Special Report: How The Entertainment Industry Can Be A Force For Good Panel Discussion

How The Entertainment Industry Can Be A Force For Good was the topic of the Fifth Annual PIRATES (Print Interactive Radio & Television Educational Society) Special Event at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences this year.

Produced and moderated by President of Healthier Solutions, Inc., Robert Berger; their guest speakers included Exec. Vice President, Marketing & Industry Relations Entertainment Industries Council (EIC), Larry Deutchman, M.B.A.; theatrical publicist for such noted Broadway Legends as Carol Channing, Florence Henderson and Julie Newmar, B. Harlan Boll as well as Key Note Speaker the Golden Globe winning actress and animal activist, Tippi Hedren.

On the whole, people who make a living in the entertainment industry have tremendously huge hearts, especially its "Celebrities." Sadly, there is no shortage of causes to embrace and although there are tremendous opportunities for nonprofits to tap into this powerful resource to help further raise awareness and raise much needed funds during these trying times ... the question often remains as to exactly whom and how do the organizations proceed? This special PIRATES event, hosted by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, provided insights into how to effectively collaborate with members of the entertainment.

Ms Hedren shared inspiring story's of the effect of being an actress who was blessed by legendary on-screen work and the part it played in her efforts to protect wildlife. Mr Deutchman spoke of the role the entertainment industry can play in social issue advocacy in film story-lines, television and other entertainment vehicles. Mr Boll gave insight with regard to the benefits and pit falls of having the power of a celebrity endorsement behind a cause, but more importantly how to properly and effectively approach an artist with requests.

Ms Hedren is the only actress to have worked under the direction of both Hitchcock and Chaplin. Having never been out of work since she made her film debut in "The Birds," Tippi continues to work frequently in motion pictures, theatre, and episodic television. Deeply involved with international conservation groups to save wildlife, and an outspoken voice against cruelty to animals, both wild and domestic, she's a board member of "The Wildlife Safari" and the Earth Communications Office (ECO), and President of the newly-formed "American Sanctuary Association." Her other charity work includes the American Heart Association, The March of Dimes, Multiple Sclerosis, International Orphans, Inc., and several AIDS causes. She has received numerous awards for both her cinematic achievements and for her achievements in bettering the world we live in.

Perhaps Tippi's most unique endeavor is being "den mother" and close friend to sixty-odd big cats - lion, tiger, leopard, cougar and even a Liger at The Roar Foundation's Shambala Preserve near Acton, California. The high desert game preserve is home to the felines and pachyderms and was first established as an African-type set for the motion picture, Roar, which Tippi co-produced and starred in with her daughter, film actress Melanie Griffith. After the five year filming was completed, it became the current, non-profit center for big cat care and research.

"The Birds' opened many opportunities for me to be able to speak out on behalf of others and I have always tried to do what I can," said Ms. Hedren. "However, I also understand those artists who shy away from putting themselves in the spotlight for a cause. It can be both extremely exhausting physically and emotionally as well as dangerous. On more than one occasion my life has been threatened by someone who didnt like the Bill I was working on before it was introduced to Congress. Once the FBI had to get involved, because a gentleman, who somehow got my home number and left a threat. It was a foolish thing for this man to do, but as I was told, its the fools you have to watch out for.

Mr Deutchman, works for EIC, a non-profit organization founded in 1983 by leaders in the entertainment industry to provide information, awareness and understanding of major health and social issues among the entertainment industries and to audiences at large. Overseeing West Coast operations, as well as heading up creative and product development, branding and marketing, he is the primary liaison to the entertainment industry, spearheading the organization's efforts to impact on the depiction of various health and social issues in entertainment. For the last 23 years, Larry has specialized in unique cause-related marketing efforts.

Publicist, B. Harlan Böll of Davidson & Choy PR, told the audience that personalities who use their influence to raise awareness are todays superheros. He remarked that Tippi Hedren herself should have a cape and it wouldnt surprise him if she could actually fly and that Alison Arngrim (formerly Nellie Oleson of Little House on the Prairie), who was in attendance deserves a skin tight Lycra Super Girl body suit, then paused saying "Wait, you all ready have one dont you?" Ms Arngrim just smiled and nodded.

Continuing, Mr Boll added, "However, unlike the super heroes of the Marvel Comics fame, celebrities dont have secret identities they can take respite behind. This fact makes what ElizaBeth Taylor did for AIDS, Carol Channing does for the arts in our public school system, Tippi Hedren does for animals and what Alison Arngrim does for children through the Protect organization (PROTECT.org) all the more impressive." Fortunately, there are a lot to choose from as the one thing that Stage, Film, Television and even, yes Reality TV, have in common, is the produce celebrities. He was quick to point out that not every celebrity will necessarily work for any project or cause. "Do your homework!," Boll advised. "In this Internet accessible world it is much easier to identify those to whom your cause is of particular interest. Having an personal connection or a passion for a topic can both increase your chances of garnering their support and in the long run, their words and efforts are going to mean so much more."

Ms. Hedren was quick to agree with the observation. "This idea should also be applied, to some extent, to fund raising events. Having a famous person at your event may mean more press, but it may not mean better coverage. Unless the personality cares about the topic and has a reason to actively speak out to the gathered media, then the only thing that will appear in post media is their upcoming film, series or CD release." Adding that, "the effort is twice as wasteful if youve had to pay for travel and accommodations for the individual." In the business world, corporations very carefully pick the celebrity whose face reps their product. Before they make their first appearance, you can be absolutely sure that they have been made fully aware of the products claims. The professional wants to know as well. You can be sure Lindsay Wagner wakes up on a Sleep Number Bed and Florence Henderson uses Wesson Oil in her cooking." "Although," he confessed, "Florence doesnt need Polident (a product she has also endorsed) herself, you know damn well she is throughly educated on what the product can do." "This same attention to detail should apply to the abilities and activities of a non-profit as well, and with as many that are now out there, it is to there benefit to have that knowledge as well."

"In a dream world, you will find that one great recognizable spokesperson who will be both active enough in the industry to make he or she press worthy, but still have time to dedicate themselves to the cause they feel strongly about ans whose popularity crosses all generations, ethnic groups and genders. However, in the reality world, you will need to find more than one voice. Sometimes, you may need to partner an experienced but less known representative with the celebrity as well, believe it or not, being goo din front of a live audience or a camera crew does not necissarily mean they are an excellent speaker."

Harlan specializes in literary, personality and event public relations. A partial list of celebrity clients include Carol Channing, Esther Williams, Tippi Hedren, Florence Henderson, Julie Newmar, Alison Arngrim, Bob Hope Enterprises, Inc. and the late Mr. Blackwell. To date, he has scheduled over 1000 appearances or participation by public personalities for non-profits such as L.I.F.E. (Love Is Feeding Everyone), Tuesdays Child, The John Wayne Cancer Foundation, APLA, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Center, The Los Angeles Public Library Foundation, Actors & Others for Animals and others. He has worked with personalities ranging from ElizaBeth Taylor, Mother Teresa, Muhamad Ali, Walter Cronkite and Whoopi Goldberg in raising money and awareness for children and families living with HIV and AIDS for many projects including as talent coordinator the "Portaits of Life," a photo essay book by Joan Lauren.

Prior to the Television Academy's 50th Anniversary, Harlan coordinated talent for the tribute book entitled "The Best In Television: Fifty Years Of Emmys,"arranging many of the the sixty-five celebrity interviews that comprise a great deal of the books substance. Harlan serves on the Board of Directors, Event committees and Advisory Boards for various charities including; The Actors Fund of America, The Roar Foundation/Shambala Preserve, The Dr. Carol Channing Endowment for the Arts Foundation, and The National Association to PROTECT Children.

Upcoming events that were offered to the audience for consideration was:

1.) Cirque Du Shambala on Saturday, March 14th, 2008, 1:00 - 5:00pm and benefiting The Roar Foundation by calling 661-268-0380 or visiting shambala.org.

2.) Sing for the Cure® on Saturday, March 14th, 2009 at 8:00pm. Stage and television icon Florence Henderson joins Vox Femina Los Angeles as narrator for a poignant, moving performance about breast cancer, by calling 310-922-0025 or at www.voxfeminala.org or via E.mail at vfla@voxfeminala.org

3.) Carol Channing launches Cabaret at the Castle with an evening benefit for the Dr. Carol Channing and Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts (www.carolchanning.org - click on foundation page), an organization dedicated to raising the awareness for the need of and to bring the arts back into the public school system by calling 323-851-3313 or e.mailing mpatton@magiccastle.com.

Photo by Bill Dow: Larry Deutchman, Robert Berger (moderator), Tippi Hedren and B. Harlan Boll

 

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