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MPTF Hopes to Ease Post-Pandemic Fundraising Crisis with First-Ever Telethon

Nonprofit looks to raise $500,000 through KTLA special set for Dec. 10

MPTF
Courtesy: MPTF

The Motion Picture and Television Fund has been the favored charity of Hollywood’s elite for generations. Founded 101 years ago, the non-profit operates a home for industry retirees and provides grants to film workers in need, and lives by the insular motto “We take care of our own.”

But after being battered by the pandemic, the organization is now asking for help from outside of the entertainment community. On Saturday, MPTF will hold its first-ever telethon on KTLA, asking the general public to contribute.

“This is our opportunity to say, ‘Hey, you live in Southern California. Hollywood is the largest industry. You’ve spent your life watching great film and TV,'” said Bob Beitcher, CEO of MPTF. “Now it’s time to think about the people who are making it or made it.”

The MPTF sounded an alarm in a fundraising letter in October, warning supporters that increased costs and declining revenue during to the pandemic had left a “staggering operating shortfall.” The organization operates a nursing home, which saw skyrocketing costs to pay for COVID testing and isolation. The MPTF has also been hit by a shortage in skilled nurses, which means it cannot fill its beds and thus earns less revenue.

On top of that, the annual fundraisers became virtual events during the pandemic — and brought in less money. Since March 2020, reserves have dwindled from $40 million to less than $20 million, Beitcher said.

Beitcher has said the MPTF needs to raise $10 million to $12 million by the end of the year to help right the ship. He said the purpose of the fundraising letter was to send the message: “We’re struggling. We’re in financial distress. Unless the industry steps up we’re going to have to make some big decisions.”

“And some people have,” he said, “but not to the level we would have hoped.”

The KTLA telethon, set for 7-9 p.m. PT on Dec. 10, had been in the works for a while, but the recent alarms about the organization’s dire financial condition have given it a new sense of urgency. Industry favorites Yvette Nicole Brown and Tom Bergeron will host, and there will be performances and appearances from a long list of celebrity guests.

Courteney Bailey, chief development officer of MPTF, said the mood will be one of “hopeful urgency.”

“It’s not doom and gloom,” she said. “It’s a wakeup call. It’s a call to action.”

The goal is to raise $500,000, she said.

“We’re reaching an audience who does not know who we are,” she said. “Many don’t work in the industry. So we have to combat that stereotype that Hollywood makes all this money. If people really know what Hollywood means — it’s thousands of people beyond what you the general public know as Hollywood. These are people struggling — grips, makeup artists, writers. This is the real Hollywood.”