It’s a $350 million project starring George Clooney and produced by Jeffrey Katzenberg, with the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Hollywood workers on the line.
But… it’s not a movie.
The Descendants Oscar-nominee and the DreamWorks Animation chief joined forces today to announce a campaign to raise that amount for a charity that is very close to many in the Hollywood community, the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a nonprofit group which provides support and services to entertainment-industry workers in their old age or if they hit hard times.
The fund provides healthcare, senior care, and crisis services to nearly 60,000 people annually, and has been in existence since 1921, when it was founded by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith, among others.
Katzenberg, chairman of the MPTF Foundation, said raising $350 million “is the way my generation can ensure that MPTF will be there to serve future generations forever.”
In reaching out to their industry at a press event Thursday, just prior to the Oscars, Clooney showed off an old coin box, marked with the original name of the charity — Motion Picture Relief Fun — and said it was an example of how even tiny donations back then could make a difference. “I was raised to believe that as a community we should be judged by how we take care of people who can’t take care of themselves,” Clooney said. “This is our community. This is our commitment.” Though it would take a lot of coin boxes to total $350 million, he and Katzenberg are hoping the industry will dig much deeper.
Some already have.
Katzenberg and his wife Marilyn are longtime supporters of the charity, and Clooney’s name is on the list too, along with major gifts from producer Steve Bing, Tom Cruise, TV and film executive Barry Diller, Fox Entertainment Group, David Geffen, Michael Lewis, former Univision CEO Jerrold Perenchio, The Hangover filmmaker Todd Phillips, producer Joe Roth, bio-tech executive Patrick Soon-Shiong, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw Spielberg, Legendary Pictures founder Thomas Tull and wife Alba, entertainment and sports executive Casey Wasserman, and ER producer John and Marilyn Wells.
So far, Katzenberg says they have helped land $200 million for the cause, more than halfway to the goal.
The organization’s CEO, Bob Beitcher, said one reason for the ambitious fund-raising effort is that over the next 20 years the baby boomer generation will be fully retired, and approximately 100,000 entertainment industry workers may be turning to the fund. “The fact is that today we can’t anticipate what kind of help and support they’ll need from MPTF,” he said. “But we can be certain that there will continue to be needs that otherwise won’t be filled without the support of our charity.”