At Long Last, ‘Vanity Fair’ Publishes MPTF Piece — Online Only

Analysis: Well-written piece is marred by a serious case of Jeffrey Katzenberg worship

All Vanity Fair needed was a happy-ish ending.

The magazine finally unveiled its piece on the crisis at the Motion Picture & Television Fund's longterm care center — though online only.

The publication came two days after Wednesday’s dramatic announcement that the MPTF has entered into a non-binding letter of intent with Providence Health & Services that will keep its longterm care facility and acute care hospital open.

As TheWrap exclusively reported last month, the magazine pulled David Margolick’s 5,000-word examination of the battle from its annual Hollywood Issue because of space limitations.

Also read: Victory at the MPTF, A True Hollywood David and Goliath Story

With a dénouement in the works, the magazine fired up fact-checking on the piece earlier this week, TheWrap has learned. One can only assume it was rushed online Friday morning to stop it from becoming too stale.

The result is a beautifully written, exquisitely detailed piece that is nonetheless marred by a terminal case of Jeffrey Katzenberg worship.

So what do we learn?

In Margolick’s telling, ousted MPTF CEO Dr. David Tillman is the villain, and Katzenberg (a friend of Vanity Fair publisher Graydon Carter) is a resolute defender of the cash-strapped fund. Margolick said that Katzenberg declined to comment for the story, but the story is sticky with his fingerprints.

If the DreamWorks Animation chief has been tireless in his financial support for the MPTF,  the failure also happened on his watch – he chaired the MPTF Foundation board throughout the fiasco. 

Instead, Margolick offers up fellow board member Casey Wasserman, who rhapsodizes “[Katzenberg] could have found 10 ways to Sunday to jump out of this thing, but never once have I seen him flinch … He is a fighter through and through. I’m fairly certain no one else like him would have done the same thing.”

We are also told that Katzenberg had long been unhappy with Tillman’s leadership and decision to concentrate on building “subsidized clinics” instead of “ serving Hollywood’s truly needy.”

Really? Katzenberg has been noticeably absent since giving himself that F in early 2009. He is MIA when it comes to defending the Fund's actions – leaving Ken Scherer and now Bob Beitcher to absorb the public backlash.

But the piece doesn’t explain why Katzenberg allowed Tillman to hold onto the reins of power for so long. The board had legitimate reasons for pushing to close its acute care operation, but Tillman’s mismanagement set the stage for a pitched battle that has caused pain for hundreds of people, drained the fund of valuable resources and distracted the MPTF from its historic mission.

Moreover, the decision to replace Tillman with the more politically adroit Beitcher took place only after TheWrap published embarrassing details about the MPTF CEO’s bloated compensation package.

Katzenberg surely bears some responsibility for continuing the Tillman experiment well beyond its natural expiration date. But you won’t find that story in Margolick’s telling. (Instead, Vanity Fair continues its penchant for using kid gloves on Hollywood moguls. Is that any surprise, when there’s an Oscar party to throw on Sunday?)

What does Margolick get right? A whole lot.

All of the major players — from Beitcher to family members and bomb throwers such as Richard Stellar — are here. The broad outlines of the conflict are perfectly presented, with a nice, wholly deserved dig at the A-listers who decided to sit this conflict out.

Above all, the extraordinary efforts and formation of Saving the Lives of Our Own is painstakingly documented, with a well-deserved shout out to its founder Nancy Biederman, who has done the yeoman’s work of trying to save the facility.

There are also several references to TheWrap’s award winning coverage of the fight to preserve the home and hospital, albeit with the requisite old media condescension. TheWrap's coverage, according to Margolick, was "lavish." 

  • Go for Justice

    Thank you for continuing to report and reveal the truth. There is so much more that was not revealed in the on-line Vanity Fair article – like the huge ‘conflict-of-interest’ regarding Seth Ellis – who was the Treasurer of the Camden Group which is the organization paid 1.2 MILLION DOLLARS by the MPTF to say “People prefer to age at home” at the same time as he is also the Chief Operating Officer of the Motion Picture Home.
    That is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the LIES and DECEIT…

    Only in the entertainment industry can this kind of “CREATIVE BOOK-KEEPING” exist and not be challenged. They created the crisis to show the Home losing money when they wanted to show it.

    The reality is that they – Tillman, Ellis, Mancuso, Fischer and Katzenberg are all guilty of using their Hollywood power to make it happen. They continued to empty the beds, to appear that the finances of the Long-Term Care facility was losing money. They are liars! There are always residents in the cottages and villas on the campus who should be moved in, as their health deteriorates. It is ELDER ABUSE to make them move away from their loved ones, or to hide the fact that they are needing more nursing care, so they can stay.

    The MPTF Board are criminals stealing money from the MPTF fund – no better than the city officials who used their appointed power in the Bell community. They should be on trial for their arrogant abuse of power. BUT Everyone is afraid of their show biz careers, when the name Katzenberg is involved.

    And if we are really still paying the rat bastard Tillman – he most certainly is laughing his head off, as he vacations for the rest of his life with the pay-off package. I want to see him strapped to a dirty wheelchair, and pushed into the Jodie Foster state-of-the-art Infinity Pool. Or at least – ROT in prison.

    This is a Hollywood version of Watergate – and justice will one day triumph.

  • David Teaman

    Correction to comment from “Go For Justice”

    Nurse Seth Ellis, COO of the Motion Picture & Television Fund has never been Treasurer of “The Camden Group” who provided the “paid” consultants Report to Fund Leaders [including Seth Ellis] which was used by Fund Leaders for closing down the Motion picture nursing home and hospital and giving the sick elderly residents notice to get out. The Fund Leaders said they had no choice but to close down the home and hospital because of what the Camden Group Report recommended.
    Guess what. MP&TF COO Seth Ellis was/and probably still is the Chairman of “Partners In Care” [which used to be The Visiting Nurses Foundation].
    Guess what. The President of The Camden Group, the paid consultants to the Fund Leadership, is the Treasurer of “Partners In Care.”
    Get it.

    • Go for Justice

      Comment to David Teaman-

      How do you spell CONFLICT OF INTEREST and LIARS ?

      Don't defend the assholes who paid themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars to take our future away !!! Tillman gave himself a $128,000.00 RAISE in 2007 or 2008, and is still getting another 2 MILLION in compensation – and Ellis makes around $400,000.00 every year. These men need to be investigated and in prison for what they have done to the Motion Picture Fund and the Woodland Hills campus….they are no more than the rats that run through the closed cafeteria.

      The Board like Mancuso and Fischer are the idiots who closed down the studio system, out-sourced Hollywood production and sent jobs out of state or to Canada ! They now want to decide our health care – and take that benefit away also.

      Wake Up and you can smell the shit that they shovel out to bury the ‘below-the-line’ workers – especially as we age.

    • James

      Are you saying that the COO who is paid by MP&TF is the Chairman of an organization that supports visiting nurses? If that is the case he gets a nice salary from the MP&TF to run the hospital and home, but has a bias against it. Unbelievable.

  • Fact checker

    Fact-check please. Katzenberg was chairman of the Foundation Committee, the fundraising group that rarely, if ever meets. Mancuso and Fischer were chairs of the Boards operating the Fund.

    • Guest

      Uh Katzenberg was chairman of the Foundation Board until that board became a committee in 2007 and now he is head of the committee. He has raised millions for the fund and will raise more in the years to come. We are grateful for his support.

  • Jw

    Something else we learn from Margolick is that one weekend Katzenberg sat down with administrators and the chief nurse to review the cases of every resident. Really?