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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCM Spotlights MPTF in September

Each Wednesday night in September Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will feature host Ben Mankiewicz in conversation with members of the Motion Picture Television Fund (MPTF) family including residents, donors and supporters before and after a selection of feature films. All four nights are designed to educate and inform viewers about the incredible history of the MPTF and the people who make it so special!

In case you didn't know, the MPTF was started by show biz professionals to help other industry professionals as they age and go into retirement. It was silent mega-super star Mary Pickford who spearheaded the campaign for a special home for entertainers and behind the scenes folks who needed support in their golden years. She realized the need when in her middle-age she noticed former colleagues who found themselves in dire straights, unable to pay for lodgings, let alone meals. Pickford even broke ground for the original buildings. Since that time many celebrities have lent their time and talents to entertaining, as well as raising funds, for those who have spent their lives in the entertainment industry.

I occasionally volunteer there myself. Not as much as I did when I lived in Hollywood, but I do what I can from the Inland Empire. I've painted hospital rooms, decorated Halloween parties, upgraded a home, and even had the honor of working on a short film project as an Assistant Director (that's my trade on set). I was even used as a model in a promotional pamphlet! The projects are always worthy and the people involved are a lot of fun to be around, from staff to residents. I look forward to the next time I can be a part of the festivities. And if I could do more I would.

Last year the MPTF provided over $9 million in support of those who continue to make the entertainment industry their home. You can help too, by using the large image above as a link to the MPTF home website, and donating today. MPTF honors those who have devoted their professional careers to telling stories like the ones that air on TCM through the many services they provide for retired industry professionals and their families. It's not just a "home", it's a community which includes assisted living residences, health care facilities, an in-house television station and so much more. Each night will showcase how every dollar given to the MPTF helps support the wide variety of programs and services it provides throughout the entertainment community.

On Wednesday, September 6 stating at 5:00pm (EST) Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, Jim Gianopulos will co-host with Ben as he introduces the silent film Little Annie Rooney. It stars the patron saint of the MPTF, Mary Pickford and demonstrates how all the many other talents involved with the film are long forgotten names. But true professionals like Pickford never forget who helped them get where they got, and strive to make retirement easier regardless of lake of fame or fortune. Afterwards, Bob Beitcher (President and CEO, of the MPTF) co-hosts an introduction to Showfolk, a short filmed in 2014 that features many residents from the MPTF's Woodland Hills home. The piece focuses on the professional lives of some aged performers who still vividly recall their glory days. Later, A Hole in the Head will be co-hosted by Connie Sawyer, a character actress featured in the Frank Sinatra "dramady". After that,Burt Bluestein, the Unit Production Manager/Assistant Director of the 1970 Barbara Streisand film, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever will co-hosted the introduction to that classic.

The following Wednesday, September 13, the line up includes Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story co-hosted by film researcher Lillian Michelson, Cinderella Liberty co-hosted by Producer/Director Mark Rydell, and My Fair Lady co-hosted by Judy Woodbury, an Actress and Extra. And for the next two weeks after that, the films are In the Heat of the Night, Roustabout, The Stone Killer, A Star is Born, Heidi, Sealed Cargo, McQ, and Dr. Zhivago all with co-hosts who worked on the films in someway or another either on screen or behind the scenes.

The September TCM Spotlight programming certainly looks to be entertaining and informative. Either way it certainly is television worth setting your DVR by. I wouldn't miss a one if I were you.

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