HFPA Donates $1.5 Million to Charities

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Leonardo DiCaprio

DiCaprio, Wahlberg, Chastain come out for festive annual luncheon.

BEVERLY HILLS — Leonardo DiCaprio, Gerald Butler, Kevin Bacon, Jessica Chastain and Japanese pop star Yoshiki were among the celebrities who turned out for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual officer installation luncheon Thursday, where they accepted checks for $1.5 million in donations on behalf of charities and nonprofit groups involved in movies, film preservation, higher education, youth at risk and more.

That brought to about $13.5 million the group behind the Golden Globe Awards has given out during the past 17 years, noted Aida Takla-O’Reilly, recently elected to another term as the group’s president.

DiCaprio, soon to star in November release J. Edgar, playing the late FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover for director Clint Eastwood, received a check for $350,000 on behalf of the Film Foundation. He said he was there to accept “for Steven, Marty and Clint,” a reference to Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Eastwood, all of whom are active in efforts to preserve movies on celluloid, which deteriorates over time.

DiCaprio, who ranks No. 1 on Forbes’ annual list of the highest-earning celebrities with a take last year of $77 million, said the donations to the Film Foundation by the HFPA have helped preserve 80 movies over the past 15 years. He said among the movies that will be saved by the group that “protects cinematic history” are The Tales of Hoffman (1951), Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970) and Death of a Salesman (1951).

In the most amusing exchange of the mostly scripted event, DiCaprio then introduced Mark Wahlberg, who as he took the stage appeared to try to grab the check out of DiCaprio’s hand, saying, “You’ve got enough of that already.” Then, as he watched DiCaprio walk away, Wahlberg added: “On second thought, you might need to hold on to that.”

Glancing toward the front of the Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom where he had been sitting, Wahlberg said to DiCaprio: “I’m sitting at a table with a gentleman who’s better looking than you and in better shape than me — It’s Taylor Lautner.”

Wahlberg added with a rise of his eyebrow: “You know my friend, it’s been a long time since Titanic and Boogie Nights! But that’s all right with me. Out with the old and in with the new.”

Kevin Bacon, accepting grants to several California college and university film schools, made reference to recent budget cuts: “California schools need the help.”

Actor Hugh Dancy accepted a grant for FilmAid International, which brings film as an educational tool to refugee camps in Kenya and elsewhere.

Others on hand to accept grants included actors Chastain, soon to be seen in The Help; Gabriel Macht (Love and Other Drugs), Lea Michele (Glee); Elisabeth Moss; (Mad Men), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene); and Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Saddam).

Among those receiving 2011 grants from the HFPA were the American Cinematheque; the American Film Institute; California State University Los Angeles; Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment; Film Independent; Ghetto Film School; Loyola Marymount University; Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles; New York University Tisch School of the Arts; Outfest; the Sundance Institute; Pacific Film Archive; and the University of North Carolina.

The HFPA officers officially installed Thursday, along with Takla-O’Reilly, were Jorge Camara as vp, Serge Rakhlin as executive secretary and Ali Sar as treasurer. Philip Berk, who was president, is now chairman of the board. Board members include Yoram Kahana, Yukiko Nakajima, Ruben Nepales, Meher Tatna and alternate Theo Kingma.

Takla-O’Reilly made only a brief, oblique reference to the HFPA’s challenges during the past year — which include lawsuits with Golden Globes producer Dick Clark Productions and former publicist Michael Russell — when she said they have had reason to rethink the entire organization and as a result have expanded their annual charitable efforts. She said grants totaling $250,000 also were given to those impacted by the earthquakes in Chili and Haiti and the tsunami in Japan.