Motion Picture and Television Fund Home (MPTF) raised $860,000 in a locally broadcast telethon last Saturday, its first attempt at such an event. The officials at Woodland Hills, California Nonprofit said COVID costs had put its budget in a precarious position.
The event featured movie and TV stars and a live TV “F-Bomb” from actor Aubrey Plaza who stars in “White Lotus.” Alongside the telethon, the “Lights, Camera, Act! Auction” featuring items from photographers Jeff and Susan Bridges.
Designed by famous actress Mary Pickford, MPTF was created to help people in the entertainment industry who had fallen on hard times. MPTF supports active and retired members of the entertainment community with health and social services, including temporary financial assistance, case management and residence living.
While walkie-talkies launched many new careers, hundreds of actors, directors and writers who hadn’t foreseen the change in the industry or their livelihoods found themselves out of a job. In 1921 the Motion Picture Relief Fund (MPRF) was incorporated with Joseph M. Schenck as president, Pickford as vice-president and the Reverend Neal Dodd, who portrayed ministers in over 300 films as an administrator. It has become MPTF.
The event was organized by American actress and comedian Yvette Nicole Brown and former talk show host Tom Bergeron. It aired on KTLA Channel 5 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., said MPTF Courteney Bailey, director of development, and took six months to prepare.
KTLA approached MPTF about six months ago regarding the event, which was also sponsored by City National Bank and UCLA Health. The station had experience of such events, having aired one for Project Angel Food in Los Angeles.
Like many industries, the entertainment industry has been crippled by the pandemic. While most people know the stars of blockbuster movies, they have no idea of the thousands of people behind the scenes, Bailey said. It was an unexpected $9 million hit to the bottom line.
The event was one of the few times the general public was made aware of the organization’s needs. Famous faces are helping but the need is great, she said.
The MPRF does not turn people away, she said, and that has taken a toll on the reserves. Net assets grew from $73 million in 2019 to $55.8 million in 2020, according to the organization’s most recent federal Form 990 data. Total revenue increased from $44.6 million in 2019 to $57.6 million in 2020.