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A Movable Timetable: How MPTF’s Deadline Shifted

With 66 residents currently remaining at the Motion Picture Home, MPTF has had to renew its license for one more year.

Last weekend TheWrap spoke to Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation CEO Ken Scherer in an interview that focused on MPTF’s controversial transfer of nearly 100 elderly residents of the fund’s Motion Picture Home to outside nursing homes.

In that interview, Scherer denied that MPTF had ever set a timetable in motion to satisfy a specific deadline.

However, within hours of the interview’s appearance, TheWrap received copies of two letters, dated Jan. 14 and 22, 2009, in which MPTF Chief Operating Officer Seth Ellis informs a state health department official of the fund’s intention to close the home and adjacent acute-care hospital “by October 2009.” In the second letter, Ellis requests a suspension of the fund’s acute-care license for a period of two years, beginning in October 2009.

If October wasn’t a deadline, it sure sounded like one. TheWrap contacted the fund again, and asked Seth Ellis for clarification.

“Our goal,” Ellis replies, “has always been to close by the end of the year and we are optimistic that we can reach that. If it doesn’t happen we’ll have to deal with it.”

Ellis said Oct. 31 initially emerged as a logical date to close the home because that’s when its license expires. However, that was before the public outcry against the home’s closure and the emergence of an activist group, Saving the Lives of Our Own, that has been fighting the shutdown.

With 66 residents currently remaining on the Woodland Hills campus, MPTF had to pay to extend its license. Ellis says that renewal is good for one year – raising the theoretical possibility that the drama could drag on at least that much longer.

According to Ellis, the fund could at some point be forced to issue 30-day transfer notices. If that happens, he said, residents would have an additional month to appeal – meaning 60 days from the time such notices are issued.

In hindsight, the vociferous pushback by residents and their families might have been foreseen by MPTF when it publicly announced in January that it was closing the home, which it claimed was pushing the fund $1 million a month in the red.

“It was not anticipated,” Ellis admits. “It certainly elongated our time frame.”

The question on everyone’s mind, of course, is what would happen in a worst-case scenario, if there remain holdouts who refuse to leave.

“Again, our goal,” Ellis says, “has always been to close by the end of the year and we are optimistic that we can reach that."