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Nearly a week after the presidential election, television’s most prominent executives gathered in support of universal healthcare.
More than 700 industry insiders — including Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Fox’s Peter Rice and Showtime’s David Nevins — turned out Monday night for the 40th anniversary of the Saban Community Clinic’s gala at the Beverly Hilton. “It’s cool because this event has kind of evolved to be the center of the TV business. It’s great for the industry to come together and help some of our own,” Sarandos told The Hollywood Reporter.
The annual dinner, which is put on by the free clinic in Los Angeles that serves low-income and uninsured patients, honored FX’s John Landgraf and Showtime’s Trisha Cardoso for their philanthropic leadership this year. Hosted by Archer‘s Aisha Tyler, the event drew a mix of stars (John Stamos, Danny DeVito, Ewan McGregor) and execs, including Turner’s Kevin Reilly, Warner Bros.’ Peter Roth and Lionsgate’s Sandra Stern, along with writer-producers Chuck Lorre, Steve Levitan and Carlton Cuse.
The highlight of the evening was when Tyler went off-script midway through the dinner to talk candidly about the country’s current political state. “Let’s just talk about what’s going on right now, shall we? What the f—? This is who I’m sure we thought would be our president-elect,” said the comedienne, referring to a 1997 clip of Hillary Clinton that had just played for the audience.
Amid the crowd’s visible frustration, Tyler continued, “I don’t care who you voted for. It doesn’t matter because we’re here now. So what do we do? What do we do with our feelings, our rage, our depression?” Acknowledging that some guests may, in fact, be thrilled with the election results, she joked of the overwhelming minority, “I will find you in the parking lot and we’ll wrestle. We’ll work it out.”
Tyler then called on the crowd to take action. “We can’t curl up in a ball as I did on Tuesday night and drink and weep softly into my 800-thread-count sheets while servants scurried about making me another martini. That’s acceptable through maybe January 2017,” she deadpanned to big laughs from the crowd, before hitting a more serious note.
“But really, you have to do something. Healthcare is at risk and this is not a concept anymore — this is a reality. We have a president who said he’s going to dismantle Obamacare, which really didn’t cover that many people anyway. But it was more people than were f—ing covered before it was in place,” Tyler said to more cheers from the audience, which managed to raise over $225,000 for the clinic during the course of the evening.
The evening briefly turned to election talk again when Baskets star and recent Emmy winner Louie Anderson took the stage for a quick standup set. “Does anyone know who won the election? I have really slow internet,” he started out, later joking that even Anthony Weiner is “bummed out” by what Trump has said about women. When the crowd began to groan, he responded by chuckling, “Too much? Too soon?”
In typical fashion, Landgraf used his time at the podium to articulate the importance of the Saban Clinic and raise awareness about the many Americans who don’t currently have access to healthcare — which in Los Angeles is around 3 million people, he noted. “I know all of us are worried tonight that the number of insured is going to begin climbing again under a new administration,” said the FX chief, who was introduced by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star DeVito.
“We can debate the economic challenges and the best mechanisms, political or economic, for providing healthcare for all Americans, and we’ll all wait with trepidation to see how the recent political changes will affect healthcare equity in our country,” he said, “but what at least I think should not be debated is the principle that all people deserve dignity and respect, and they also deserve access to healthcare as a basic human right.”
Added Landgraf: “We give our time and our resources in the hope that one day the dream of universal healthcare will become a reality. … And on that day, America will be truly great.”
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