Since 1976, I have held several positions here at Time Inc., including, for the past 2 1/2 years, publisher of Entertainment Weekly. In that time I’ve dealt with many important people on a variety of important topics, and one of the most rewarding of these relationships involved a phone call I received a little over a week ago from Elizabeth Taylor.
Miss Taylor was calling in her capacity as the National Founding Chairman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to the fight against AIDS. On July 9, Entertainment Weekly was to be AmFAR’s cohost and the underwriting sponsor of a large party in New York honoring the performers of Red Hot + Dance, a new collection of dance music with songs contributed by George Michael, Madonna, Seal, Lisa Stansfield, PM Dawn, and other noted artists. The album’s sale is expected to raise millions of dollars for AIDS research and relief programs worldwide, and AmFAR will be a major beneficiary.
Illness prevented Miss Taylor from appearing at the party as planned, but she wanted to thank Entertainment Weekly for its continued involvement in the AIDS battle and to ask that I extend a greeting from her to our guests. That night, a celebrity-laced crowd of over a thousand people assembled at a midtown club, the Ritz, to celebrate the release of Red Hot + Dance.
And celebrate they did. It quickly became clear that we were hosting a party about hope — caring people working together and giving of themselves for the greater good of all. This is the spirit behind the Red Hot + Dance project, and it permeated the gathering.
In November 1990, Entertainment Weekly was also privileged to underwrite the launch party for the musical predecessor to Red Hot + Dance, Red Hot + Blue. This collection of Cole Porter songs rendered by today’s stars has raised more than $4 million to fight AIDS and the ignorance and prejudice that are so often its companions. Both Red Hot + Blue and Red Hot + Dance are stunning examples of the power that the world of entertainment and popular culture can muster to help educate, enlighten, and raise badly needed funding.
All of us here have, on some level, been touched by the AIDS crisis. And because we work at a magazine that covers the world of popular culture — a world especially hard hit by AIDS — we feel we have a special obligation and opportunity. By supporting the work of AmFAR and other AIDS organizations, and by making pro bono advertising space available for AIDS awareness and fund-raising messages, we hope we are helping to make a difference.
Opportunities exist for you to make a difference as well. If you would like to help in the fight against AIDS, please send a donation to the American Foundation for AIDS Research, 733 Third Avenue, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10017-3204. And, of course, you might also consider buying Red Hot + Dance for yourself and for friends. In a very real sense, you will be helping to share the promise of life by giving this marvelous gift of music.
Michael J. Klingensmith