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Several boldfaced names contributed both words of support and financial support to essential workers and now-unemployed crewmembers during the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s live-streamed fundraiser on Friday night.
George Clooney, Jodie Foster, Allison Janney, Leslie Odom Jr., Kris Jenner, Wanda Sykes, Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas and many other famous faces paid tribute to entertainment workers who help bring titles they’ve been involved in to life and who are out of work amid the coronavirus pandemic, as well as those currently working at the MPTF’s Woodland Hills campus, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. Six residents have died so far as a result of complications from COVID-19, while five have recovered and six are recovering, co-hosts Yvette Nicole Brown and Tom Bergeron noted during the event.
Several famous participants reminded viewers during the “We All Play Our Part” benefit that entertainment titles exist primarily because of behind-the-scenes gig workers — not themselves — who are particularly suffering as the coronavirus has virtually shut down all production. (The MPTF offers financial relief and support services to entertainment workers of all kind who demonstrate need.) At the top of the show, Brown said that below-the-line workers, “though not household names[,] are an integral part of our showbiz family. … Sometimes they depend on MPTF. Right now is one of those times.”
MPTF CEO Bob Bob Beitcher, Hugh Jackman and Taye Diggs also offered words of support and admiration for crewmembers. “Despite the financial difficulty, they are finding ways to show up and do what they can to be of service,” Diggs said, who gave shout-outs to crewmembers delivering groceries and writers calling the elderly during the pandemic. “Thank you very much for all that you’re doing. It does not go unnoticed.”
Added Jay Ellis later, “I wouldn’t be able to do my job without you guys, I don’t know props; … makeup, I need a lot of it sometimes; wardrobe, I need you to make me look good. Thank you for all that you do and today we all play our part,” said the actor.
Many, including Mira Sorvino, Ron Cephas Jones, Norman Lear and Michael Douglas, also thanked essential workers, several of whom are battling the virus on the MPTF’s campus. “To all those on the front lines, or those benefiting from the Motion Picture Fund, I send you my love and my contribution,” Douglas said. “We’re going to get through this.”
Some took a stab at comedy during their appearances: Clooney and Beitcher noted they weren’t wearing pants during their video-streaming stints, while Janney recited something she “wrote” (which ended up being the “All the world’s a stage” monologue from Shakespeare’s As You Like It). “I want to thank my friend Billy Shakespeare for punching that up a bit,” she joked. Former Everybody Loves Raymond co-stars Ray Romano and Brad Garrett performed an extended bit wherein Garrett pretended Romano was in the MPTF residential home. “Do you know what I noticed in quarantine? The gross factor in not showering after four days flattens after five days … after you hit four, you’re good,” Romano joked at one point.
During a more sober moment of the show, Brown and Bergeron introduced a video tribute to former MPTF residents who died as a result of complications from COVID-19, including Leah Bernstein, John Breier, Allen Daviau, Allen Garfield, Joel Rogosin and Ann Sullivan. In between appearances, musicians including Skyler Day, Richard Marx, Fred Paisley, Rachel Platten and Susanna Hoffs performed songs; one highlight saw Odom’s young daughter singing a song alongside him.
During his video tribute, Bridges noted some “positive sides to this hunkering down.” He said, “I find I’ve got a bit time to meditate, contemplate how to make this world a better place once this virus runs its course. What kind of world do we want our kids to live in? Our grandkids to live in? That’s something to contemplate.”
Watch the full benefit, below.
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