We've Got Hollywood Covered
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Without Providence, Where Does That Leave the Motion-Picture Home?

Bob Beitcher seems to get it — so why, exactly, did the deal implode?

 

 

It was during Yitzkor services that my father came back to me.

My head was bowed in silent prayer with the rest of the congregation. I was laying in his bed, with him. My head was nestled in the crook of his arm. Vin Scully's voice was on the radio. My dad loved to listen to the Dodgers at night, and it was a special time when we both listened together.

I could smell him — the mixture of nicotine and Scotchguard (he was a furniture salesman), and I vividly remembered the glow of the ember at the end of his cigarette. My father came to me like that as I prayed for his soul, as others were praying for the souls of those that they loved and lost.

My dad ended his life on his terms. He laid down on a gurny as he was prepped for an angiogram. He gave the nurse his car keys, instructed her to give them to my mom, and then softly said, "'I think I'm going." He did, peacefully. That was it. No convalescing in diapers, no nursing home, just a suitable ending for a man who gave more to people than he received.

My mom was a different story. At her funeral, in my eulogy to her, I remarked that she was a woman who would listen to Howard Stern in the morning and watch Lawrence Welk at night. She was strong, independent, and impervious to being typecast. She was Old Hollywood, and in her later years she was dependent on the industry that she worked so hard for.

As I prayed, I could smell the burnt toast that greeted us every morning, and the feeling of vertigo that came along with her daily route up Coldwater Canyon as she drove to her beloved MGM studios.

That dependence served my mother well. My mother made a commitment to the industry that overshadowed anything else. Even her family. I have no unfinished business or misgivings about my mother. She was who she was, and when she wasn't, the Motion Picture Home was there to be her parent, her caregiver, her nurturer.

When she was dying and I rushed to the hospital that they transported her to, I fell into the arms of a Motion Picture Home employee who I had castigated relentlessly in my blogs. In my weakness and emotionalism, I was shown the real power of the Motion Picture Home. This man, who probably fully expected a public rebuke and banishment from the room where my mother lay dying, was there for my mom.

He was the representative of my mother. It was on his ferry that my mother's soul passed. The vitriol that I hurled at him and others was not on his agenda, and I was too weak and too much of a hypocrite to wage war as my mother slipped away. It was about my mom, as far as he was concerned.

The Motion Picture Home is an institution that had fallen into the wrong hands. The commitment that these elderly people had made to their industry was now in jeopardy of not being repaid. We hung together, the family members, and unleashed hell on the street and on the Internet to bring back a semblance of the care and commitment that greeted our loved ones when they were admitted.

In the end we were given hope in the guise of Bob Beitcher, who had replaced David Tillman as the CEO. Beitcher seemed to get it. He was real, and his vision was and hopefully still is for the future of long term care.

Then came the big disappointment, that the deal with Providence was off. I had heard from a journalist weeks before that the Providence deal had "blown up." There were rumors circulating, all seemingly without any basis, at least to me. I was not in the loop nor did I ever expect to be when it came down to "the answer" to the MPTF's ills.

I and others had questions — why had the deal imploded? Was there any worth to a "non-binding letter of intent" other than a document that served more to placate the bad publicity than to bring about closure to the issues of care.

Could it be that Providence had no faith in a management staff who had conspired, authored and manipulated their credo of 'we take care of our own' into something more twisted? Could it be that a COO who was quoted as saying that the Motion Picture Home "was no place for sickness" was still at the helm, in an authority position, and commanded a staff whose care was fraught with incidents and accidents that brought the Health Department in on an almost regular basis?

And what of Bob Beitcher? As he deflects the reports from journalists in publications like the Los Angeles Times, on TheWrap and on Deadline.com, he characterizes the news thusly: "Once again, the future of long-term care at the Motion Picture & Television Fund is a subject of great interest in the blogosphere."

I have news for you Bob, the great interest comes from reports by award-winning journalists, some of whom won awards for their uncovering of the lies that were told by your previous administration. I believe you owe these people an apology.

So what of the future? Are we to believe that another offer, maybe even better is waiting in the wings? Now that Providence has left, where does that leave the Motion Picture Home? What of the empty beds that can be filled by motion picture and television elderly?

What's the excuse now why you can't allow others to enjoy the benefits that they paid for during their careers?

Most importantly, what of those in management whose hands are dirty? They've failed at closing the LTC down. How are they then going to succeed in providing care now and in the future? How do they fit into the new LTC, in whatever form it will take?

There was a reason today that the memory of my father was so vivid. My father was all about the truth, and held some very stringent protocols. To this day, I can't throw a penny away, even if it seems like the most convenient thing my lazy ass could do. My father once saw me do this, and he lit me up like nobody's business. It was a simple rule from a simple man who grew up with nothing, and struggled to keep a roof over his family's head. I know that all of our parents are out there watching what we do during this time. Do we lay down and accept the platitudes and pontifications of a fund that still employ's the architects of the end of long term care, or do we start fresh with a new team?

 

If it was up to my dad, everyone would hug it out and be friends. Thankfully, I'm more like my mom.

 

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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.