Every industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as work in every area from Wall Street to small businesses to Hollywood has ground to a halt in nationwide efforts to curb the spread of the virus. But essential workers and medical professionals are still getting exposed to the virus daily, many of whom hail from low-income communities who can’t afford to stay home. To help the people on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, major Hollywood studios, companies, stars, and crew workers are rallying together to raise funds or send much-needed equipment to essential and medical workers.
Donations and Funds Go to Medical Equipment, and the “Worst Off”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that some of Hollywood’s most powerful figures — including former Disney CEOs Bob Iger and Jeffrey Katzenberg, director Steven Spielberg, and more — are donating half a million dollars each to the city’s efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Deadline reports that the Mayor, in his daily briefing on the health crisis, revealed that LA has received at least six $500,000 donations from the Hollywood bigwigs, which will be going to hospitals and medical facilities that are already starting to be overwhelmed by coronavirus cases and those “who are the worst off in this city,” Garcetti said:
“In fact, tonight we received new commitments of half a million dollars each from Willow Bay and Bob Iger, from Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg, from Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, from Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Andrew Hauptman, from Meg Whitman and Griffith Harsh, and from Casey and Laura Wasserman.”
On the other side of the pond, X-Men star James McAvoy donated £275,000 ($340,000) to a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for protective equipment for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) staff. The Masks 4 Heroes campaign was launched by a group of NHS medics and doctors who are pleading for protective equipment for masks, visors, and gloves, all of which have seen startling shortages in countries who are starting to see the worst of the outbreak.
“The situation is truly urgent and time is of the essence,” McAvoy said in the above video message announcing his donation.
Meanwhile, below-the-line workers in the U.K. entertainment industry are getting another boost thanks to a BBC pledge to make a £500,000 ($612,000) donation to the COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund set up by the BFI and the U.K.’s Film and TV Charity, according to Deadline. The BBC follows in the footsteps of Netflix’s pledge to donate £1 million to the fund, which provides short-term relief for active workers and freelancers whose livelihoods have been upended by shuttered productions in the U.K. The BBC has also committed an additional £200,000 to the Film and TV Charity’s two-year mental health action plan known as the Whole Picture Programme. .
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Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is pledging $100 million to another industry that is still working away, but hasn’t received as much attention as essential or medical workers. On his Facebook page on Monday, Zuckerberg pledged $100 million to support news outlets whose businesses have taken a hit by the coronavirus crisis, committing $25 million to “emergency grant funding” for local outlets in particular.
The Monday announcement adds to the $300 million that Facebook has already committed to news organizations. There aren’t details yet on how the funds will be allocated, but Facebook said that the first batch of funds will go towards companies in the U.S. and Canada such as The Post and Courier in South Carolina.
Costume Designers Sew Scrubs for Medics
Costume makers for the BBC and HBO drama His Dark Materials are taking medical supply shortages into their own hands — literally. The costume department is making scrubs for British medics who are treating coronavirus with the Helping Dress Medics initiative, which has raised more than £8,000 ($10,000) on GoFundMe to supply protective clothing to local hospitals. The initiative, which is also backed by Downton Abbey costume designer Caroline McCall, uses the funds to provide materials while the costumers make scrubs and more for free.
“We are liaising with hospital staff directly in the areas we live and taking advice from them about what they need, so that we can specifically help them. The nature of how the virus is spread means that the demand for scrubs is especially high,” Scott said on GoFundMe.
Disney Executives Take Pay Cuts
The Walt Disney Company announced that executive chairman Bob Iger will forgo his entire salary while new CEO Bob Chapek takes a 50% pay cut until the company makes a “substantive recovery.” According to an email sent from Chapek to Disney employees, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Disney’s top executives are taking the pay cuts in the face of the company’s massive financial losses as film releases like Mulan and Black Widow get delayed amid coronavirus concerns and theme parks close. In addition, all vice presidents “will have their salaries reduced by 20 percent, SVPs by 25 percent and EVPs and above by 30 percent” effective April 5.
The top brass taking pay cuts is a good move from Disney, which employs thousands of workers across the world. In a massive company like Disney, it’s often the lower-paid workers who are affected first by financial downturns like the one we’re currently experiencing, but Iger and Chapek’s salary cuts could slow lay-offs, or at least be taken as a gesture of goodwill. Iger earned $47.5 million as chairman and CEO in the latest fiscal year, while Chapek’s base salary as CEO is $2.5 million with an annual target bonus of $7.5 million
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