A Letter From Jeffrey Katzenberg
DWA's chief urges THR’s Next Gen to give back.
Congratulations to each of you being honored as the Next Gen of 2012. You have been singled out early in your careers for your remarkable achievements and as a result have the ability to demonstrate your own commitment to the entertainment community and influence others as well.
Today I extend to each one of you an opportunity that I was given by Lew Wasserman 20 years ago when he "invited" me to get involved in the leadership of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. And I hope you will find it as difficult to say no to this opportunity as I did to Lew because he was right: The personal satisfaction is far greater than the contributions you will ever make to it.
Supporting MPTF is the perfect opportunity for us to give back to the industry and the community in which we are enjoying our success. This point was indelibly made on me by one of my heroes, Kirk Douglas, when he said, "Those in our business who make it big must help those who are struggling and need our help." Kirk also gave me advice that I share with you today when he said, "You haven't learned how to live until you learn how to give."
Over the years, I have come to understand what Kirk meant. We are all called upon to support many worthy causes and charities -- our religious institutions, our schools, environmental causes or the many diseases still without a cure. All of these are worthy of our help, but learning how to give means more than writing a check. It also means finding those charities where you can invest your time and energy.
I encourage you to make MPTF a charity where you will invest both. "Caring for our own" has been the mission of this organization for 92 years, and each successive generation of Hollywood has made it possible for MPTF to carry on its good work for our industry members. Last year, more than 35,000 volunteer hours from caring supporters in the entertainment community went into helping MPTF accomplish its day-to-day goals.
Starting with Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks in 1921, each generation has evolved MPTF to meet the needs of their times, and so it has grown from a "relief" charity that made cash grants in the 1920s and '30s to a $100 million health and social services organization that in 2012 will care for more than 70,000 industry workers. And those helped will come from every aspect of film and television production -- guilds, unions, networks, studios, production and postproduction, agents, attorneys … Well, you get the picture. It's all about our community!
A good place to start is to visit the campus in Woodland Hills and see for yourself what MPTF is doing. It will help you better understand that you are a part of something much larger than just your career. You are a part of a long tradition of taking care of each other and at the center of that.
It's your turn and your time!
Jeffrey Katzenberg is CEO of DreamWorks Animation, chairman of the MPTF Foundation and an MPTF board member.