On Saturday, Feb. 6, a new regime descended on the embattled MPTF that introduced a much-needed spirit of compassion and giving.
Thanks to the successful backyard auction at the home of Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna the week before, clothing donated by the entertainment industry quickly found its way directly to those in the embattled long-term care unit.
This same auction, cobbled together in only a couple of weeks by Taylor and Nancy Biederman, raised more than $30,000 for the most elderly and frail residents at the Motion Picture Home.
One image that probably is most representative of the Hollywood spirit that will ultimately save the LTC unit and the future of motion picture and television healthcare was the photo I captured with my phone (left). Amidst the clutter of designer tops, robes, track suits and wigs was actor John Schneider, on his knees, carefully selecting the perfect pair of shoes to fit resident Ava Bliss.
This wasn’t a PR hack’s suggested pose that, once shot, would find John tossing the shoes to some underling. There was no make-up available or publicists accompanying him. I just looked down and there he was: involved, assembling an electric wheelchair, and fitting shoes like a geeky college kid at a shopping mall shoe store.
He’s our friend since day one. He gets it.
Other celebrities should aspire to be like him, or like Bill Smitrovich, Anne-Marie Johnson, Ken Howard, Jamie Farr, Trey King, Michele Santopietro, Elliott Gould, RJ Mitte, Taylor, Bologna and a growing list of others who are now beginning to stand with the residents and their families.
Symbolically, in one afternoon resulting from one backyard auction, we were able to reverse 10 years of bad karma compliments of Tillman’s embittered regime.
Despite the orders barked to security by Seth Ellis on the other side of a part-time nurse’s phone, we stood our ground respectfully, and moved when asked like good boys and girls, while handing out some nice threads to those who built the industry that pays Seth Ellis’ inflated and ill-deserved nearly $400,000 annual salary.
Don’t be fooled by Tillman’s departure. He’s still there. As long as Seth Ellis walks the halls of the Pavilion (by the way, Seth, the ice machine is still broken), the specter of Dr. David Tillman still haunts the Motion Picture Home. As long as Seth Ellis is around to advance his "successful aging" program, we have not gained anything. We still have our work cut out for us.
However, I do have some news for Seth: We aren’t the voiceless elderly who are either fraught with dementia or scared to speak out. We aren’t the low-hanging fruit of the fund that you thought would be so easily plucked and turned into mulch. We aren’t the "buff seniors" who flit about your dreams like steroid-addled sugarplum fairies. We aren’t the architects and designers who accompany you around the LTC.
We don’t support you. We want you out. We will see you on the unemployment line with Tillman, along with your cohorts who rub their hands in glee when discussing the eviction of our elderly.
In a moment of comedic relief whose timing had to be angelically inspired, a clueless Ken Scherer walked into our midst to use the ATM machine.
His discomfort was palpable as I offered a greeting over the pile of clothing and wigs. The cash machine couldn’t dispense his wad of twenties fast enough.
As he turned tail, I should have asked him for a donation. Knowing that it would fall on deaf ears, I was hoping Ken would stick around so we could demonstrate that the industry is willing to donate — but only to an MPTF that has not lost sight of its charter of "Taking care of our own."
I had heard that interim chief Bob Beitcher had, on Friday, authorized our foray into the LTC to distribute the clothing. But, in true MPTF fashion, our new chief whose first words were the admission that "we f***ed up" had "f***ed up" himself, as nobody was given the word that we were to be there.
Why am I not surprised?