Actors Fund lends hand

Group taking services off-site to help others for first time

When the price of gas skyrocketed, the Actors Fund of America became concerned that some in the entertainment industry couldn't afford to get to work -- so it began taking its services on the road.

"It is the first time we have taken our services off-site to reach people who are so strapped they really won't spend money on gas to come over the hill," said Keith McNutt, director of the Western region for the 127-year-old Fund, which has headquarters in New York and last year provided services in 46 states.

Although it is called the Actors Fund, the charity is open to anyone in show business, in front of or behind the camera, or even in the executive suite. All programs are provided at no cost.

The Hollywood office on Wilshire Boulevard offers daily and weekly programs on things like resume writing, developing job skills and improving interview techniques. Every Friday, job candidates are videotaped and a panel critiques their performance. There are also two days a month when free medical care is provided at the Venice Clinic for uninsured, low-income people in the business. Fund activities also include the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic in New York and a nursing home in New Jersey.

The next off-site program will be held Nov. 18 at the office of IATSE Local 80 (grips) in Burbank, beginning with a breakfast session with Deirdre Dix Hunt, a producer-director who is expert in helping individuals better market themselves.

There will be an afternoon panel on careers in public relations and individual counseling for those who need emergency financial assistance.

McNutt says the Burbank program occurs every other month, and the fund is seeking partners and a place to expand it to every month. "We're trying to help people keep their heads above water during these trying economic times," McNutt said.

More info is available at or at (323) 933-9244, Ext. 54, or (212) 221-7300.