To health, and Saban Center


Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation, flashed a broad smile Wednesday in recalling when "Woodland Hills was just that — wood, land and hills."

Then the casually inclined DreamWorks Animation chief, who wore a suit and tie for the special occasion, turned a bit more serious in introducing entertainment producer Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl Saban, the benefactors behind the new $20 million Saban Center for Health and Wellness.

"There is a very approachable and human spirit about them," Katzenberg said during the dedication ceremony. He thanked the "amazingly humble" Sabans for their generosity.

The new Saban Center is part of a major new outreach initiative by the MPTF.

For decades, the fund has operated a renowned retirement community on 44 acres known as the Wasserman Campus in now-quite-suburban Woodland Hills. Today, the MPTF is additionally focusing on what it calls "healthy aging," offering a range of home-based health and living services for Hollywood retirees throughout the region.

Jodie Foster, whose sizable grant funded the Saban Center's large pool and other facilities for aquatic-based therapy and recreation, noted that her mother has lived near the campus for years.

She expressed hope that the new center would make possible "healthy and independent lives" for those it serves.

Others attending the ceremony included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, MPTF corporate board chairman Frank Mancuso and MPTF chief executive David Tillman.

The MPTF and its assistance programs date back more than 85 years, when Mary Pickford and early Hollywood luminaries sought to assist the entertainment industry's less affluent.

Today, the retirement home operates on an ability-to-pay basis and represents "an entire industry taking care of its own," Tillman said.

The Saban Center mission reflects "respect for the past and an eye to the future," Katzenberg said.