Monthly Archives: June 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Celebrity Charities And Frugality

Forbes Philanthropy Celebrity Charities: Good For Image, But What About Good Works? Monte Burke and William P. Barrett 06.30.10, 6:20 PM ET Like a good tax advisor, a charitable connection is now considered essential for a serious celebrity building a brand. That can come through an identification with a cause (think Mary Tyler Moore and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), by contributing cash after a disaster (Brad Pitt and Angelia Jolie for Haiti), or from big fundraising events (Jerry Lewis and his annual telephones for the Muscular Dystrophy Association). In Pictures: Celebrities and Their Charities Or, a celebrity can do like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Michael Dell and many other billionaires on the Forbes 400 list have done and set up their own foundation, perhaps branded with their own name. We estimate about a fourth of those on our 2010 list of the biggest celebrities have their own charities. A private foundation can afford maximum control and tax planning benefit, not to mention image-burnishing. In a very high-income year a celebrity can give, say, $1 million to his own private foundation and get a current tax deduction for all of it. But the foundation only has to spend 5% of its assets on charity work each year. That means the largess can be doled out way in the future, perhaps when a fading celebrity needs a publicity lift. So foundations can be good for celebrities. What about charity? Forbes examined the latest tax returns of 175 nonprofits with a strong celebrity link and found many operate with admirable efficiency, while others run up high expenses. If a foundation gets it funds primarily from the celebrity (so there are no fundraising costs) and runs no programs, simply making grants of money to other charities, overhead costs can be negligible. David Letterman’s whimsically named American Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming handed out $1.2 million to a wide range of charities with overhead expense of just $25. Alec Baldwin’s foundation gave away $555,000 with only $215 in overhead expenses; fellow actor Steve Martin’s disbursed $399,000 with overhead of $329. The foundation of novelist Dean Koontz distributed $1.2 million with overhead of $2,400, while Martha Stewart’s handed out $1.6 million with overhead of just $4,891. Other celebrities with frugal foundations (overhead of 5% or less of grants made) include Candice Bergen, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Richard Gere, Kelsey Grammer, Ron Howard, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Stephen King, Lorne Michaels, Bette Midler, Jerry Seinfeld and Donald J. Trump. At the other end of the spectrum, celebrities with at least one foundation carrying relatively high overhead (20% or more of grants made) include Jane Fonda, Hugh M. Hefner, Larry King, Dr. Phil McGraw and filmmaker Michael Moore. An Oprah Winfrey nonprofit, Oprah’s Angel Network, which is being shut down, gave away $8.6 million but had a higher-than-normal overhead rate of 37%. A spokesman for the TV talk show star said contributions came from viewers and that Winfrey paid the overhead herself. A charity created by Rosie O’Donnell, the For All Kids Foundation, doled out $2.9 million in grants last year. But it spent another $1.9 million on overhead, or 64 cents for every dollar of grants, among the highest overhead we found. Why so high? We didn’t get an explanation from the charity. But in its tax filing, it reported $340,000 in fundraising expenses, loan payments on a debt and hundreds of thousands of dollars on unspecified “management” fees. Celebrity foundations that use sports fundraising are often among the least efficient. Consider Bob Hope, the legendary entertainer who died in 2003 at age 100. Around Palm Springs, Calif., Desert Classic Charities d/b/a Bob Hope Classic runs a golf tournament that produced $1.6 million for other charities. But to do so it had to spend nearly five times that sum in expenses. “It’s very hard to evaluate a charity like ours on the basis of efficiency,” says business manager James Reed. Hope is among the many celebrities whose charitable presence has endured long past their own deaths. Other such namesake honorees include Louis Armstrong, John Belushi, Irving Berlin, Alfred J. Hitchcock, Danny Kaye, Jim Henson, Liberace, Charles A. Lindbergh, Paul Newman, Mary Pickford, Elvis Presley, Christopher Reeve and Lawrence Welk. The John W. Carson Foundation, named for the late-night TV host who’s late himself, gave away $247,000. But it said in tax filings it received from a related trust a gift (it valued at $490,000) of Carson’s “image and likeness.” Presumably, the related trust got a tax deduction. The literary trust established by the will of writer Truman Capote, who died in 1984, still handed out nearly $400,000 for creative writing scholarships. But it spent nearly as much on overhead, including large legal, accounting and management fees. Indeed, the 83% overhead rate was among the highest we saw by far. Trustee Alan U. Schwartz, who was Capote’s lawyer, says the overhead exists because new deals had to be negotiated concerning Capote’s literary works, which are the bulk of the trust’s assets. “We had to spend money to make the money,” he said. Celebrity foundations can fade even if a star doesn’t. Latest available filings show little or no charitable activities for nonprofits associated with Nicolas Cage, Calvin Klein, Lou Gossett Jr. or Bruce Willis. But the Oscar-wining Gossett, 74, says he is starting to raise funds to build a community center for youths in a yet-to-be-designated troubled big city. His goal, he says, is to give kids some place to go “away from the gangs.” Enhanced by Zemanta
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Arif Mardin: ‘The Greatest Ears in Town’

Jewel, Arif, and Bette

Los Angeles Times Producer Arif Mardin celebrated in documentary ‘The Greatest Ears in Town’ June 29, 2010 | 1:00 pm It’s a remarkable on one level that a man who played a critical role in shaping a boatload of hit records by Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees, Bette Midler, Carly Simon, Phil Collins, Dusty Springfield, Chaka Khan, Norah Jones and countless others isn’t a household name. On the other hand, it’s not surprising that longtime Atlantic Records staff producer-arranger Arif Mardin is overshadowed in the pop music history books by the larger-than-life executives he worked for at the label: Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler. Mardin “was more responsible than he has ever been given credit for many of the successes that we’ve had,” Ertegun himself says in “The Greatest Ears in Town: The Arif Mardin Story,” an illuminating documentary filled with as much humor as pathos that received its first L.A. screening Monday night at the Grammy Museum as part of the facility’s “Reel to Reel” film series. The two-hour film is built around footage shot in 2006 while Mardin was at work on what would become his final recording, “All My Friends Are Here,” a star-studded collection featuring artists he guided to some of their finest performances, singing songs he’d written over the years. He died of pancreatic cancer that year at age 74, shortly before finishing the album, which was released June 15 after being completed by his son, Joe Mardin, who also co-directed “The Greatest Ears in Town.” The documentary traces his life from his birth in Turkey to an aristocratic family and his early fascination with American jazz through his move to the U.S. to study at the Berklee College of Music to landing a job as a studio assistant at Atlantic in the early 1960s. It was there that he eventually brought the full scope of his skills as a composer, arranger and producer to bear after charting his first hit in 1966: the Young Rascals’ “Good Lovin’.” It was Mardin who crafted many of Springfield’s blue-eyed soul sessions in the late 1960s, who put the Bee Gees on the dance-minded, falsetto vocal sound that put them on track for their extraordinary “Saturday Night Fever” success and who surprised Khan with the hip hop-laced treatment of Prince’s “I Feel for You” in 1984 that became her biggest pop hit. Monday’s screening was followed by a brief Q&A with Khan, Quincy Jones — a mentor who secured him the Berklee scholarship that allowed him to move here — Joe Mardin and the film’s co-director, Doug Biro. Mardin’s widow and Joe’s mother, Latife Mardin, who spoke sweetly in the film of their 50-year marriage, was in the audience, and Recording Academy President Neil Portnow was on hand as emcee. All spoke of Mardin as a man of exceptional grace and wit, one who never attempted to overlay his own musical identity onto the artists he worked with. Instead, he tapped a broad-based set of musical skills to shepherd each to new creative heights. Longtime Beatles producer George Martin appears in the film expressing admiration for Mardin’s work, and reflecting on the common aspects of their jobs as producers who were classically trained composers and arrangers. Discussing the advantages such training gives a producer over those without compositional and arranging skills, 26-time Grammy winner Jones noted that in today’s computer and ProTools-driven world of record making, “If you don’t know music, you work for ProTools. If you know music, ProTools works for you.” “The Greatest Ears in Town: The Arif Mardin Story” will get additional theatrical and television screenings before it is slated for release later this year on DVD, according to a spokeswoman for the project. — Randy Lewis Enhanced by Zemanta
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Video: Everyone’s Gone To The Moon

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Photo: Detective Work

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BetteBack: Roses – A Safe Bette

`Roses’: A Safe Bette Article from:The Washington Post Article date:August 16, 1995 Author: Mike Joyce The test for determining who will enjoy Bette Midler’s new album essentially boils down to a simple question. Which Midler do you prefer: the “Divine Miss M,” the outrageous pop diva who once dubbed her act “trash with flash”? Or the unapologetic Top 40 contender with a well-documented taste for songs as sentimental as “Wind Beneath My Wings” and as inspirational as “From a Distance”? Those who checked off the first choice might want to turn to the comics page right about now. To paraphrase one of Midler’s album titles, there’ll be no mud flung this time around. On the contrary, “Bette of Roses” (Atlantic) is just what its name implies: a lavish bouquet of love songs and sweet nothings, tenderly arranged by a woman who has found great contentment and blessings in her personal life. If that sounds boring, well, it often is — but not because its premise is faulty. Given the right material, Midler could easily express the same sentiments with the warmth and charm she radiated when she bid adieu to Johnny Carson with “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)” during the final days of his “Tonight Show” reign. Unfortunately, the names of Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen and their ilk are not to be found among her new recording’s credits, only those of less gifted and distinctive tunesmiths. The first single released, Maria McKee’s “To Deserve You,” defines the album’s frequently supplicating and suffocating tone. “If I could be granted a wish,” Midler ponders, “I’d shine in your eye like a jewel, how I want to deserve you.” Bracketing that tune are similarly lopsided romantic odes. “To Comfort You,” professes undying and selfless devotion (“I’m only here to comfort you” is the recurring and ultimately unnerving refrain); and “The Last Time” finds Midler sounding suddenly like the “Supine Miss M,” as she tells a lover who’s mistreated her that “my heart is weak/ My love is blind/ When your game is up/ I’ll still be by your side.” There are, mercifully, more substantial ballads and romantic fables, such as “Bed of Roses” and “The Perfect Kiss,” both of which are dreamily orchestrated by Midler’s longtime producer, Arif Mardin. Cheryl Wheeler’s simple but effective vignette, “I Know This Town,” gets things off to a promising start and a slightly updated reprise of the country hit “I Believe in You” brings the session to a gentle, tuneful close. In between, however, it might just cross your mind that nothing would improve “Bette of Roses” more than a good pair of pruning shears.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Time’s Best Live Concerts Ever!

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The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation will present a special One Night Only Cabaret July 12 at Club Fugazi in San Francisco. Bruce Vilanch To Host

Playbill One Night Only Cabaret to Feature Bruce Vilanch and Frankenstein and Wicked Casts By Andrew Gans June 29, 2010 The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation will present a special One Night Only Cabaret July 12 at Club Fugazi in San Francisco. The 7:30 PM concert will feature cast members from the national tours of Young Frankenstein and Wicked, who will offer song selections of their own choice to present “an evening of upbeat, high-energy music, dance and comedy.” Bruce Vilanch, who made his Broadway debut in Hairspray, will be the evening’s special guest. Proceeds will benefit The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Club Fugazi is located at 678 Green St. in San Francisco. For tickets, priced $25-$100, call (415) 421-4222. A limited number of tickets are also available for the dessert party with the cast following the show for an additional $20/person. * Young Frankenstein will play the Golden Gate Theatre June 30-July 25. Wicked is currently playing the Orpheum Theatre through Sept. 5. Enhanced by Zemanta
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Video: Broken Bicycles

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BetteBack: The Queen Of Compost

Getting Hollywood to promote composting in Los Angeles Article from:BioCycle Article date:June 1, 1996 Author: Anonymous Singer-actress Bette Midler will be the star of a Los Angeles campaign to “keep the green clean,” as the Sanitation Department seeks to improve the quality of its compost by getting residents to keep contaminants out of yard trimmings collections. Midler got the city’s attention after her quotes about compost in the Los Angeles Times. “I love compost, and I believe in it with every fiber of my being,” she told the Times. “I believe composting can save – not the entire world – but a good portion of it. It’s easy to make, low maintenance and just what the land needs. Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has named Midler the city’s “Queen of Compost,” and her smiling face will be seen on 115 billboards throughout the L.A. area from May through the end of the year. Her message: Never put anything but “grass, leaves and tree trimmings” in the green recycling containers. Yard trimmings collected from residents are composted at the city’s Griffith Park facility as well as at several private sites. Enhanced by Zemanta
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Photo: Disneyland

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