Community was a major theme at the fifth annual Reel Stories, Real Lives event held at Milk Studios Hollywood on Thursday, benefiting the Motion Picture & Television Fund.
Michael Douglas, a longtime champion of the charitable organization, was honored for his generous support of the Fund over the past five decades.
“What my Dad’s generation did for Hollywood by building upon the MPTF’s legacy is unparalleled,” Douglas said. “Today, the thriving 95 year old Fund, four years younger than my Dad, is like no other.”
The ceremony, hosted by Adam Scott, highlighted the impact that the Fund has had on the lives it has touched through a collection of real-life stories penned by screenwriters like Drew Pearce (“Iron Man 3”) and Michele and Kieran Mulroney (“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”), and read by stars including Danny De Vito, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Established almost a century ago by such Hollywood icons as Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith, the MPTF offers health and human services to those in the motion picture and television community, including those with limited or no resources.
Described by Douglas as “the safety net that will catch any of us if we happen to fall,” the Fund provides senior care, residential living and well-being programs to over 150,000 members and their families.
“No other industry takes care of its own the way the entertainment business does,” Douglas said, echoing the Fund’s mission statement.
Though he acknowledge the changes in the industry have presented challenges to the MPTF in recent years, Douglas was emboldened by the personal narratives performed throughout the evening. “Being here tonight, and listening to these incredible stories, reminds me of what hasn’t changed,” Douglas said. “The through line of this industry is the MPTF, a place where we come together in the spirit of community and giving back to those in need.”
Other celebrity readers who participated throughout the evening included Idina Menzel, Dennis Haysbert and Matt Bomer (“American Horror Story: Hotel”).
The stories that were performed included moving tales of physical, emotional and financial hardship that was alleviated by the Fund’s caring volunteers and social workers. Many of the people mentioned in the stories were present in the audience, and were warmly introduced by the stars who told their tales.
Bomer, who narrated a powerful first-person account of a man who turned to the MPTF for help following the death of his film industry husband, was deeply moved by the story he read.
“It’s incredible that the Fund’s been looking after people in our industry for almost a hundred years,” Bomer said. “The entertainment business is often perceived as cynical, so to have a charity like this, where they’re helping so many people who really need it, people who’ve given their lives and dedicated their careers to this industry, I think it’s a hugely important cause that I hope to do more with in the future.”
The evening ended on a poignant note, with Douglas recounting the death of his mother, actress Diana Douglas, in 2015. “Toward the end of her illness, in an attempt to relieve her discomfort, we moved her to the MPTF campus, and I can attest to the love and support which she received there,” Douglas said, his voice choked with emotion. “I deeply appreciate their efforts, and was not at all surprised when I got a call last week from social services just asking how I was doing.”