We've Got Hollywood Covered

Lies and Damned Lies

The Motion Picture and Television Home’s story on long-term care facility closing doesn’t add up.

The line between what is true and what is a lie is often blurred. What used to be the truth is now couched in terms like "plausible deniability," or "white lies and half truths," or "political spin."

Sometimes a lie is soft and expected, especially when fishing for compliments. Other times, a lie can be as jarring and cold as picking up the phone and finding a Sarah Palin robo-call at the other end of the line.

There are lies, and there are damned lies.

At the end of the day, however, a lie is what it is: a lie.

We who are fighting against the closure of the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s long-term care center have been dealing with lies, half-truths and spin for a long time. We knew it — we just wanted you to know it.

Our conjecture — that the reasons for closing the much beloved MPTF Home hospital and long-term care center were based on mistruths and misstatements — is well-known.

As much as we whined and opined about what appeared to be double-speak at best from the mouths of the MPTF spokesholes, we were hesitant to actually condemn them and give them a royal time-out to stand facing the corner for being liars as their pants blazed.

"Liar" is a powerful accusation, and not a term you would want to hang on caregivers and those who pay those caregivers, especially when they are caring for your own.

Or, for OUR own.

I bring this up because it seems we have caught them in a lie. A big lie. I’d single out Ken Scherer as being the mastermind that controlled the mouth that regurgitated and misspoke, but that would be giving him too much credit. Ken is merely a puppet who puts a friendly face on the MPTF. Cherubic, smiling, polished — looking at him, he’s hard not to like.

But then again, so was Chucky, the scruffy doll from those cheesy horror movies that would lie (or is that lay) innocently, soundlessly in his box until reanimated by forces from a netherworld that enabled his diabolic mischief. Just like these guys who get their strings pulled by the hapless and oft-derided MPTF PR machine.

Scherer claimed that the MPTF wanted to work with each family to look for "a beautiful bed" for each of the residents. What kind of crap is that? They are in a beautiful bed. The beds that I’ve personally seen of some of the facilities on your short list are anything but beautiful. They reek. They are piled four to a small room.

Come on, Ken, check these places out before you buy the bullshit that the MPTF is selling. Those who
fall victim to transfer trauma are not dying in beautiful beds. These aren’t California queens with 1,000-count Egyptian cotton sheets and duvets. These are death beds, Ken.


That’s why we had a feeling of vindication when it was revealed by Steven Mikulan of TheWrap that Ken Scherer did lie when [pull string]  "Scherer denied that MPTF had ever set a timetable in motion to satisfy a specific deadline."

According to Mikulan, within hours TheWrap received evidence that there indeed was a date set of October 2009 to close down the facility. At least, that’s what Seth Ellis communicated by letter to Eric Stone, who is a supervisor for the Department of Health Services.

I spoke personally to Mr. Stone after the DHS granted the MPTF their closing. According to Mr. Stone, the MPTF was deficient in the notice that it gave the families. Mr. Stone was at a loss to explain why the MPTF did not provide information on how to protest the closing.

Lies by omission.

If these are the first lies uncovered, believe me, they won’t be the last.

What has been revealed is probably the tip of the iceberg, one that silently waits for the good ship Motion Picture and Television Healthcare to sideswipe it, creating a hull breach that sinks the promise of We Take Care of Our Own.

Attorneys for the residents have yet to show their hand. In Bob Beitcher’s blog of Oct. 27, he reveals: "The attorneys for many of the members of Saving the Lives of Our Own are in possession of MPTF¹s audited financial statements and countless other financial documents that were provided by MPTF¹s attorneys. They have not disputed or challenged our numbers."

Well, my guess is that just because you haven’t heard them dispute them yet, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Also, Mr. Beitcher, another error on your part: The attorneys represent the residents, not Saving the Lives of Our Own, although we do share a common counselor and premise (the truth).

My question is, when do lies become fraud?

If we find that any of the reasons given to close the long-term care facility that resulted in the transfer and subsequent death of a resident were fraudulent, or based on lies, then what? Justice is blind behind that blindfold, even to the gleaming teeth and Klieg-lit events sponsored by the MPTF executives.

They’ll mimic the shock that was painted on Bernard Madoff’s face when the hammer came down. We learned from that. Even the wealthy can be brought down and made to answer for their sins.

Would the legacies of those mentioned in past blogs be tarnished by a kerfuffle that nobody thought would reach this level? If a verdict of manslaughter was handed down, who would pay? Would these model businessmen consider the beds to be "beautiful" in prison? Or would they finally get the connection?

Oh yeah, Mr. Beitcher, your blog title, "MPTF: Its Business Model Accelerated Its Demise," is an apt title, but a bit off.

What accelerated the demise of the MPTF was anything but a business model. It was businessmen gone amuck. The MPTF was once a model business; you’ve made it a failed business model.

Winner of the Los Angeles Press Club's best blog award and a Southern California Journalism Award for his HollyBlogs, as well as an award for the Facebook group that helped to muscle the salvation of long-term care for the motion picture and television industry, Stellar's "vituperative blog on TheWrap" (Vanity Fair) focuses on issues related to the motion picture and entertainment industry. Stellar is founder of The Man/Kind Project, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to fight religious and cultural intolerance through the arts while building bridges of tolerance for all people. Stellar lives in Woodland Hills, California, with his wife of over 30 years, Nuala, and much too much Beatles memorabilia.