The Entertainment Industry's Biggest Givers
From stem cell research to a $130 million New York park, here's where the industry wrote its checks.
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Former Univision CEO Jerry Perenchio made entertainment's largest charitable donation in the past year — his planned art bequest to LACMA is worth $500 million — as other moguls and stars laid out major cash.
Here are the top contributors of the year:
$113M — Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenburg
Hudson River Park. The largest donation to a public park in New York City's history will fund a promenade and performance venue "island" over the Hudson River, a $130 million project with Scott Rudin, Stephen Daldry and other industry figures involved in the planning. But critics protest the secrecy of the project's development and the environmental impact of building a large platform over the river, with activists and the City Club of New York suing in June to stop the project until it gets an environmental review and approval from the state legislature.
$100M — David Geffen
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. It reportedly took $15 million for the family of Avery Fisher to permit the removal of his name from the hall where the New York Philharmonic performs. Now Geffen, whose charitable donations in Los Angeles have secured him naming rights to such institutions as the Geffen Playhouse and UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, will have his name on an institution in his home city. (Barbara Walters, listed below, set the project in motion when she introduced Geffen to Lincoln Center chairwoman Katherine Farley, reported The New York Times.)
$75M — Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan
San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. The Facebook founder, who in 2013 donated nearly $1 billion to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and his wife gave to the hospital where she received some of her medical training. It will be renamed in their honor.
$42.5M — John Malone
Colorado State University. The Liberty Media chairman and his wife's gift will fund a stem cell research institute.
$25M — Barbara Walters
The journalist donated $15 million to her alma mater Sarah Lawrence College, which will construct the Barbara Walters Campus Center, and $10 million to the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, where she had open heart surgery in 2010, to establish the Barbara Walters Acute Care Treatment Center within the adult emergency department.
$20M — Len Blavatnik
Tel Aviv University. The richest man in Britain — with an estimated $20 billion net worth, according to the Sunday Times — Blavatnik, who owns Warner Music Group, will fund the Blavatnik Initiative for scientific research and film production. It's one of two big entertainment industry donations in the past year to Tel Aviv University (see Steve Tisch) and one of several to universities in Israel (see Ike Perlmutter).
$10M — Steve Tisch
Tel Aviv University. The film producer and New York Giants owner's gift will help the school develop its film department into the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television.
$9M — Ike Perlmutter
New York University Langone Medical Center and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Notoriously tight-fisted in running Marvel Entertainment (he pushed to serve only potato chips at the Iron Man premiere), Perlmutter is the opposite when it comes to philanthropy. Following a $50 million gift to the hospital in 2014, this new donation from him and his wife, Laura, will support two joint cancer-research programs with the Technion-Israel Institute in Haifa, Israel. They'd given $8 million to NYU before 2014, too.
$5M — Mark Cuban
Indiana University. The entrepreneur and Shark Tank host graduated in 1981 from the university, where his gift will sponsor a video, broadcasting and technology center in his name.
$3.3M — James Kennedy, Cox Enterprises chairman
Clemson University. The media mogul (and avid duck hunter) is funding a waterfowl and wetlands conservation center named in his honor.
$3M — Charles Barkley
The retired NBA player gave three separate $1 million gifts to Morehouse College, his alma mater Auburn University, and the Wounded Warrior Project.
$2.3M — Kirk and Anne Douglas
Children's Hospital Los Angeles. The latest gift from the couple, longtime supporters of CHLA, went to the purchase of a surgical robot for the hospital’s division of pediatric urology and training for physicians in the robot's use. "We asked the hospital if they had a wish list, and they had a wish list of three incredible machines. We picked the most complicated and the most expensive one," Anne told The Hollywood Reporter in a March interview. "This is the first time we've given a machine that we don't know what it does, but the doctors are pleased with it. We're giving something that is very useful, and that feels good," added her husband.
Read more from THR's philanthropy issue below.