What If They Had A News Conference, And Traditional Media Didn’t Come?

So TheWrap is about two weeks old. And it’s making waves. That’s why we’re here. But I’m pretty saddened and shocked to attend an audio news conference today that was called in the wake of our investigative reporting about the plight of the weakest members of the Hollywood community. And I could perceive no one […]

Last Updated: February 11, 2009 @ 9:17 PM

So TheWrap is about two weeks old. And it’s making waves. That’s why we’re here.

But I’m pretty saddened and shocked to attend an audio news conference today that was called in the wake of our investigative reporting about the plight of the weakest members of the Hollywood community. And I could perceive no one there from the media establishment except the Los Angeles Daily News.

If the Los Angeles Times was there, its reporters were silent as a tomb. (But thanks to the Times’ Patrick Goldstein for praising our reporting on his blog.) No Variety. No Hollywood Reporter.

Everyone’s going through tough times. We get it. But if traditional journalists, the folks who still draw a paycheck and have a proper newsroom, are not going to show up to hold major institutions accountable for their treatment of those who cannot control their surroundings – what’s the point of the exercise?

At today’s news conference MPTF Foundation chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, Frank Mancuso, Chair of MPTF Corp. Board, and a host of other high-powered individuals gathered to explain what they should have explained weeks ago – why they decided that it is a fiscal necessity to close the high-end hospital and long-term care facility.

As if out of the blue, about 100 elderly, sick people are being moved from their place of residence at the end of their lives. To read the comments on our stories – not to mention our reporting by Andrew Gumbel — not only are these people distraught about it, but so are their families and the caretakers who are devoted to them. There was also a protest vigil this evening.

We got a few more answers today, but not many. We learned the endowment has shrunk to $65 million. That the fund lost 25 percent of its value in the last four to five months. That’s more than we knew before. Nikki Finke, the intrepid dragon queen of Hollywood, took the “goniffs” to task (see our dailies column, though I believe Fox’s Jim Gianopulos speaks way better Yiddish than she does ) – and got in an oddly chummy sparring match with “Jeffrey” and “Frank,” in which she dressed down the moguls while explaining that she was not necessarily criticizing the decision to shut down.

Regardless, she showed up, and that’s what mattered.

No one left time at the news conference to talk about Dr. Tillman’s $600,000 salary, or his 20% pay raise last year. That’s a bit much, after all.

We all want to believe that the moguls have their hearts in the right place. Surely Jeffrey Katzenberg has given lots of millions to the MPTF, though he won’t tell us how many millions.

The problem is that Hollywood has a tin ear when it comes to this stuff. Here’s what the rest of us hear: Old people are being evicted because of a $20 million shortfall.

That’s the marketing budget for a medium-sized movie. That’s Nicole Kidman’s salary on two pictures. That’s the third weekend box office for “Paul Blart.”

That’s the problem. And if the MPTF thinks none of us get it, I’d say to them – you folks are missing the point.