Turner, Lucas sign Buffett-Gates giving pledge

Icahn tells THR he'd agree to donate half his wealth if called

Entertainment moguls should be expecting a call shortly from Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

The pair went public this week with their initiative called the Giving Pledge to urge the world's billionaires to promise to give half of their wealth to charity.

Of the 40 already on board, only a handful come from the ranks of media and entertainment, including Ted Turner, George Lucas, Barry Diller, Michael Bloomberg and Ron Perelman.

But Gates and Buffett, respectively the second- and third-richest men in the world -- No. 1 is Mexico telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim Helu, according to Forbes -- have contacted only about 80 of the planet's 937 billionaires so far.

Carl Icahn, for example, worth $10.5 billion, has no record of Gates or Buffett contacting him about their Giving Pledge, but he called the idea "excellent."

"If I got a call, I'd send it in," he told THR. "I made a commitment 20 years ago that virtually all my assets would be used to fund a charitable foundation. I never really thought of going public with it."

Like most of the super-rich, Icahn has a favorite cause -- education -- and he said he has given millions of dollars to fund scholarships, charter schools and other initiatives.

"You take these kids from charter schools, and they can read and write as well as a kid from a prep school," he said. "Down the street at the public school, they have no reading ability because the whole system is terrible."

Like many other billionaires, Icahn said he has no desire to leave such a vast fortune to his children.

"I don't believe in large inheritances," he said. "Maybe my kids will be mad when they read this, but giving kids huge amounts of money when they're young is not only bad for society but bad for the kids. My kids work very hard, and I'm proud of them, but I've seen other kids get all this money, and it ruins them."

The Giving Pledge has been getting a lot of attention since going public this week, not all of it positive. Wall Street Journal blogger Evan Newmark, for example, likened it to a "nearly cartoonish PR exercise."

Those who sign are asked to write a letter explaining their decision, which Buffett and Gates post online at GivingPledge.org.

Turner quotes from a conversation he once had with Jacques Cousteau and calls the $1.3 billion he already has donated to charities "one of my proudest accomplishments."

Lucas likens filmmakers to philosophers and teachers and promises that a majority of his wealth will go to improving education. "It is the key to the survival of the human race," he writes.
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