Hollywood, star brokers and influential charities


This recent article in the UK’s Sunday Times magazine is well worth a read.  In it, Jonathan Foreman provides  insights into the ways in which the power brokers of the talent agencies match influential charities with guilt-ridden celebrities.

I particularly enjoyed the following clips:

  • “Over the last decade and a half, the agency foundations have grown in influence as Hollywood has become obsessed by philanthropy and social activism. It is now all but socially unacceptable for Hollywood big shots ­— and wannabe big shots — not to have a cause. Yet little has been written about the foundations’ existence or the power they wield. Hollywood agencies are famously discreet, even secretive, as they must be for their clients to trust them. It stands to reason that their foundations operate in the same way.”
  • “Such is CAA’s influence that when the agency began to focus on malaria last year, this suddenly became a subject Hollywood people cared about. It was CAA that arranged for FC Barcelona to team up with the Fox soccer channel and to back Malaria No More, a charity that sends thousands of lifesaving $10 mosquito nets to Africa.”
  • “Hollywood’s obsession with philanthropy may also be a sign of deeper cultural shifts in the entertainment industry. The screenwriter Lionel Chetwynd, a prominent conservative, is convinced that it reflects a profound change in the way that actors see themselves. “People become actors because they want adoration and adulation,” he said. “But these days they’re surrounded by MBA types, and it often feels like being an actor is an immature thing to be. Their agents and publicists are better educated than they are. In the old days an agent was a high-school dropout too.”

Who gains most from such celebrity endorsement?  I wish it were really the world’s poorest and most marginalised – but I guess that’s not really going to be the case!

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1 Comment

Filed under Africa, Ethics

One response to “Hollywood, star brokers and influential charities

  1. Laura Melkonian

    Thank you for sharing the above clips. I wish we could sit back with pride and laud America’s superstars for their generous donations but I fear the negative impact of their accumulation of such wealth and subsequent shopping habits, far exceeds their positive donations.

    When the cited article says, “Hollywood’s obsession with philanthropy may also be a sign of deeper cultural shifts in the entertainment industry.” I would not be quickly convinced that the cultural shifts are so deep, but rather that the current day awareness of worldwide poverty makes it difficult for the top 1% to hide behind a veil of ignorance, or to pretend that their deep pockets could not make a material difference in many struggling countries.

    Rather than donations, I would prefer to see the consumption patterns of Hollywood stars go down, as their purchases give political power to multinational corporations who drive a “race to the bottom” in developing countries. If move stars could spend more time on how to be good global citizens, they would surely need to spend less time on how to look good.

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