Showbizreporting's Blog

January 14, 2011

Saving the Lives of Our Own Hospital

Dear Friends –

It was two years ago today that the letter announcing the closure of Motion Picture & Television Fund Long Term Care was sent to spouses and children of the elderly nursing home residents. The letter gave us roughly 60 days to move our family to other facilities. Upon inspection, many of these facilities did not come close to the level of care or cleanliness of what was the only viable care facility for those who paid into it over the years.

Our elders, who in most cases had no more money left to support their care in an upscale facility, were about to be cast to the wind.

We stood up, and made a difference. As you are well aware, the Long Term Care unit is still active, and the MPTF has voiced their commitment to continue Long Term Care in the future. We rallied here on facebook, in the streets, on the Internet, and in the hearts of the motion picture and television industry. While we were waiting for A-list actors to stand among us, we decided to be proactive, and in the end, we didn’t need them.

Our work however is not done. The fight that began as saving a nursing home has turned into a Motion Picture Home campus wide struggle to insure the continuum of care. The fight that began on behalf of 130+ of the most elderly and infirm residents turned into a wave of consciousness whose aim is to insure skilled nursing and long term care for generations to come. The fight that began in Woodland Hills, CA has raised issues of elder care worldwide. The motion picture industry is a template for the world when it comes to charitable outreach and diversity. Now it will be a shining example of how ‘we take care of our own’ in a modern world.

We don’t cave to temporary economic challenges by plucking the low-hanging fruit of the elderly to salve our concerns. We dig into our pockets and use our creativity to raise funds.

In this case, it wasn’t about money – it was about compassion. And you showed it, delivered with a resolve that left the MPTF board shaking.

The third year will be the charm. Please hang in there and become even more involved in this struggle. It’s not over, not by a long shot. We will take the momentum we have and continue to shine a light on this to the industry and to the world.

Please enlist your friends to join us. Tell your industry brothers and sisters about the plight of the elderly at the Motion Picture Home. Join us at

You have already saved some lives, let’s continue to save more – along with the future of motion picture and television healthcare.

Please see my blog at




August 4, 2009

Save the Motion Picture Hospital

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 12:24 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Hawk Koch, spokesperson for the MPTF’s own version of Cash for Clunkers, has produced a YouTube ‘tour de farce’ that has resulted in embarrassing results for both Koch and the MPTF.

I invite you to check it out for yourself! I’ve written a blog about it at:

In the blog is a link to the video. I’m hoping Hawk’s movies get more than one star. I’ve reviewed it, and I give it one finger – up!

Please leave your comments on my blog, and your reviews on Hawk’s YouTube site. His ludicrous reasons for the closing of the LTC would be laughable, if the consequences were not as dire.

If you want to bypass my rant (and I don’t blame you), go directly to the YouTube video at:

As always, we are indebted to you for your great support.



June 11, 2009

Save the Motion Picture Hospital

Hi everyone. This blog is currently on Please distribute it to anyone who cares about our mission. Please click or copy the link below and add your voice to my blog. Michael Douglas needs to see this, and needs to react to it: — June 08, 2009, 1:30PM CDT Michael Douglas … How Kirk Must Be Ashamed of You! By Richard Stellar Michael Douglas has had such an illustrious career in the entertainment business. It’s like I grew up with him. “Streets of San Francisco,” the producer of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” — hell, Gordon Gekko, playing opposite Glenn Close and Demi Moore in those hawt films. “Falling Down” — fantastic! “An American President” (my wife loves this — a bit too much of a chick flick for my tastes), but then comes “Traffic” — freaking awesome! What an inspired, consummate actor that defines the characters he plays and creates timeless cinematic art. I congratulate him on receiving the AFI Award this week. Like his father Kirk, another great inspiration — an American icon. It’s obvious that the apple has not fallen far from the tree. Unfortunately, the polish on the apple is dulled and there seems to be rot threatening what is underneath the peel. Michael Douglas, how painful it is to lump you into the group that is evicting my mother and her fellow residents from the Motion Picture and Television Fund Long Term Care facility. How ashamed Kirk must be that you are not championing the rights of motion picture and television workers whose home and health care is being ripped out from underneath them like Gekko’s hedge funds. How can you not see down the road on where this is going? How ignorant are you about the fate of Harry’s Haven — the wonderful clinic for Alzheimer patients that will be the next to go in the purge to create a ‘successful aging’ paradigm at the Motion Picture Home. “Successful aging,” if you didn’t know, is a term coined by MPTF COO Seth Ellis to describe MPTF’S new stance on elder healthcare: “we want this campus to be a place for elders to live their best lives, not a place that looks at sickness but at the key ingredients of successful aging.” I guess your father Kirk is not “successfully aging.” Don’t feel bad — neither is my mom who once worked with your father. Neither is the nearly 100 (yeah, some have died recently after being transferred by your lackies) who are receiving the best care in the country from your marvelous MPTF health-care workers. But I digress. See it for yourself. When the lawyers take over, and this becomes a bigger mess than anyone ever hoped for, how will you explain your statement that “Everyone will be happy” when asked at your press suite in the Beverly Hills Hotel? Will you then return Jeffrey Katzenberg’s phone calls when you realize that your name is being dragged through the blood and mud that stagnates around the recent deaths of the elderly who had been moved? Will you hear the sobs of despair of those who are going to be, or have been transferred against their or their family’s will to facilities that in no way meet the promise you made to them when they were admitted to the MPTF? If I asked you to read a script called “Transfer Trauma,” will you recognize the handsome, successful health center board member / actor who was unaware of the real reasons behind the closure of his beloved facility? Would you cringe at the pain and suffering of the old people who slowly die, their minds addled with confusion and despair as to why they are being forced to leave their homes? Would you be able to smell the piss and decay in the hallways of the facilities that they end up in? The ones that your character recommends in mailings to their families? The script is very descriptive of that, and there’s not much dialog. The dialog between the board members and the families are virtually non-existent, so don’t worry about memorizing a lot of lines. Your character is practically mute. In this modern day American tragedy, your character fumes and festers over what is going on, and in the end, speaks out too late. I’m not going to spoil the ending if I tell you that your character’s legacy is one of elder abuse, eclipsing what should be a legacy of brilliant acting and charitable giving. That’s the tragedy — a fallen hero whose life is shadowed by a mistake in judgement, and eclipsed by a moral dilemma. As you accept your AFI Life Achievement Award, please know that this fan thinks that nobody else is as deserving of it. If Michael Douglas is on the marquee — I’m there. I’m not just saying that, it’s true. I’m a huge fan and have been for years. Please stand with the families of the elderly and infirm under your care. Please renounce the evictions and work with us to find a way to keep the LTC open and thriving as it has been. Please look into the financial smokescreen and the “successful aging” nonsense that is being evangelized by MPTF executives. You don’t need this in your life. We need you in our lives. Please reach out to us and help us. You know how to contact me.

June 2, 2009


Hi everyone

Our principals have been working diligently with Girardi – Keese. I’ve been authorized to give you the following message:

“To all concerned, we are working closely with the lawyers on a daily basis. Diligent efforts are underway to secure our goals.
It is important to get your paperwork to Girardi & Keese, 1126 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90017-1904, ASAP. …and be sure to tune into Tom Girardi’s radio show CHAMPIONS OF JUSTICE ! Airing every Saturday at 5:00 pm on KRLA 870 AM.

Now, don’t start raging. Those of you who are part of the action, with relatives and loved ones that are involved, you are invited to e-mail with your questions. By e-mailing, you’ll be able to receive confidential news regarding the legal action that would be ludicrous to send out to everyone on facebook.













So, if you know someone who knows someone – please e-mail me at:



Save the Motion Picture Hospital Guestbook (MAR. 1, 2009)

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 5:05 pm
Tags: ,

This is the link to the Save the Motion Picture Hospital Guestbook. Check out who signed it. You won’t believe who are supporting this good cause.

Save the Motion Picture Hospital (MAR. 1, 2009)

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 4:57 pm
Tags: , , ,
A few networks like ABC were there to film statements by Lilly Tomlin (who was late) and the other celeb protesters.

Then Katzenberg’s press conference time was suddenly pushed up, and all of the camera crews ran inside to hear what he and Michael Douglas had to say. The camera crews only returned later to film the protesters marching in the dark and grab some quick sound bytes from David Carradine and those celebs still available. The police demanded that the amplified portion of the protest — heard by the party guests gathered poolside — end at 8 PM even though the organizers had paid for the proper Beverly Hills permit to use amplification equipment and a time to stop wasn’t specified. Many of the limos pulling into the party rolled down windows to give the picketers the thumbs up. “I am hopeful there is an awareness growing for the tragedy that is taking place at the MPTF,” one of the protest’s organizers told me. 


The Wrap: Part 2 – As Elderly Are Displaced, MPTF CEO MAKES $ 600,000 (FEB. 9, 2009)

By Andrew Gumbel
 The administrator of the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s troubled retirement home in Woodland Hills commands a salary well in excess of half a million dollars a year, including a 20 per cent pay raise he was awarded shortly before the home announced that in order to avert bankruptcy, it was kicking out more than 100 infirm residents.
 The salary figures for Dr. David Tillman, the MPTF’s chief executive, and other top officials are not widely known among the health-care workers and residents’ families now protesting the decision to shutter the MPTF’s long-term care facility and hospital before the end of the 2009.
 They are, however, publicly available via the MPTF’s tax filings, and reveal numbers several times higher than is normal in the world of non-profit retirement homes – not to mention higher than the cap President Obama placed last week on the salaries of corporate chief executives receiving federal bailout money.
Tillman earned $502,200 in 2006 – when, according to MPTF officials, if not according to their own audited accounts, the home was already aware of a looming financial crisis. That salary figure then ballooned to $596,957 in 2007, the last year for which figures are available.
The MPTF’s chief financial officer, Frank Guarrera, saw his pay jump from $359,162 in 2006 to $411,153 in 2007. Taken together, the two men earned well over $1 million.
“That’s absolutely exorbitant,” said nursing-home expert Betsy Hite of the California Association of Health Facilities. “The average nursing home administrator makes maybe $100,000. This is clearly out of the norm. People who typically care for the elderly do it because of a calling in their heart, not a calling to the bank.”
The MPTF’s own audited accounts show that total salaries and related expenses came to  a staggering $60.7 million in 2007, up from $58.9 million in 2006.  Although exact employee numbers are not available – the fund did not respond to requests for the figures – the United Healthcare Workers union represents 573 full- and part-time workers at the home. Assuming the fund employs another 100-200 people, that means the average annual income comes to somewhere in the $80-$90,000 range.
That kind of money is not going to licensed nurses, who earn about $25.50 an hour plus another $9 an hour in benefits, according to California HealthCare Foundation figures. Nursing assistants earn around $17.50 an hour.
One financial expert unconnected to the home, who did not wish to be named, commented: “How on earth can they justify $60 million per year in salaries? That’s insanely high. They’re not an investment bank, they’re a retirement home.”
The executive salary figures have provoked astonishment among residents’ families now campaigning to keep the long-term care facility open, and among United Healthcare Workers officials worried about the announced lay-off of an estimated 240 staff at the home.
The figures are also likely to raise eyebrows in the wider Hollywood community, since they represent a signficant portion of the charity funds raised, say, at Jeffrey Katzenberg’s annual pre-Oscar Night Before gala, which hauled in more than $6 million in each of the past two years, or at any of the other benefits held for the home and its residents.
“I think it’s obscene when highly paid administrators are crying the blues about lack of funding to keep infirm, elderly residents in place,” said Richard Stellar, an activist whose 91-year-old mother is one of the long-term care patient targeted for eviction. “I’m also disappointed that Dr. Tillman – a doctor — is doing the bidding of a board that has put a price on the heads of these people.”
The elevated salaries are just one piece of a growing puzzle about the MPTF and the financial crunch it says has motivated the closures. As TheWrap reported yesterday, the MPTF’s own accounting figures and tax returns show no sign of the $10 million losses mentioned in the fund’s press releases and public statements. While the MPTF says its reimbursements from Medicaid and MediCal have been going down, its tax returns show that receipts from the government in fact increased in both 2006 and 2007.
Even before TheWrap revealed those figures, the UHW and residents’ families complained they had not received the proper explanation they feel they were owed – particularly since the closure announcement came completely out of the blue.
“There’s no transparency,” Stellar said. “The residents are people who have given up pensions, social security payments and so on to get into the home. They all have a financial stake in the Motion Picture home, yet they got no report from the board that the fund was in trouble.”
News of the closures has created at least a temporary desire in many people to open their pocketbooks if it can still make a difference, but it is far from clear whether the MPTF is welcoming their initiatives.  Union officials said they had heard stories of people offering money in the past few weeks specifically to the long-term care facility, only to be told that they have to contribute to the general fund instead.
 Saratoga Ballantine, co-director of a forthcoming documentary about residents of the MPTF home entitled Troupers, said she felt sure Hollywood would rally to the cause if asked. “Someone should take a big ad out in Variety,” she said, “and appeal to those $20 million-a-movie people, people who have the money, to save their own. It’s always been about actors coming forward to save their own.”
 Certainly, plenty of prominent actors, writers and directors are expressing their displeasure. Elliott Gould, an actor who cares passionately about the health and retirement benefits offered by the Screen Actors Guild and other Hollywood unions, told TheWrap he found the news “sad, depressing, ominous and disappointing, to say the least”.
 “The home was a shining beacon of an accomplishment that is certainly being eliminated and taken away from us,” Gould said.
 Activists are planning a candlelight vigil outside the home Wednesday night, starting at 5 p.m.
 Residents themselves have been shy to speak out and highly reluctant to invite reporters to visit them on the campus. “What can we do?” retired actress and MPTF resident Connie Sawyer said by telephone. “It’s all over… It’s gone. There is no point in you coming out here.”
 According to Stellar, fear is now rampant, even among those in independent housing who are still fit and healthy. “People are scared shitless,” he said. “Some of them think people are going to come for them in the middle of the night. At that age, folks are very fearful about what small time they have left on the planet.
 “They had one comfort left – that they are in a place where they can live out their days. That’s now been taken away from them.”

The Wrap: Part 1 – MPTF Residents Despondent ~ Six Have Died Since Closure Announced!!! (Feb. 8, 2009)

PART 1: MPTF residents despondent: six have died since closure announced!!!

Part I: MPTF residents despondent; six have died since closure announced
Tax returns, audits contradict stated reasons for hospital shuttering

Mary Stellar, pictured here with her son Richard, is a resident of the MPTF long-term care facility; in earlier years, she worked as an assistant to Cubby Broccoli, the James Bond producer. (Inset: Mary at a special screening of “A View to a Kill” on the MGM lot in 1985.) Photo: Andrew Gumbel

By Andrew Gumbel

When the Motion Picture & Television Fund announced last month that it was shuttering the long-term care facility and hospital at its Woodland Hills retirement home – effectively ending the comprehensive care it once provided to aging actors, studio employees and film technicians — it painted a dire picture of itself as a charitable organization on the brink of financial ruin.

The foundation established by Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin 87 years ago said it was losing $10 million a year because of ever-diminishing Medicaid and Medi-Cal reimbursements to its elderly residents, and risked depleting its endowment completely within a few years if it did not act immediately to stanch the flow of red ink.

There is, however, a major problem with that explanation: it does not appear to be entirely true.

The numbers being bandied about by Jeffrey Katzenberg, the MPTF’s chief fundraiser, and other officials do not square with the organization’s own official accounting numbers and tax returns.

Those documents – the most recent filed with the Internal Revenue Service in November 2008 – show no $10 million losses, or any losses at all. The fund’s assets – described in one press release as “draining… at an alarming rate” – actually increased in 2006 and 2007, the last year for which figures are available.

And while it is true that Medi-Cal reimbursements have indeed declined since last summer for hospital care (though not for other medical and nursing-home services), the fund’s accounts show a net increase in government reimbursements for both 2006 and 2007.

One nursing care expert who has looked closely at the reimbursement numbers, Betsy Hite of the California Association of Health Facilities, characterized the MPTF’s explanation of the closures as “hogwash.”

Officials from the United Healthcare Workers union, which concluded a nine-month long contract negotiation with the MPTF last April, said they researched the fund’s finances extensively and found no cause for concern.

The MPTF opened a new state-of-the-art gym and fitness facility, the Saban Center for Health and Wellness, in July 2007. The multi-million dollar project seems inconsistent with an organization in financial trouble.

The MPTF itself offered no comment to TheWrap when challenged on the apparent discrepancies. Fund officials were given several opportunities – both over the phone and in writing – to explain their accounting figures and refute the allegation that they were not telling the truth about them. But they chose not to, saying only: “We are not doing any more interviews on the subject.”

The closures, announced without warning last month, have provoked widespread consternation inside the home itself, as well as in the entertainment community at large.Many in Hollywood have privately expressed outrage and embarrassment at the impression that the entertainment industry cannot take care of its own.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, the DreamWorks Animation Chairman who heads an annual fundraiser at this time of year for the MPTF Foundation, has felt it necessary to offer public explanations, though he has done so only on Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood blog, where he refused to be quoted.

Some of the 100-plus frail residents threatened with removal to other facilities before the end of 2009, many of them in their 80s and 90s, feel “tormented” and are reluctant to eat, according to a letter sent by several MPTF families to the home’s chief executive, David Tillman.

A tour last week of the long-term care facility revealed an impeccably kept home, where even the most infirm residents — who spend the day in wheelchairs or loungers — have their hair done every morning and have make-up applied to their faces if they or their families request it.

The anxiety, however, was also immediately obvious. The closures were the number one topic of conversation among nursing staff and those residents lucid enough to understand what is happening. One woman took to her bed as soon as she heard she was being evicted and refused to get up again for a week, according to nursing staff. Another, who had been in apparently good health, died very soon after getting the news.

In all, at least half a dozen residents have died since the closures were announced – a far higher death rate than usual. “Some have stated that they do not want to live if they have to leave their home here; they prefer to die right now without going on to some other place,” the letter sent to David Tillman said. Tillman declined to be interviewed for this article.

Residents and their families say they are in touch with a heavy-hitting Los Angeles law firm and are looking into a lawsuit to force the MPTF to keep at least the long-term care facility, if not also the hospital, open. Richard Stellar, a web marketing designer whose 91-year-old mother Mary is one of the threatened residents, has been involved in the protest efforts and says his only wish is for the home to do the right thing.

“I think they do have genuine concerns about the future of the fund, and genuine concerns about how to operate in California because this state is in a lot of trouble,” Stellar said. “Medi-Cal payments may not be as robust as they once were. But the MPTF is not the only game in town. Other places are facing the same acute challenges but are not throwing anyone out.”

The MPTF’s explanations for the closures  at its long-term care facility and hospital at its Woodland Hills retirement home – and the lay-off of one-third of its total staff — have raised eyebrows, and questions about the true motivation, since the first news release on January 14.


The official release presented an apparent inconsistency by saying, on the one hand, that the MPTF was suffering $10 million deficits and had already been forced to dip into its investment reserves to make up the shortfall. But the release also quoted Katzenberg chairman who chairs the MPTF Foundation board as saying the problems were mounting fast but that the fund was still “in good shape today.”

The accuracy of the release was further called into question when Katzenberg summarily fired Allan Mayer, the crisis management consultant who wrote it. However, when Katzenberg spoke to Finke, he painted, if anything, an even gloomier picture.

Katzenberg reaffirmed the existence of $10 million deficits and said the MPTF board had known the closures were coming “for years.” He said the reason the fund had not raised the alarm earlier was “for all the right compassionate reasons.”

Since then, Tillman and other MPTF officials have pushed another line of argument. It was impossible to make the acute-care hospital cost-effective, they said, because it had no more than five or ten patients at any one time, but needed to maintain a full staff to comply with state licensing laws.

They thought about closing the hospital and keeping the long-term care facility open, but without the hospital the home would fall into a different funding category and Medi-Cal reimbursement rate for home residents would go down to an untenable level.

“I can assure you our board and our finance people know how this works with the state,” MPTF spokeswoman Jennifer Fagen said. “This is not something anyone wanted to do.”

The explanation has not passed muster  with many nursing-care experts and residents’ families. Hite, the California Association of Health Facilities expert, said it beggared belief that a home could lose $10 million a year when its Medi-Cal reimbursements were well over the state average — $320 per patient per day, compared with a state average of $223 per day, according to figures compiled by the California HealthCare Foundation. The MPTF receives about 80 per cent of its patient care funding from Medi-Cal.

Hite also explained that reimbursement rates for reputable homes have actually increased since 2006 under a new payment regime negotiated with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The new policy  rewards institutions that invest in improved care and punish those that proverbially “water down the orange juice” in an attempt to keep more government money for themselves.

“Most nursing homes are doing quite well, if they are well run,” Hite said.

That analysis appears to be borne out by the MPTF’s own tax returns, which show an increase in “program service revenue including government fees” from $65.4 million in 2006  to $74 million in 2007.

Medi-Cal payments are now under threat because of California’s budget crisis, but most of the threatened cuts have yet to be enacted. A successful lawsuit filed against the state last summer prevented a 10 per cent cut in Medi-Cal payments from going into effect in all areas of care except for hospitals. Although there is now talk of new cuts for 2009, a budget deal is still pending in Sacramento.

The accounts and tax returns suggest the MPTF wasn’t in fact in trouble at all – at least not until very recently. Accounts prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers last May and posted on the MPTF’s own website show that in 2007, revenues exceeded expenditures by $16.7 million. The fund’s net assets, meanwhile, grew over the year from $154 million to $168.8 million.

Figures filed with the IRS in November are slightly different but follow the same basic pattern. The MPTF’s Form 990 return – a publicly available document — shows an excess of $10.6 million in revenue over expenditure for 2007. The fund’s assets are shown to have grown from $158.6 million at the beginning of the year to $171.7 million at the end.

These figures do not, of course, tell us what happened to the MPTF during the Wall Street meltdown in the last four months of 2008. The Mayer-authored press release said the fund was now worth less than $130 million. Katzenberg told Finke much the same – that the fund had lost 30 per cent of its value.

 Many people have asked the MPTF if it did not make some catastrophic investment now threatening its existence. Katzenberg personally lost millions to the fraudulent investment advisor Bernard Madoff, but the fund itself has denied any involvement with Madoff. It has given nothing else away about its investments.

Quite what is behind the abrupt closure announcement remains a mystery. In the absence of a widely accepted explanation, rumors are naturally abounding — everything from involvement in a Madoff-type Ponzi scheme to a Chinatown-style secret land deal. All of this is, however, pure guesswork. MPTF executives have told residents that they are planning to replace the hospital and long-term care facility with an assisted living condo complex, although they have made no public announcement. The financial details of such a building project also remain unknown.

MPTF’s Super-Secret “Camden Report” (Feb. 10, 2009)

MPTF’s Super-Secret “Camden Report”

I’ve been trying to get my hands on an internal Motion Picture & Television Fund and Foundation’s document called The Camden Report because it looks at all the different ways that the MPTF could have trimmed costs without resorting to the closures of the acute care hospital and long-term care nursing home at the end of 2009. Well, here’s its summary:







Create a free website or blog at