Sources associated with the Motion Picture and Television Fund have confirmed to me that president/CEO Dr. David Tillman was pushed to exit because of the public relations nightmare over the closing of the acute care hospital and long-term elderly care facilities. “He left because of the process and how it was handled. Life is about execution. So if you can’t execute something well, it doesn’t matter how good the plan is. He resigned because that was the appropriate way to handle it,” an MPTF insider explained to me late last night. Nor, I’m told, was the $600,000-a-year Tillman — at one point named by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann “World’s Worse” person because of the closures — surprised to hear that board members were dissatisfied.
I also learned that Jeffrey Katzenberg, who’s been on the receiving end of the criticism for the closures, was not directly involved in Tillman’s removal because the DreamWorks Animation CEO doesn’t sit on that board subcommittee which made the decision. But “it’s safe to assume that nothing there is going to happen unless Jeffrey is OK with it,” the MPTF assured me.
Tillman’s exit came yesterday just a few weeks before Katzenberg hosts his major MPTF fundraiser, “The Night Before” party held annually on the eve of the Oscar broadcast. Last year’s limousines arriving for the Saturday fete were greeted outside the Beverly Hills Hotel venue by 250 caregivers, entertainment industry figures, and family members of the facility’s elderly residents protesting the MPTF-ordered closures.
It’s widely felt that exiting Tillman is a first step in the board trying to bring the Hollywood community, and especially members who’ve been most vocal on this issue, back together in its decades-old support of the MPTF. “I hope they see improved operations from our end of the table,” the MPTF insider told me.
But reconciliation can only occur when the bigshots behind the MPTF remember that it’s been kept going by generations of movie and television workers for some 90 years. And that more effort must be made to reach out to the Hollywood community ahead of time whenever big decisions like the closures are about to made or even considered. In turn, the Hollywood community must figure out a way to better support the MPTF through payroll deductions, union-organized tithing, something. Or else the fatcats who give the big donations will always have the final say in what happens there.