We've Got Hollywood Covered

MPTF: ‘Its Business Model Accelerated Its Demise’

COMMENTARY: Even if David Tillman worked for free, it would not change the reality that these facilities must close.

The Motion Picture and Television Fund’s Wasserman Campus continues to be a vibrant retirement community with a dedicated and committed staff. The campus is “home” to more than 200 industry retirees and their spouses who reside in our independent and assisted living facilities as well as our memory care unit. While the Long Term Care Unit and Hospital at the MPTF are closing, the residential community will continue to thrive.

The attorneys for many of the members of Saving the Lives of Our Own are in possession of MPTF’s audited financial statements and countless other financial documents that were provided by MPTF’s attorneys. They have not disputed or challenged our numbers.

The Long Term Care Unit is one of 23 units that have closed or announced they were closing in California in the past two years. A recent Associated Press story reported that the nation's nursing homes "are perilously close to laying off workers, cutting services — possibly even closing — because of a perfect storm wallop from the recession and deep federal and state government spending cuts … ” 

Because of its mission, the MPTF admitted a higher percentage of Medi-Cal patients to its Long Term Care Unit — 85 percent — than most facilities, which have an average of 65 percent, with the rest as private payers at a higher daily rate. It also focused on full-time residents rather than short-term rehab patients (again at higher daily rates). 

Its business model accelerated its demise.

MPTF CEO Dr. David Tillman’s compensation, which was determined by the board’s compensation committee with the help and advice of an independent consultant who looked at executive pay for CEO’s at comparable institutions, is both appropriate and irrelevant. He leads a charitable organization with an annual operating budget of over $120 million that includes a long-term care facility, a retirement community with over 200 residents, six Health Centers that see over 60,000 patients per year, a pre-school facility, a charity providing several million dollars of financial assistance every year to industry members. 

Even if he worked for free, it would not change the reality that these facilities must close.

It is not “a line” that the LTC and hospital must close down to preserve the other activities of the Fund. The financials we’ve provided attorneys representing many residents and others support this point. 

There may or may not be two Hollywood’s, as your Steven Mikulan asserts, but the Hollywood I know has been incredibly generous with its financial support. The heroes Mr. Mikulan is looking for are the corporations and individuals that collectively, through sponsorships, events, bequests, and contributions, provide $20 million annually to the MPTF. 

With their help, the MPTF is able to continue its legacy and mission of providing care, services and financial assistance to that part of Hollywood that, in Mikulan’s words, live “from paycheck to paycheck.” During the recent WGA strike, the MPTF provided $2 million of financial support to industry members and their families to see them through a difficult time. 

This is our core mission and we will continue to lift up industry members in today’s trying economic conditions.

With regard to the timing of the closure, Mr. Mikulan is confusing silence with the concerted and ongoing efforts of MPTF care professionals to ensure that each and every one of the 66 residents who remain in the Long Term Care Unit are safely relocated to high quality community nursing homes as beds become available. 

This process may be taking longer than we had anticipated, but that is because our focus remains on doing the best we can to meet the individual needs of each resident — exactly what we promised to do when the closure decision was announced. And since that time, 31 residents have successfully transferred to community facilities and an additional 12 have moved to other facilities on our Wasserman Campus. 

We encourage Mr. Mikulan and others to visit the Wasserman campus to see for themselves whether it is a “Kafka-esque twilight” or a thriving, vibrant community with incredible staff absolutely committed to the MPTF mission of taking care of our own.

Bob Beitcher, most recently president and CEO of Panavision, Inc., and co-chairman of MacAndrews & Forbes Media Group, has been a senior executive in the entertainment and media industry for more than 25 years, holding executive positions at companies including Lucasfilm, Jim Henson Productions and Paramount Pictures. He is a Member of the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s Board of Trustees