Hollywood Gives the Gift of Film

Children learning projection in TanzaniaWhile the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) lost about $6 million in telecast license fee when its Golden Globe Awards show on NBC was canceled due to the writers strike, the press group did not want the charities and non-profit organizations that it supports to be empty-handed this year. So despite HFPA's loss of the revenue from which it gets its funds to donate to worthy causes, the group that votes on and presents the Golden Globe Awards every January went ahead and held its annual grants and installation luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. In a statement, HFPA president Jorge Camara said, Despite last January's cancellation of the Annual Golden Globe Awards due to the Writers Guild strike that curtailed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's income, we're delighted to honor our ongoing commitment to support entertainment industry-related film school and non-profit organizations. Over the past several years, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Foundation has presented more than $7.5 million in financial grants to dozens of film schools and non-profit organizations. Heeding the old adage of giving till it hurts, the HFPA dipped from its savings and gave $759,865 in financial grants to various causes in the event that also honored the organization's 2008-2009 slate of officers.

Celebrity Supporters

Helping announce grants were Aaron Eckhart and Jon Hamm, two actors who are starring in the hottest movie and TV show these days The Dark Knight and Mad Men, respectively. Among those who accepted the checks on behalf of the grants were Chris Ludacris Bridges (Film Independent, Inc.), Rosario Dawson (Independent Feature Project), Dana Delany (University of California, Los Angeles), Dakota Fanning (California State Summer School Arts Foundation), Chris Messina (Sundance Institute), Elizabeth PeГ±a (National Association of Latino Independent Producers), and Rosie Perez (Inner-City Arts). The beneficiaries ranged from top film schools in the US to FilmAid International; from The Ghetto Film School, Inc. to Streetlight Production Assistant Program, Inc., which provides job training and placement to underrepresented populations in LA. While the bulk of its donations are handed out at the annual luncheon, HFPA responds year-round to help in disaster relief campaigns and non-film related charities like Doctors Without Borders and Action Against Hunger. Daily Variety paid tribute to HFPA's philanthropic efforts by naming it as the publication's Benefactor of the Year. Associate publisher Brian Gott gave HFPA head Camara a check of $20,000 to supplement the group's endowment fund. Variety, in an article written by David Mermelstein, said, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association knows well philanthropy's great dichotomythat if you publicize your efforts, you're vilified for grandstanding, while if you keep quiet about your good deeds, they may go unnoticed. The org is best known for the annual Golden Globe Awards, yet the HFPA also is a generous benefactor to many charities associated with film education.

Lifesaving Scholarships

Mermelstein quoted Steve Anker, dean of the renowned CalArts' School of Film/Video (where most of Pixar's talents come from), one of HFPA's beneficiaries, as saying, These scholarships are lifesaversliterally. They have made it possible for students from around the world to come to CalArts. I only wish more corporations and foundations followed their lead. Being a Hollywood event, the luncheon wasn't all seriousness and gravity. Rosie Perez, who wore a white tight-fitting dress by Tadashi, joked onstage as Ludacris stood behind her, I am so nervous because I know he is looking at my butt. The rapper-actor took the cue to look on appreciatively. But as Rosie somehow managed to walk down the stage in that skin-tight number, he said, I am sorry but I was not looking at your butt. I apologize. Jon Hamm, who won a Golden Globe last January for his terrific work in Mad Men, quipped that his HFPA-related events usually attract calamities. He deadpanned, First, it was the writers' strike that canceled the Golden Globes. And now, it's the earthquake. I just want to apologize ahead of time for the inevitable hotel fire that is bound to occur after the event. Aaron Eckhart, who is Harvey Dent in the commercial and critical hit The Dark Knight, received a lot of congratulations from the attendees for the film's success. When we asked Aaron why the film resonated so well with moviegoers all over the world, he cited the late Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker and the story's multifaceted ramifications. Among those in the audience were Fil-Ams Jasmin Chavez and Katrina Wan, two of Hollywood's top publicists. The columnist is an active voting member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. E-mail the columnist at rvnepales_5585@yahoo.com and read his blog, The Nepales Report, on http://blogs.inquirer.net/nepalesreport.

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