The Motion Picture & Television Fund, the prominent Hollywood charity founded over 100 years ago by Mary Pickford, “desperately” and “urgently” needs donations amid a steep drop in cash reserves, its president and CEO is telling industry leaders.
“Coming through the pandemic, every member of the MPTF fiduciary team has been forced to take a hard look at our financial circumstances; and right now, things don’t look good,” Bob Beitcher wrote to industry leaders in an email on Tuesday. “Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, MPTF has incurred a staggering operating shortfall—the result of COVID-related costs for residents and staff on our campus in Woodland Hills, nursing shortages and lower occupancy rates, and lost revenues from our major events during the pandemic—all costing us over $20 million.” Deadline was the first to report on the message.
According to an auditor’s report for the timeframe ending Dec. 31, 2021, the MPTF’s total assets were $114.4 million as of the end of 2021, while its liabilities totaled $56.4 million. Since then, stock and many bond investments have generally suffered amid the current financial climate.
The MPTF is perhaps best known for operating the MPTF Country House and Hospital, a retirement community for industry workers in Woodland Hills that houses over 200 residents. The Fund also manages healthcare facilities for those in the industry alongside UCLA and offers counseling, financial aid and social services for the elderly, among other resources. Earlier in the pandemic, the MPTF facilitated COVID-19 relief funds for IATSE, the Directors Guild of America, ViacomCBS and others.
Along with The Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund), the MPTF is generally considered an important stopgap for entertainment workers in need.
According to Beitcher, MPTF has always survived on a year-by-year basis with deficits and is now “operating in dangerous territory, rapidly depleting our cash reserves.” Beitcher continues, “Our ability to continue to support the thousands of industry members on our campus and in the community who depend on MPTF for food, shelter, charitable assistance, medical care, and socialization literally hangs in the balance. Without some dramatic infusion of funds, we will not be able to take care of our own much longer.”
Beitcher’s message ends by encouraging industry leaders to make a giving pledge of at least $20,000 per year for five years and to connect the Fund with other potential donors. “I know we can solve this, because we must if MPTF is to outlast this financial crisis and continue to provide services to our community,” Beitcher writes.
The MPTF’s board of governors is populated by boldfaced names in the industry, including directors J.J. Abrams and Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros. Television Group chairman Channing Dungey, mega-producer Greg Berlanti, Enteratinment Studios CEO Byron Allen, former WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff and former Walt Disney Television chairman Peter Rice. The board of directors, chaired by former Paramount Pictures CEO Jim Gianopulos, contains a mix of studio and labor leaders, including the Directors Guild of America national executive director Russell Hollander, IATSE president Matthew Loeb, Wasserman Media Group chairman and CEO Casey Wasserman and Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein Lezcano Bobb & Dang partner Nina Shaw.
In 2021, Jeffrey Katzenberg — a longtime champion of the organization — stepped down as chairman of the board after 30 years of working with the Fund, saying at the time, “The success of the MPTF for the next generation is something that all of us on the board of directors and the board of governors are deeply focused and concerned and excited for.” That year, the MPTF launched a massive fundraising effort focused on raising $300 million.
Alex Weprin contributed to this report.
Oct. 25, 12:53 p.m. Updated to differentiate between the MPTF’s board of governors and directors.