne enjoyed the rose garden, he said. Cranston had the audience laughing as he related how his mother, Peggy Sell, lived in Harry’s Haven. Although she had Alzheimer’s he learned from a nurse that she had set up a relationship there. “I told the nurse my one concern was will she become pregnant,” he said. “We had a good laugh, but all joking aside I was glad she found companionship in her later years.”
Devine, Jim Gianopulos, and Yvette Nicole Brown got to the serious business of asking guests to contribute.
Brown, who got involved in Next Gen through Katzenberg, said “I give what I can now, knowing I may need it in the future.”