×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

MPTF Launches New Grassroots Fundraising Campaign: ‘We’re All in This Together,’ Says George Clooney

Can $5 truly make a difference? The answer is a resounding yes, according to the Motion Picture Television Fund, which is kicking off a grassroots fundraising campaign titled “We All Play Our Part” — urging everyone in the industry to contribute a small weekly amount from their paychecks to fund the charity’s efforts.

To help kickstart the program, Paramount Studios held a series of events on its lot last week, capped with a screening of George Clooney’s new film “Suburbicon.” The actor fondly recounted his own visits to the facility in Woodland Hills that’s both a home and a care facility for retired and ailing industry veterans.

“It’s amazing when you go out there, because the one thing you realize is that we are actually a family,” Clooney told Variety ahead of the screening. “It isn’t just actors. It’s crew members. It’s family members. It feels like an old vaudeville show. There are all of these people telling stories — it’s so fun and alive.”

In addition to the facility itself, MPTF also provides a range of much-needed services to those in need in the entertainment community — from emergency financial assistance, counseling, and palliative care. But providing those services has created a budget shortfall of $7 million a year.

“We All Play Our Part” aims to boost donations from all levels of the entertainment industry with a “payroll pledge” — asking employees to commit to a small, regular contribution from their paychecks. The hope is this initiative will help bridge that gap. It’s a revival of an idea that fueled the fund in its earliest days, but since diminished considerably in favor of big giving. “In the heyday of payroll pledge, we raised, in 2016 dollars, about $10 million a year. In 2016, we raised $450,000,” reports Bob Beitcher, MPTF’s president/CEO, who recalled signing his own pledge back when he first started in the industry 27 years ago. “There was a time where the culture throughout the industry was a moral imperative to give back to others if you’re lucky enough to be working. That’s what we want to get back to.”

Clooney’s own commitment to the cause was sparked after he shot the TV show “Unscripted” at the home in 2003. After spending what he calls “real time” there, “I just felt like I wanted to participate more,” he says. “And if you give any signal like you want to help out, [MPTF board chairman] Jeffrey [Katzenberg] will make it your life’s work. He really hounded me to get more involved than I was because that’s what he does really well.”

The actor now calls his experience working with MPTF a “joy.” “I’m always proud to be a part of it,” he says. “I feel like everyone that’s involved is only involved for the right reasons. How many times do you get to say that?”

George Clooney MPTF Paramount

The MTPF is also calling on industry leaders for support in getting the word out. Paramount launched the campaign, thanks to the support of Jim Gianopulos, who serves on the board of directors. Other studios are set to follow suit, including Warner Bros. next month.

“We thought that going back to that payroll pledge was both a way to engage people in the fund’s activities but also to provide a steady flow of money,” says Gianopulos. “It’s not going to close the financial gap in and of itself but it does make people feel connected, and resurrect that tradition of taking care of our own and playing our part.”

The organization’s supporters are confident they can reach their goals — especially given that during the heyday of payroll pledge, the employment pool was not only much smaller and there was far less production. “It’s not just the five bucks out of your paycheck,” says Clooney. “That’s helpful and that will make a difference. What it does do is remind us that we’re all in this together. You’re going to see a real sense of pride in people feeling that they’re all participating.”

George Clooney Jim Gianopolus

The MPTF also offers other ways to contribute beyond just financially, such as volunteering to make calls to those who may be suffering social isolation. (“I just call Jim,” jokes Clooney.)

Rising health care costs — as we’ve seen given the ongoing debate in Washington — have only exacerbated the situation. “We are looking at this year over 2,000 industry workers and their families who, given where things seem to be headed, they’re going to lose their health coverage,” says Katzenberg. “And many of them are going to turn to us to be that safety net. We need to and should be there for them. Nobody ever knows who is going to come up with the short straw in this.”

The response so far has been overwhelming, but the MPTF is focusing on the long-term. “This is not a one-week or one-month campaign,” says Beitcher. “It’s going to be a marathon, but we’ve got a great group of people who are willing to go out there and support it. We have great confidence that we’re going to build a baseline of givers that we can count on year after year, and start getting that payroll pledge number to where it once was.”

Katzenberg recalls a conversation he once had with Kirk Douglas, which he calls “the most important words that anybody in my life ever said to me.” Douglas told him: “Jeffrey, you haven’t learned how to live until you’ve learned how to give.” That’s what’s driven his own passion for philanthropy. Simply put, he says, “Giving is a gift.”

For more information about MPTF or to donate, click here.

More Biz

  • Jackie Knobbe

    UTA Hires Agent Jackie Knobbe to Comedy Touring Division

    UTA has hired Jackie Knobbe as an agent in its comedy touring division, Variety has learned. Knobbe joins UTA after almost 20 years at APA, where she was a partner and co-head of comedy touring. She will bring a strong roster of touring comedy clients with her to the agency, including Tiffany Haddish, Lewis Black, Jeanne Robertson [...]

  • Arista Records Names Danny Cooper Senior

    Arista Records Names Danny Cooper Senior VP of Promotion

    Danny Cooper has been named senior vice president of promotion at Arista Records, it was announced today by John Boulos, the label’s executive VP of promotion. In this role, Cooper will work closely with Boulos in all areas of promotion across genres, and oversee Arista’s promotion staff throughout the U.S. He is based in Los [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Media Organizations Seek Access to Key Harvey Weinstein Hearing

    A group of media organizations asked a New York judge on Monday to allow public access to a critical hearing in the Harvey Weinstein criminal case. The disgraced producer is scheduled to go on trial on June 3 on five charges of rape and sexual assault involving two alleged victims. Prosecutors have filed a motion [...]

  • Delta Air Lines celebrates Grammy Weekend

    Halsey, Jonas Brothers, Zedd to Headline iHeartMedia Wango Tango Concert

    Jonas Brothers, Halsey, 5 Seconds of Summer, Zedd, Ally Brooke (with special guest Tyga), Ava Max, Fletcher and Tomorrow X Together will perform at iHeartMedia’s annual Wango Tango concert at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles (formerly StubHub Center) on June 1. Freeform will broadcast a 90-minute television special on Friday, June 7 [...]

  • Prince Memoir, ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ to

    Prince Memoir, ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ to Be Released in October

    The memoir Prince was working on at the time of his death is coming out Oct. 29, according to the Associated Press. Publisher Random House confirmed Monday that “The Beautiful Ones” will combine Prince’s unfinished manuscript with rare photos, scrapbooks and lyrics. Announced just weeks before his 2016 death, the 288-page book, issued in partnership [...]

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Signs of Solidarity and Strain Emerge as Week 2 of WGA-Talent Agency Standoff Begins

    Hundreds of WGA members rallied solidly behind their union last week as the industry grappled with uncertainties spurred by the sudden break between writers and their talent agency representatives. But as the standoff heads into its second week, signs of strain among some WGA members are beginning to emerge. Shalom Auslander, author and creator of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content