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Archive for March, 2011

Why I Revlon Run/Walk: Robert Score

March 30, 2011 Comments off

Robert ScoreThe second clip in our video series leading up to the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women (April 30 in New York and May 7 in Los Angeles) features Actors Fund team member Robert Score, Recording-Corresponding Secretary for IATSE Local One. A long-time stagehand and member of Local One since 1989, he also serves on the Board of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, as well as The Actors Fund’s National Advisory Board. Bobby and his family have been part of The Fund’s Revlon Run/Walk team for the last five years, as he and his wife, actress Haviland Morris, want to show their children how important it is to volunteer for a cause—especially The Actors Fund, because of all of the important work it does throughout the entertainment community.

Become part of The Actors Fund team for the 14th Annual Revlon Run/Walk (click here for New York and here for Los Angeles), for which we’re walking in memory of our beloved friend Lynn Redgrave, as well as all the women in our lives that have faced cancer. Your participation directly impacts EIF funding for The Actors Fund Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative (PNWHI), which serves women in the entertainment community confronting cancer and other serious heath diagnoses. Questions about The Actors Fund Team? Please contact Amy Picar at 212.221.7300 ext. 134 or apicar@actorsfund.org.

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Why I Revlon Run/Walk: Louie Anchondo

March 24, 2011 Comments off

Now that spring has arrived, it’s time once again to gear up for the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Revlon Run/Walk for WomenApril 30, 2011 in New York and May 7, 2011, in Los Angeles. This year The Actors Fund is walking in memory of  Lynn Redgrave, our beloved friend, colleague, Actors Fund advocate and longtime Revlon Run/Walk Team Captain.

In the weeks leading up to the event, we’ll be sharing some “Why I Revlon Run/Walk” videos, highlighting a few members of The Fund’s team.

Our first clip features Louie Anchondo, National Director of Special Events for The Actors Fund. Louie’s been a part of the entertainment industry since graduating from UCLA, and has worked for New Line Cinema (including Fine Line Features), The Public Theater, Serino Coyne and The Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI), home of The Harvey Milk High School. He has also served as Board President for NewFest, New York City’s only LGBT film festival.

Louie has participated in the Revlon Run/Walk since 2005, and while he participates to help many, he walks especially for his grandmother, Alice Shank, a cancer survivor.

Become part of The Actors Fund team for the 14th Annual Revlon Run/Walk (click here for New York, here for Los Angeles), where we walk in memory of Lynn and in support of all the brave women in our lives that have been affected by cancer. Your participation raises cancer awareness and directly impacts EIF funding for The Actors Fund Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative (PNWHI), which serves women in the entertainment community who are confronting cancer and other serious heath diagnoses. PNWHI guides patients through medical and support options, basic life issues (like returning to work, disability), helps them build coping skills through individual and group counseling, and serves as a portal to The Fund’s other social services.

Questions about The Actors Fund Team? Please contact Amy Picar at 212.221.7300 ext. 134 or apicar@actorsfund.org.

–Karissa Krenz

Five Questions For… Fred Savage

March 17, 2011 Comments off

Fred SavageThe Actors Fund’s Looking Ahead program helps young professionals ages 9–18 deal with the challenges of working in the entertainment industry. Looking Ahead’s variety of activities and services guide young people through assorted issues like home/work/school balance, developing positive friendships, transitioning to college and more. On April 9, 2011, Nickelodeon’s animation studio in Burbank will host Looking Ahead’s Pic @ Nick! spring picnic. One of the day’s highlights—during which hundreds of young professional performers will mingle and participate in carnival activities—will be a panel moderated by Looking Ahead Advisory Committee Chair Fred Savage, an inspiring member of the entertainment community who made the successful transition from young actor (and star of the long-running hit The Wonder Years) to thriving television director. In advance of Pic @ Nick, Fred took some time to answer a few of our questions.

Actors Fund: Why is a program like Looking Ahead so important for young performers in the “business”?
Fred Savage: Looking Ahead is incredibly important because it nurtures two of the most important aspects of every child’s life—social interaction and planning for the future. Young performers are often removed from the social life that they knew before they started working so finding new friends, particularly those with similar interests and an equally unusual career, is critical to sustaining the fun and joy of being young. Additionally, the career of a young performer is, by definition, a short one, and Looking Ahead provides wonderful resources in planning what comes next, whether it’s a career in entertainment or another field entirely.

I understand you’ll be moderating a panel on April 9 for Pic at Nick! Who will be there to join you?
Yes, I’ll be on hand and we’re working on getting some terrific guests who were professionals at a young age and transitioned into successful careers as adults.

What was the greatest challenge/reward you found from being a young performer?
Being a young performer changed my life entirely. It brought me out to LA from Chicago, it introduced me to a business that I have worked in for almost 30 years, and it allowed me to meet people and go places that I would have never thought possible. I love the life that I have, and being a young performer gave all of that to me. It opened every door. The greatest challenge was figuring out what to do next, when I was no longer a “young performer.” There was a lot of soul searching involved in that.

Tell us about some of the projects you’re working on these days.
I work primarily as a television director, so right now I’m prepping an episode of Modern Family to direct. After that, it’s off to a new show for Fox called Breaking In, and then a pilot for NBC. Like acting, it’s a bit nomadic bouncing from show to show, but at least it’s never boring!

So you have two kids and counting. What would you say if they decided to go into the biz?
I was very fortunate in that I had nothing but positive experiences in show business, and while I would never push my children to perform, if it was something that they felt passionately about, I would absolutely support it.

Are you a young performer and interested in joining Looking Ahead? Contact Education Counselor Laura Campbell at 323.933.9244 or lcampbell@actorsfund.org.

Categories: Uncategorized

Actors Fund Fans: Rock Hudson & Dale Olson

March 10, 2011 1 comment

Not long ago, a short clip featuring Rock Hudson speaking in support of The Actors Fund surfaced on YouTube. Curious to learn more, we contacted Rock’s longtime publicist and friend — and Actors Fund Trustee — Dale Olson, who enlightened us:

In early 1984, The Sands Hotel in Atlantic City — interested in doing a benefit for The Fund — contacted our New York office. Searching for a star to make a special appearance, The Fund called Olson, who in turn phoned Hudson, who jumped at the chance to do his part. The Sands provided a helicopter to and from New York, where Hudson had an apartment.

“Rock thought it was a hoot because he had never been to Atlantic City, and we walked the Boardwalk and he signed autographs—he just had a wonderful time.”

Susan Saint James, Morgan Fairchild and Susan Lucci also attended the March 31, 1984 event, which was hosted and underwritten by Mr. and Mrs. William Weidner (Mr. Weidner was the President of The Sands). Hudson accepted The Sands’ $40,000 donation and spoke about The Fund, particularly mentioning one point especially important to Olson: The Fund helps everyone in the entertainment industry, not just actors. Hudson was persuaded by the showgirls to dance, so Olson arranged a photo, which appeared in Time magazine — with a shout out to The Fund.

It wasn’t long after this Atlantic City event that Hudson found out he had AIDS — he was the first international celebrity to go public with the disease. After witnessing the solidly built actor’s rapid decline and death — Olson visited him every day throughout his illness — Olson decided to devote much of his time to AIDS awareness and fundraising.

“I learned about AIDS through Rock — the devastation of AIDS through Rock — which motivated me to be more active on a hands-on basis with AIDS.”

Just after Hudson’s death, Olson announced he was going to launch The Rock Hudson Foundation for AIDS Relief. But when Elizabeth Taylor — a great friend of Hudson’s — decided to start the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Olson called her up, and threw his support behind her, realizing Taylor could ultimately raise more money.

“So, from that time on, every time I’ve asked Elizabeth for anything, like a special autographed picture for one of our auctions, she has always come forth with something.”

Olson then decided to devote his time to finding a cure, and that’s when he became an Actors Fund Trustee, which has hands-on programs for people with AIDS, including The Actors Fund HIV/AIDS Initiative, and works to help people living with the disease in whatever way necessary. He has helped connect numerous people in need to The Fund’s social services, and has dedicated a great amount of time and numerous resources to the cause. For example, as a member of the West Coast Housing Committee for the Palm View Residence in West Los Angeles — which offers affordable housing for entertainment industry professionals living with HIV/AIDS — Olson announced its groundbreaking, placed numerous articles, and opened the building with a gala hosted by Bea Arthur and Rod Steiger.

Today, one of Olson’s top priorities is reminding the general public that, while advanced medications are — fortunately — helping those living with AIDS, it is still an enormous threat. Because much of the public now believes the disease is no longer a problem, AIDS donations have decreased over the last few years. So, Olson is especially pleased when organizations help him shine a light on the community’s continuing efforts, such as California’s Lake Arrowhead Film Festival did in 2010.

“I was so happy with the Lake Arrowhead Film Festival, which gave an award in both Rock’s and my name as heroes of AIDS Awareness, because that helps us to let people know it’s still there, and we have things to do.”

We are grateful to the many people in entertainment who have supported The Fund through the years, and continue to do so. Stay tuned as we’ll soon announce another starry night: our 2011 Annual Gala on May 23!

–Karissa Krenz

Building Communities: The Schermerhorn

March 3, 2011 Comments off

The SchermerhornLocated at the crossroads of Brooklyn, The Schermerhorn — a 21st century twist on affordable housing — is a joint project of The Actors Fund in conjunction with Common Ground (who oversees the building’s operations) and CUCS (Center for Urban Community Services, which takes care of the social services for the special needs tenants). And because the three agencies work together, all of the policies come from an amazing collaboration, and represent the best of what they can do.

At first glance, The Schermerhorn’s architecture — created by Ennead Architects — is unusual for affordable housing, sporting a steel and glass façade constructed in a style more commonly used in luxury buildings. In a New York Magazine review of The Nehmiah Spring Creek Homes in East New York and The Schermerhorn, architecture critic Justin Davidson praised the design’s departure from the accepted norm: “Both these versions of affordable housing reject the utopian visions that once fueled modernists’ social zeal and scarred our cities with towers for the poor. Instead, in their quiet, pragmatic way, they prove what the marriage of philanthropy and government can achieve and demonstrate that pinched budgets need not translate into poverty of imagination.”

Matthew Brookshire

Matthew Brookshire

The Schermerhorn’s mission is not only to provide affordable housing and social services for those in need, it’s also providing low-cost performance and rehearsal space for local artists. As part of his job as The Actors Fund’s Activities Manager at The Schermerhorn, Matthew Brookshire develops opportunities for the tenants to build a community within the building, and to integrate the building with the neighborhood surrounding it.

“We’re also bringing The Actors Fund to Brooklyn,” says Matthew, who has worked as a performer, director and stage manager. “We’re its ambassadors. Not only do we want to provide affordable housing to help artists succeed, we strive to be good neighbors, and to promote all the services of The Fund.”

Brooklyn Ballet's storefront

The Brooklyn Ballet's rehearsal space.

Having received funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs, creating affordable space for community arts groups was one of The Schermerhorn’s top priorities. From the project’s outset, the main, glass-walled street-level retail space was intended for a not-for-profit arts tenant. That turned out to be the Brooklyn Ballet, which is transforming the open space into its office, school and rehearsal studio. The glass wall has also enabled a sort of educational dialogue within the community, as passersby often stop to enjoy the beauty of dance.

“The interactive quality of the space has contributed to changing the overall feel of Schermerhorn Street,” says Matthew. “This light and transparency — it was done on purpose.”

The Schermerhorn's Performance SpaceAlso on street level is The Schermerhorn’s performance space, a clean, flexible black box that, depending on configuration, holds up to 200 people (though its primary set-up is better for a crowd of 100). Perfect for film screenings, dance, theatrical performances and special events, The Actors Fund is working to make the venue attractive and affordable to the Brooklyn performing arts community.

The feeling of community visible to everyone at street level continues upstairs to the building’s 216 studio apartments. Currently, there are 50 artist tenants — there will eventually be 100 — and 116 with special needs, the majority of which are formerly homeless, mentally ill or living with HIV-AIDS. The residential floors are an extension of the ground level’s forward-thinking design. Filled with angles, the hallways are anything but institutional. And while the small but bright and intelligently-appointed single-occupancy studios are admittedly not for everyone in the arts community, they are perfect for someone at a certain point in their career, whether it’s when they’re emerging, in transition, or retiring.

Yoga classIn addition to the building’s affordable rent, the artist tenants can use the ground floor theater for rehearsals and performances (“I love to see the tenants down here rehearsing, making the most of this amazing resource,” says Matthew) and utilize the building’s on-site social services. They can also take advantage of the building’s other amenities, which include health and wellness activities such as free yoga and acupuncture. There’s also a gym, computer lab, common room and spacious terrace, where a tenant “green thumb club” plans to tend an herb garden this spring.

All of the tenants are encouraged to take part in a variety of group activities, many of which are arranged by Activities Coordinator Andrew Miller. There’s a monthly cooking class (followed the next week by a gathering in which the students prepare a meal for the other residents), a film series featuring movies chosen by tenants (Andrew comes from the film world, so he encourages uniquely inspired choices), dog walking excursions to the Williamsburg BARC shelter and volunteer opportunities in the soup kitchen and pantry at St. John’s Bread & Life Program in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Creating togetherThere are other activities as well, from in-house gatherings to field trips. The activities attract participation from throughout the building, creating a wonderful dialogue between the arts and special needs tenants, who are constantly learning and growing from interacting with each other.

“It’s a very exciting and sometimes quite challenging place to work,” says Matthew. “I’m lucky to work with a lot of dedicated people whose hearts are in the right place.”

But as challenging as it sometimes may be, the community they are working to build is a beautiful one, a snapshot of which was taken by photographer Michele Asselin’s “The Schermerhorn: Summer 2010.” The portrait project is a permanent installation in the offices, and consists of over 60 stunning black-and-white photographs of residents and staff.

“The face of downtown Brooklyn is changing,” says Matthew. “This is affordable housing that’s beautiful yet accessible. And it enables artists to stay in New York and focus on pursuing their careers.”

Holiday celebrationEven though The Schermerhorn hasn’t been open for very long, it’s already changed people’s lives. And Matthew isn’t immune to the positive forces at work in the building, either.

“For me, I feel such a different connection to the city than when I was only performing or working backstage. I was looking for a way to focus my energy outward, and now I feel a different relationship with my community just walking down the street. I’m surprised every day.”

The Schermerhorn is currently accepting applications for residency. Visit The Actors Fund website for more information on how to apply.

–Karissa Krenz