Sharing the Stage with Villains of MPTF

Sanity now threatens to spread, as we eat away at the board's plans to evict the elderly.

I was involved in a presentation to the Animation Guild Local 839 last Thursday night. Having been invited after its board steadfastly refused to endorse our efforts to stop the Long Term Care closure, I felt the warm breezes of acceptance and understanding from Guild president Kevin Koch. He graciously extended the invitation to both us and the MPTF scoundrels after many a shared e-mail and phone conversation.

We were to go on after Ken Scherer laid out the MPTF board's position. Ken is usually a great opening act for us. However, this time we were open to the Guild's idea of sharing the dais with the affable Mr. Scherer, but that was not to be.

The MPTF board once viewed us as merely a pimple on the backside of their plans to change the face of motion picture and television health care. The ground we have gained in inciting the industry against their nefarious plans to rid the MPTF of the most elderly and handicapped have now become a dermatologist's worst nightmare! The pimple has popped, and sanity now threatens to spread like Ebola-gone-wild, as we eat away at the board's resolute position to evict the elderly. They avoid us like the plague that
they are foisting on all of us.

So now we have become a force to be reckoned with, and I reckon that Ken Scherer's avoidance is the manifesto of the higher-ranking commandants of the fund. I've met Ken, and all things considered I might have liked him in another life had he taken a different route rather than the road he travels being the fund's hatchet man.

I arrived during Ken's presentation. Once in the Animation Guild's stark and sterile quarters, I crept upstairs to view the proceedings, and it looked more like a bar exam than a presentation that should pique the interest and chill the blood. Ken's droll delivery appeared to be bouncing off the animators like plastic rings at a carnival ring-toss booth that's fixed.

Our approach is a bit different and definitely more lively. We opted to be animated with these animators, and tell them the real story. Everyone enjoys a tale of good against evil, and we all but wear white hats when we lay out the facts and enlist souls to fight for the future of health care.

Our mission when we follow Ken is to mop up the conjecture, half-truths, and misleading statements that spell doom for the continuum of care at the Motion Picture Home. We were there in force that night, and even brought along John Sparey, a real animator residing at the Motion Picture Home. He was eloquent and convincing. Ken brought along Mark Fleischer, grandson to animation pioneer Max Fleischer.

I imagined John and the spirit of Max Fleischer up there alone on the dais — maybe these two men could hammer out a solution via the creativity of a cartoonist vision that redefines reality, and embraces those who society would rather throw away. Maybe Mark should pay homage to his grandfather by embracing these elders and keeping alive the promise of "taking care of our own."

Yeah, that'll happen.

As convincing as we were it became obvious that these Animation Guild guys who fall under the shadow of IATSE are hesitant to rock the boat. Had this been a feature-length Disney cartoon, I might have been a weight-challenged Donald Duck trying to convince Goofy to close the barn door so the old horses don't escape.

No matter how much I personally pleaded to one of the Animation Guild brass, it all came down to Katzenberg, Dreamworks, and the union's position with both. Goofy didn't get it, and while he scratched his head and guffawed over the plight of the horses, they were being turned to glue.

I was reminded that the Animation Guild was a part of IATSE, and that IATSE had a couple of its execs on the MPTF board.

My head was spinning from the incestuous tale of what should challenge the best conflict of interest attorney. Where are all the health professionals on this board?

Why are studio heads, media giants, celebrities and union execs running this healthcare center?

Had I been at the helm of the Guild, I might have also taken a Switzerland position. Looking after the well-being over welfare may comfort those during these tough times — but I can tell you that times will get tougher when you are facing your later years and in need of round-the-clock care.

Thank God that the members we presented to were more prone to being proactive rather than placid. The Animation Guild might be hesitant to back either us or the MPTF, but the members we met seem to relish a good fight.

As we answered their questions, we felt that the connection had been made with at least the rank and file, if not the upper echelon of the union. We look forward to working with them in adding to the heat that SAG, the Teamsters, and other organizations are amping up.

So a hearty thank you goes out to Kevin Koch and Steve Hulett. We said our peace and ate their pizza. I'm just hoping that they step into the fray sooner rather than later. They're not getting any younger.

Special announcement: Please join us Saturday evening for our exciting rally in Century City. Get all the details at www.savingthelivesofourown.org