Rallying the Troops Around the MPTF

We can’t give up the fight for the Long Term Care unit, or be put off by a war of curse words

Last Updated: February 17, 2010 @ 1:32 PM

The terse "We f—ed up" from Bob Beitcher, newly appointed CEO of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, was not as much an admission of guilt as a clue to the mindset that is running the malt shop they refer to as the Motion Picture Home.

To encapsulate the missteps, fallacies, shoddy treatment of residents, mismanagement, hostility and cover-ups as a "f–k-up" is like Gene Hackman, as the evil Captain Ramsey, uttering "oops" when pressing the button that unleashes the nuke in "Crimson Tide."

Fortunately, the good guy, played by Denzel Washington, stepped in to stop Ramsey, who was hellbent on following a misguided directive.

We realize that it’s only a movie. However, we could use Denzel about now to help us stop the detonation of the Long Term Care unit. The evil commandant is gone, but Seth Ellis, who is seemingly second in command to the departed and defamed David Tillman, definitely has his finger on the button, or up somewhere dark and personal as he awaits the command to unleash his misguided directive.

And although Tillman is gone, unfortunately Ellis remains. For now.

The departure of Tillman may be only a smokescreen that obscures the field where the former understudy now can take center stage and summon the grim reaper on more of our residents.

The dismantling of end-of-life services at the Motion Picture Home will bring the curtain down on the future of long-term care for the elderly of the entertainment industry. "Successful aging" and "aging at home" are empty terms coined by vagrants who stand in the shadows of the doorway to motion picture and television healthcare while they beg for attention with signs saying "We Are Starving…," but the other sign they don’t show completes the thought: "…the elderly."

They have no business minding our store.

As I roamed the grounds of the Motion Picture Home the other day with a friend, I was thinking how wonderful this environment was. We saw a woman walking beside her husband, who was in an electric wheelchair. They parted company with a kiss. We remarked how sad it would be were either of them to need 24-hour skilled nursing care, which would separate them.

Breaking the reverie, here comes Seth Ellis putting around in a golf cart while squiring two VIPs. I gave him the sign of the cross, and he mouthed a hearty "F–k off!" to me. The guests accompanying him on his journey were barely able to conceal their amusement.

This refreshing dose of reality brought my mind back to our situation. The beauty of the surroundings was in jeopardy. Relationships that have withstood the test of time were in jeopardy of being torn asunder, as we found out with Scott Wainess’ parents. The wicked witch was driving a golf cart, not a broomstick. We are not in Kansas anymore.

We are dealing with different people, some good, some bad. The good ones engage us in earnest discussions and shake our hands. They recognize that we are on a mission to save the fund. We pray that they will be leaders in reversing the trend to evict the fund’s most elderly and frail and return the LTC to its once world-class status.

The bad ones feel threatened by us, and see the handwriting on the wall. They heap scorn on those of us who are fighting for the future of the fund, and issue their greetings dripping with four-letter words. We will deal with these people.

We need to rise up and let our voices be heard. We need to make contact with Mr. Beitcher. We need to tell him that we will support a Motion Picture Home that has not lost site of its mission of "taking care of our own."

We need to close ranks and come together over the plight of our elderly, and not forsake them.

We need to assure the fund that, once the LTC is recognized as an integral part of the continuum of care, that we will aggressively and creatively support the MPTF.

They have that commitment from me, and hundreds of people I know. In tough times we will work to volunteer and creatively urge those who can afford it (and we know who these people are) to pony up and write some checks. In good times, and they are coming, we will also put our money where our mouths are and contribute as many have done. As my mother has done. As my friends’ parents, husbands, wives and loved ones have done.

Please pick up the phone and respectfully make some calls. Call Bob Beitcher, the new CEO, and assure him that an MPTF without the LTC is only a shadow of its former self. It has become a facility that has lost sight of its commitment to the elderly in their final days.

Bob Beitcher: 818-876-1767

Then make a call to COO Seth Ellis, the Robin to Tillman’s Batman. Ask him to leave. Remind him that his program of "successful aging" is what will bankrupt the fund. Urge him to find employment elsewhere. Tell him what you think. You won’t reach him. He won’t return your call. But try anyway. Ask him to take his cohorts with him.

Seth Ellis: 818-876-1043

We need to fumigate and drive out the rodents who are threatening our healthcare. We got the head rat; now let’s go for the others that are standing in the way of the continuum of care.

We can achieve a successful end-of-life program that embodies itself in the Long Term Care unit. We will support it. We will see that it is well funded. We will see it thrive as it once did.

Our commitment to the elderly has not wavered.

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.