David Tillman, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Television Fund, is resigning, the fund announced Tuesday. Although the news came without warning, rumors of a shake-up of the MPTF hierarchy have been swirling for the past month -- and it's possible that Tillman's exit from the fund won't be the last.
No reason was given for his departure.
Tillman, who presided over the controversial closure of the Hollywood home for the aged's hospital and long-term care facility a year ago, will be replaced in the interim by Bob Beitcher, an MPTF board member since 2007.
“We are grateful to Dr. Tillman for his stewardship of the Fund. He has presided over a vast and complex health care and social service organization during challenging times with loyalty and dedication,” said Frank Mancuso and Joe Fischer, Chairmen of MPTF’s Corporate and Fund Boards, respectively, in a news release.
Tillman, a medical doctor, was criticized for taking a 20 percent pay raise, earning about $600,000 annually in 2007, while at the same time shutting down key services to the fund's most vulnerable residents -- about 60 of whom have declined to move.
At the time, Tillman's salary figure was characterized as "absolutely exorbitant” by nursing-home expert Betsy Hite of the California Association of Health Facilities, who said the average nursing home administrator makes in the neighborhood of $100,000.
Tillman's latest salary was unknown. The IRS has not posted documents disclosing Tillman's salary for 2008, though his 2007 salary was available in public documents at this time last year.
In the uproar raised in the Hollywood community over the decision to close two central parts of the Motion Picture and Television Fund home, Tillman has been virtually unseen. He has not given interviews or responded to numerous requests for comment from TheWrap. On a tour of the facility by Wrap reporters a few months ago, Tillman was not present.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the Motion Picture and Television Fund for the past 10 years as President and CEO,” Tillman said in a prepared statement. “During this period, we have made a positive difference in the lives of many people. I am extremely grateful to have been part of that process. However, I believe the timing is right for me to resign my position. I am taking this action in my own best interests as well as in the best interest of the Fund.”
Almost from the moment of the surprise January 14, 2009 announcement of the fund's closure of the long-term care unit (colloquially known as the Motion Picture Home) and its adjacent inpatient hospital, a war has raged between the MPTF and residents who wish to remain on the 44-acre Wasserman Campus in Woodland Hills.
A few dozen have moved, but many have declined to do so.
Last Saturday, actress Renee Taylor acknowledged the standoff at an auction she organized to benefit the 60 refuseniks still at the home. Noting the attendance at the auction of lawyers representing the residents and their families, Taylor said those very same attorneys could file a lawsuit against the fund, but that the time and money spent on the effort would be better used to rebuild the home and its population.
While the home's closure has gained scant space in the mainstream media, the anti-closure activists have led an unrelenting shaming campaign against the MPTF, whose board members include Jeffrey Katzenberg and Frank Mancuso.
(Text of the release below):
WOODLAND HILLS, CA, Feb. 2, 2010 – The Boards of Directors of the Motion Picture and Television Fund today announced that Dr. David Tillman has resigned as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Bob Beitcher, an MPTF board member since 2007 and former president and CEO of Panavision and Technicolor Creative Services, has been named CEO on an interim basis.
“We are grateful to Dr. Tillman for his stewardship of the Fund. He has presided over a vast and complex health care and social service organization during challenging times with loyalty and dedication,” said Frank Mancuso and Joe Fischer, Chairmen of MPTF’s Corporate and Fund Boards, respectively.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the Motion Picture and Television Fund for the past 10 years as President and CEO,” said Dr. Tillman. “During this period, we have made a positive difference in the lives of many people. I am extremely grateful to have been part of that process. However, I believe the timing is right for me to resign my position. I am taking this action in my own best interests as well as in the best interest of the Fund.”
In announcing the appointment of Bob Beitcher as interim CEO, Mancuso and Fischer thanked him for his willingness to take on the position and said, “Bob has been a valued Board member and played an integral role in dealing with the Fund’s challenges. In addition, he has shown a willingness to take a leadership role in the philanthropic efforts of our organization. He will work closely with Foundation CEO Ken Scherer to engage the community in the ongoing support of MPTF through an active outreach campaign. We have also asked him to make the Long Term Care Unit his highest priority and to ensure that we continue honoring our commitment to the comfort and care of our residents as we transition them to other high quality facilities.”
In accepting the appointment, Beitcher said, “I have been in this industry for over 25 years and I love this organization, what it stands for and all that it does for our community. I am absolutely committed to doing everything I can to enhance the Fund’s ability to meet the growing need for health care and social services now and in the future, and to continuing the charitable mission of the Fund. With the support of its outstanding staff, the Fund has an exciting opportunity to address the growing needs of our industry members in innovative and progressive ways.”
The Board plans to actively pursue the search for Dr. Tillman’s permanent successor.
# # #