Stars Honor Kevin Spacey, Stories of Older Hollywood at MPTF Fundraiser
The event, which shared stories of those helped by MPTF services, honored Kevin Spacey and featured stories performed by John Stamos and Tobey Macguire amongst others.
It was a mix of young and old at the fourth annual Reel Stories, Real Lives fundraiser benefiting the Motion Picture & Television Fund on Saturday as young industry professionals and stars alike gathered at the swanky Milk Studios in Hollywood to fete MPTF and some of Hollywood’s oldest veterans’ stories. Among the stars in attendance were John Stamos, Tony Goldwyn, Lizzy Caplan, Mira Sorvino, Yvette Nicole Brown, Tobey Maguire and the night’s honoree, Kevin Spacey.
“When I did [my first event, ‘Celebrating Our Future, Remembering Our Past’] 15 years ago, the reason I did it was because I was pretty stunned and shocked and upset that many, many young people in our industry had never heard about the Fund, never visited the home, had never been to the campus,” said Spacey, who credits his mother for getting him involved with MPTF at the age of 13. “I wanted to do an event that woke people up, that brought the generations together. … Tonight, for me, is about continuing to get the word out and make people understand that someday, we’re all going to get old.”
He added that “we don’t treat the old very well in this country, and this is one example of how we can do better.”
Caplan also spoke to the importance of MPTF, which provides financial, social and health care services to entertainment industry members in need and residential services for senior industry veterans.
“The idea of taking care of our own is nothing to be taken lightly,” said the Masters of Sex actress, who presented the story of MPTF resident, and lifesaver, Mary Soukup, “This is very much a community and, at times, it can be a contentious community and it can be a competitive community, but, by the end of the day, this community will take care of me if I need it."
The night kicked off with an introduction from Stamos, who joked that he and Spacey should combine Netlix shows into Full House of Cards — and that when his longtime friend first asked him to visit the Country House, the MPTF's senior residential community in Woodland Hills, he thought it was a Saturday Night Live Stefon-type club.
Alessandro Nivola and Mira Sorvino lauded the work and life of Lillian Michelson, who ran the largest movie research library in Hollywood, as well as her late husband, prolific storyboard artist Harold Michelson. Maguire shared the story of musician and entertainer Joe Siracusa, and, in one of the night’s most memorable moments, Dancing With the Stars’ Kym Johnson was joined onstage by 93-year-old Siracusa himself, and the two boogied away as Siracusa showed that once an entertainer, always an entertainer.
“The Motion Picture & Television Fund has been a part of my family from the very beginning and [was] everything to my grandfather [Samuel Goldwyn Sr.] and my father [Samuel Goldwyn Jr.],” Scandal’s Goldwyn told THR about the importance of MPTF to his family. Introducing a short film about the fund's child care center named for his late father, the actor, who was accompanied his daughter (an aspiring television writer and a member of the fourth Goldwyn generation in showbiz), also shared that the last event his father had attended, despite being gravely ill, was for the organization.
Yvette Nicole Brown, who was charged with announcing the winners of the night's prizes from sponsors Delta and Cadillac, spoke to her personal experience with volunteering at MPTF and getting advice from the “fearless” 102 year-old comedienne Connie Sawyer: “Connie Sawyer, who is like my heartbeat, basically just told me to be myself. When she was coming up they didn’t expect women to be funny and we have to prove to them that we are so just go out there and let them have it.”
While the proceedings hit a bit of a snag when poor cell service made it impossible for the winners of the night's grand prize — two round-trip Delta tickets to London — to receive their winning texts, Brown was unfazed, moving through with humor and her best Oprah impression, before MPTF Foundation CEO Ken Scherer jaunted on stage to announce a winning phone number.
The Odd Couple actress and Funny or Die’s Brian Toombs also helped bring focus to MPTF’s new Next Gen program, which aims to get young Holllywood professionals — the industry's future leaders — directly involved with the organization.
After a few words about the history of the organization from Scherer, Stamos returned to stage for a special tribute to Spacey, penned by House of Cards creator Beau Willimon. Willimon, as well as Bill Dubuque, Jason Fuchs, John Hoffman wrote the tributes for the event.
Thanking Stamos and jokingly asking him to fix a drink backstage, Spacey ascended on stage to give a final few remarks of his own, speaking to his time volunteering and visiting with some of the greats, including the late filmmaker Stanley Kramer. After talking about the importance of the organization for all of those in the industry, old and young, he closed out his impassioned speech on a lighter note.
Evoking Frank Underwood’s trademark southern drawl, he concluded, “What I’m really doing here is reserving a room with a balcony and a view.”