Showbizreporting's Blog

May 5, 2011

Saving the Lives of our own

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 6:43 pm
Tags: , ,
Dear Friends –

We are so fortunate to be in the enviable position of being ‘winners’ in our fight to maintain the Long Term Care unit at the Motion Picture Home. However, even though the commitment to continue this essential form of care for the motion picture and television industry has been affirmed by CEO Bob Beitcher and the MPTF board, we continue to be vigilant.

As you know, an agreement with Providence and UCLA to integrate their brand into the MPTF umbrella of care at the Woodland Hills campus has breathed new life into the mission of We Take Care of Our Own. As hopeful as this is, there is still controversy attached to it.

We lost a dear friend the other day at the Woodland Hills campus. Bill Campbell passed away. I was a real fan of this guy, having remembered him in the iconic Star Trek episode ‘Trouble with Tribbles’. He was a very familiar face to many of us baby boomers who sat transfixed in front of the tube in the sixties and seventies. He even acted with the king, Elvis Presley.

Our friend and supporter Arne Starr first notified me of Bill’s passing. Please keep his wife Tereza in your thoughts and prayers.

You can read about William Campbell at our website, www.savingthelivesofourown.org

Our head is still in the game of watching over the MPTF’s plans and ministrations as they go forward with their plans. Stay frosty! Stay involved!

The good thing is that you don’t have to suffer through these inane messages quite so often.

Best,

Richard

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 www.savingthelivesofourown.org.

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 http://www.thewrap.com/media/blog-post/mptf-it-was-2-years-ago-today-23889

Best,

Richard

July 6, 2010

Industry Wife and Mother Speaks Out

Subject: An Industry Wife and Mother Speaks Out
This message is from our own Pat Alexander – wife of DGA member Hal Alexander who is a resident at the Motion Picture Home’s Long Term Care unit. Please give this a read and then share your feelings in the comment section on The Wrap. There’s a link at the end. – Richard


Two years ago this September, shortly after our 57th anniversary, I admitted my husband Hal Alexander to the Motion Picture Home’s Long Term Care center.

Hal is a past member of AFTRA, SAG, Actor’s Equity, and to this day is a dues paying member in good standing of the DGA. Having been a volunteer at the Fund for 38 years, I knew that this was the only facility for my husband to convalesce and spend the rest of his days. After all, that was the assurance that I received when Hal was admitted.

No matter what your role in the entertainment industry, you were given star treatment if you were a resident. It was no different for my husband. Until lately.

It should be added that when Hal was admitted to the Fund, the wheels were already turning to close down the Long Term Care unit. It is shameful that this man who gave his life to the industry and fathered three upstanding industry professionals was misled and lied to. Now they want us to foster an environment in the home for care for those they want to wash their hands of.

I had tried to care for Hal in my home. Hal had fallen ill and needed 24-hour care. Care was not only costly, but hardly affordable at nearly $1,000 per week. The strangers that would come into my home to care for my husband created anxiety and mistrust. They were not of the caliber of Hal’s caregivers today.

Since the MPTF was the charity that was first in line when we had extra money to donate, they stepped up to the plate and relieved me and our children of the stress of trying to fulfill an impossible task in caring for Hal at home. Nothing was as impressive as the level of care that greeted my husband for a short time after he was admitted.

It’s all changed now.

The Fund is tearing the people in Long Term Care and their families to pieces. Stop this! Stop this!! Stop this!!! You may as well just put these tragic people in a crematorium and get rid of them quickly. Scatter their ashes in all of the sub-standard long term care facilities that you have pushed others in our industry to. Having done that, you would be free to do what you want with the Long Term Care and Acute Care units and you won’t be killing us, little by little, bit by bit.

It will be over quickly and we can go home and cry. As many of us who are able to pick up the pieces and carry on, we will never forget and never forgive you. More importantly, none of you will be able to forgive yourselves.

Personally, I’ll never forget the day when the handwriting was on the wall, and it was time for me to leave as a volunteer. Because I stood up for the promise that was made to my husband and the then nearly 130 other residents, I was told that I had to make a choice, that my services as a volunteer were no longer needed if I intended to fight for my husband and for long term care to stay open.

I’m not comfortable that people today who care for our beloved family members and friends cannot talk honestly and say what is in their heart without being censored and threatened. I will not let them negate my 38 years of volunteer service, nor my commitment to my husband, my immediate family, and my extended family -– those whose loved ones depend on the promise of “we take care of our own.”

Please comment:

http://www.facebook.com/l/13146PHFpsY7nZtw-uU84x0ynuA;www.thewrap.com/node/18908

February 3, 2010

SAVING THE LIVES OF OUR OWN HOSPITAL NEWS

DR. DAVID TILLMAN RESIGNS!!!

By Richard Stellar

Over a year ago the Hollywood machine that had Jeff Katzenberg at its helm tried to divert the course of motion picture and television healthcare. By choosing the most frail and handicapped to sacrifice at the altar of their misguided theology, their temple is toppling under the weight of public outrage. In the Biblical sense, this is not so much a David and Goliath story, as it is the embodiment of the words in Psalm 71:9 – “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.”

We have achieved our most significant victory in our fight to save the remaining residents from eviction and to return the ‘continuum of care’ that is embodied in the phrase ‘taking care of our own’.

Dr. David Tillman has resigned. This is major my friends. Take a victory lap. You’ve done well.

While we savor this event the following days will show exactly what this means. Dr. David Tillman has left the building. Unlike Elvis, it was not to a standing ovation or the tossing of lacey undies and sweaty towels onto a Las Vegas stage. Tillman left with a whimper, not a roar. I’m hoping that he left the lights on and the door ajar so that Seth Ellis can also find his way out, along with other individuals who have gleefully worked to end the reign of the Long Term Care Unit.

Our work is not done. Winning a battle doesn’t mean you’ve won the war. Please, get your friends to join us. Sign our petition.

If my mother could speak, she would thank every one of you. So would the other residents who are at risk now, and those who, thanks to you, will be able to enjoy these services during their final years.

Well done.

Best,

Richard

P.S. Sign the freaking petition already! Pretty please, with sugar on top!

http://www.facebook.com/l/71326;www.thepetitionsite.com/1/keeptheMPTFhomeopen

December 26, 2009

Christmas Caroling at the Motion Picture Home

Dear Friends –

Our SAG friends showed up in force to serenade the residents and caregivers at the Motion Picture Home last night, Christmas, 2009.

I’d like to thank Bill Smitrovich for his dedication and organizational skills. Smitty, you pulled this one off and I believe the smiles we received from the residents were payment in full for a night of fun, love and showmanship.

Please log onto our Saving the Lives of Our Own facebook page to see the great photos. If anyone has photos of the group that serenaded Harry’s Haven, please add. As a matter of fact, please add any of your photos.

We will be there again this time next year. I don’t have to remind you that the facility was to be closed down on October 20. Our victory is only a small and fleeting one. They still have plans to close.

Nothing has changed.

We have not won anything but a ‘stay of execution’. The good news is that their ranks are splintering, and many who were initially opposed to our efforts will probably be ‘jumping in for the big win’ (see Full Metal Jacket for the rest of that quote).

Have a great holiday. Thanks for saving lives. We will not back down.

Instead, we will ramp up the heat until the Long Term Care facility meets the motto of “Taking Care of Our Own” once again.

Best,

Richard

December 19, 2009

Saving the Lives of Own

Hi everyone –

It’s usually much easier to point a finger up as opposed to pointing a finger at an issue, a problem, or those responsible for the problem.

Now that we have kept the long term care facility open for the time being (the operating permit was renewed for another year), it is time to attack the root of the problem. Only in doing that will we be able to return the Motion Picture Home to its once world-class status as a care facility.

I am asking for the dismissal of CEO Dr. David Tillman and COO Seth Ellis. Beginning even before Dr. Tillman’s recommendation that the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit be abandoned, the dismantling of services as well as confidence in the fund would ultimately lead to where we are today – fighting for the future of motion picture and television healthcare.

Did Drs. Tillman and Ellis do this themselves? Of course not, but I feel that the agenda that they continue to pursue, characterized by some as ‘successful aging’, is the death knell to motion picture and television healthcare.

As it is, they have attempted to transition some residents of the long term care unit to Harry’s Haven. Harry’s is an incredible facility for the care and treatment of Alzheimer’s patients. The dilution of the purpose and core competency of Harry’s is what is now happening.

So what will be next?

I’ve written a blog at

http://www.thewrap.com/blog-entry/brighter-side-mptfs-transfer-trauma-12003

I would appreciate your comments and your voices in demanding that a regime change is needed at the Motion Picture Home.

Hope you have a great holiday. 2010 will be our year.

Best

Richard

November 26, 2009

Request from Richard

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 1:13 am
Tags: , ,

Dear Friends –

Tomorrow marks Thanksgiving. We are so thankful for your help, ideas, love and spirit. You have indeed saved lives as we celebrate the extension of the Motion Picture Home’s operating license for the Long Term Care and Acute Care Units for another year. This time next year I hope we are in an even greater mood as we celebrate the return to ‘Taking Care of Our Own’ in its original meaning and context.

Okay, got a favor to ask of you:

I’m putting up a special page on http://www.facebook.com/l/19ae2;www.savingthelivesofourown.org. Please send me photos of you, your mom and dad, or other images that I can put up on the website under the stirring words and music offered to us by the great Keith Emerson.

Being a last minute procrastinator – I need them right away. If you can get them to me a.s.a.p. I’ll be able to post them tomorrow.

Hope you have a great holiday!

Best,

Richard

November 14, 2009

Needing a Publicist

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 12:25 am
Tags: , , , ,

We are at a point in our campaign where we need the expert help of a publicist and security consultant. If you know any who can work with us on a number of projects pro bono, please contact me at richard@richardstellar.com.

We are self-funded at this point, and have not asked for donations. Anyone helping us will be compensated with love and the satisfaction that they have helped to save lives, and the future of motion picture and television healthcare.

I was at the Motion Picture Home yesterday and I am happy to report that the residents and caregivers were all smiles. You’ve buoyed their feelings with the renewed hope that we will be able to return the MPTF to the original standard of excellent world class care that it was before the current regime stepped in.

As you may know, the original date of closing was to be late October, 2009. Here it is almost mid-November and those who refuse to leave are still there. The MPTF was forced to renew their operating license.

They will now be forced to adhere to their motto of ‘taking care of our own’ for years and years to come. We’re not giving up, and we ask you to dig in for the battles yet to come.

Great job again! You guys rock!!

Richard

November 12, 2009

The Wrap Article – STMPH

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 12:10 pm
Tags: , , ,

Dean Butler – one of the stalwart leaders of our crusade wrote this incredibly eloquent comment to the Wrap’s recent story on their tour of the Motion Picture Home, led by the fund’s spokeshole, Ken Scherer. While Ken was being lambasted unmercifully, this ray of clarity stood out in all the comments. Please leave your own at http://www.thewrap.com/article/tk-9840:

As the holidays approach its time for gratitude and peace, but its not Thanksgiving quite yet so there is still time for plain straight talk.

What a pathetic and revealing interview Mr. Scherer granted over the weekend to The Wrap. Why would the MPTF’s PR Crisis Manager allow it to happen? One could speculate that the force of events has begun to work against the MPTF’s draconian closure decision and now the tone of their words is shifting from arrogant certainty to verbal and body language hoping to evoke sympathy and pity from the community. Unfortunately he reveals his true agenda on the closure when he claims in The Wrap story that he can’t think about what to do with the buildings after the units close because he’s “too emotionally concerned with what ‘to do’ with the patients.” What “to do” with the patients? Scherer and his team don’t see their patients and residents as people to whom they made a promise of lifetime care, but rather as stuff they don’t want anymore.

At first the MPTF resolutely claimed they “had no choice” but to close. Now they’ve made “a few mistakes” and Mr. Scherer expresses concern that the organization’s reputation has been damaged by media and blogs that have publicly challenged the MPTF’s decisions since last January. Just in case you missed the story the MPTF is and has been the villain in this morality tale since the beginning. There is a right and wrong in this story and the MPTF is humanly, ethically, and morally wrong. They hide behind financial shortfalls that nobody believes exist.

Yes, Mr. Scherer, there have been mistakes — like making life changing decisions for residents in a vacuum, commissioning closure studies from consultants who were paid to provide pre-determined results, violating first amendment rights of family members, using social workers to mislead and frighten patients, having the in-house Rabbi comfort frightened residents by telling them “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger”, placing security guards and studio police cars at entrances to intimidate visitors, banning family members from campus, restricting press access to residents who disagreed with the closure decision, and intentionally locking doors to inhibit the free movement of residents in their home. Now Mr. Scherer is trying to affably distance himself and his fellow managers from their own hardball tactics. Yes, there were many mistakes — now — because their tactics didn’t work. If residents and their families had compliantly moved to other LTC facilities months ago their tactics would be smugly celebrated from behind the closed doors of their elegant Saban Health Center offices.

For Mr. Scherer to blame the media and blogs, such as this one, for the MPTF’s troubles is both delusional and galling. Nobody is responsible for the MPTF’s sinking reputation but MPTF leadership. The MPTF created this issue by abandoning its historic mission of charity. Members of the management team and board may be lying awake at night trying to figure out how their miscalculations destroyed their reputations and the trust our community once had in the MPTF. The good news is that there is nothing wrong with the MPTF’s historic mission. The MPTF’s problems reside in the leadership agendas that abandoned the mission. But management issues can be solved by new faces or, as in the case of Ebenezer Scrooge (a holiday reference), an enlightened view of the future.

Mr. Scherer looked uncomfortable as he tried to find the right words to shift the MPTF’s role from villain to victim. Is this a change of heart or sober reflection on the potentially devastating impact of legal action if the MPTF proceeds on its original course? If MPTF leadership believed they were on solid legal ground, our often disheartening knowledge of them suggests LTC residents would have faced even more aggressive tactics as the October 31 closure deadline approached.

Even as the MPTF bobs and weaves looking for the moral high ground that has eluded them since the beginning of this crisis, our community, in ever growing numbers, continues to support LTC residents who are in jeopardy of loosing their homes. Sadly, they aren’t the only victims of this MPTF misfire. In fact, the residents of the MPTF’s Independent and Assisted Living communities face an equally frightening plight because they live each day knowing that their MPTF LTC safety net is, at present, gone. They are all only one unexpected incident away from loosing their homes and their life affirming contact with spouses, friends and caregivers — a fact that MPTF management has refused to acknowledge. Maybe they’ve just lost sight of what is so clear to the rest of us — eventually most every resident on the Wasserman Campus will need LTC. If they can’t get it at MPTF, Independent and Assisted Living residents will be forced to leave their home…maybe never to return. Is this the new “aging in place” mission in action?

And so the days pass and the perception of winners and losers is giving way to the necessity of survival—for all parties involved. Keep your eyes open everyone…we’re going to be subjected to some fantastic, if not particularly believable MPTF performances in the weeks ahead.

Mr. Scherer, Dr. Tillman, Nurse Ellis, Mr. Mancuso, Mr. Katzenberg, Mr. Koch and all the rest of them who have caused and supported this nightmare are now seeking to stave off their day of legal comeuppance and save their public lives. And frankly, all things considered, we hope they can. In the weeks ahead we’ll be hearing more and more language calculated to release the pressure that’s been building steadily against them…and maybe right around Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza, as if by magic, they will find the solution that only geniuses like them could have found…and the home will be saved, the fundraising money will roll again, and all will be forgiven. And Hollywood will have another story of redemption and the community will have gotten what its wanted and demanded all along — a happy, principled resolution to a crisis.

SMPH Victory Lap

Thanks to your involvement, the involvement of the Screen Actors Guild and The Teamsters, the caregivers, as well as the ominous presence of the resident’s law firm Girardi + Keese – The Motion Picture and Television Fund has extended the operating permit for both the much embattled Long Term Care center and Acute Care Center for another year.

On the face of it, this is a major win for the residents who refuse to leave and their supporters. Originally, everyone was to be cleared out by the end of October. Because of our efforts to keep the LTC open, they have not been able to meet this goal.

As we reflect on our efforts and savor this ‘win’, we need to reaffirm our goal to keep the LTC open.

By open, I don’t mean just providing basic care for the remaining residents. Our goal is to return the LTC to the state it was before the current regime got their mitts on it. By that I mean a world class, thriving and robust skilled nursing facility that was a model to other facilities that are today thriving in spite of the same challenges that seemingly have toppled the Motion Picture Home.

So, we are not done – not by a long shot!

We need your continued involvement, passion and spirit. We need your friends, your family, your co-workers – anybody who is either in the motion picture and television industry, support industries, or friends of the people in these industries.

We need you to publicize our efforts on your facebook page, and to provide a link to our petition. We need more signatures, thousands of them.

Let’s leverage this victory by keeping the LTC open and serving the needs of the industry. Let’s bring the entire campus back to a calm sanity where there is no fear of eviction if one of the elderly residents develops a debilitating disease or injury.

Let’s move onward and call for the termination of those that oppose keeping the mandate of “Taking Care of Our Own” in its original context.

Here is the link to the petition. Please enlist more of your friends to our cause.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/keepthemptfhomeopen

Thank you again for your participation. You are saving lives, you have saved lives.

Best,

Richard

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