Hollywood extends helping hand to Japan

2011-03-17 07:26

In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a number of entertainment companies have announced humanitarian aid programs for the beleaguered country.

The support ranges from direct charitable giving and donations of supplies to programs that match company employees’ charitable giving.

For many of the studios, the March 11 disaster and ensuing nuclear crisis hits close to home. Disney, for example, is a partner in Tokyo Disneyland, which remains shuttered pending safety inspections. And Sony Corp., the parent of Sony Pictures Entertainment, is based in Japan.

“Sony Pictures has a strong presence in Japan, as does Sony itself, and we know directly from our colleagues there how serious this crisis is for the country, and how urgent is the need for assistance,’’ said Janice Pober, senior vice-president, global corporate social responsibility at Sony Pictures.

While countless film, television and music stars have taken to Twitter and other outlets to urge their fans to give, a
handful have gotten in on the act themselves.

Lady Gaga, for example, has pledged to donate the proceeds of “We pray for Japan’’ bracelets to relief efforts. She announced on Twitter on Monday that her effort had so far raised $250 000.

And singer Katy Perry announced on Tuesday that she was donating proceeds from the sale of light-up wands on her
current tour to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

Following is a rundown of how entertainment companies are coming to the aid of Japan:

» Sony has given roughly $3.6 million to relief efforts, in addition to the donation of 30 000 radios and 500 000
batteries. The company also is establishing a matching gift program.
It’s worth noting that the hardest-hit Tohoku region is important for Sony, which maintains manufacturing facilities in the area.

» Disney has said it will donate $2.5 million to the American Red Cross to support aid efforts.

It will also match employee donations to the Japanese Red Cross, Pacific Tsunami Fund and Save the Children, up to $1 million total.

» Warner Bros. has said that proceeds of the sale of the DVD and Blu-ray versions of Hereafter will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross.

The donation will reportedly be in the $1 million range.

(Hereafter, which opens with a re-creation of the destructive 2004 tsunami in Thailand, was pulled from theatres by Warners in the aftermath of the Japan disaster).

Further plans for aid to Japan are said to be in the works.

» NBCUniversal has a handful of aid programs in place.

The company’s Asian Pacific Americans Affinity group co-hosted with NBC Los Angeles a fundraiser at Dodger Stadium on March 15.

The event raised $558 347 for the American Red Cross.

And the Asian Pacific Americans Affinity group is partnering with restaurants in New York on March 23 for a fundraiser that will see participating eateries donate about 5% of sales to the Red Cross.

NBCUniversal is also planning donate $500 000 to the Red Cross.

Meanwhile, parent company Comcast is providing free calls to Japan through April 10 for its Xfinity Voice and Business Class Voice customers.

» Viacom is matching employees’ contributions to the Red Cross.

All Viacom entities, including Paramount and MTV Networks, may participate in the program. There is no cap on what the company will match.

» News Corporation has yet to finalise is charitable giving plans, though it has encouraged employees to donate to three organisations that the company supports through its FoxGives charity programme.

Those three groups, Doctors Without Borders, Real Medicine and Save the Children, are all working on disaster relief in Japan.

Several talent agencies have or are planning to contribute to aid efforts.

Paradigm is matching its employees’ donations to the Red Cross; UTA’s foundation co-hosted with the American Red Cross a disaster preparedness briefing at the Red Cross headquarters in Los Angeles on March 15 (and several UTA employees are running in this month’s Los Angeles Marathon to raise money for the Red Cross in support of aid to thevictims); ICM and APA have or will donate undisclosed sums to the organisation; and CAA is making donations of undisclosed amounts to several aid organisations.

Entertainment companies aren’t alone in their support.

Big donations have come from the likes of Dow Chemical Co., which has pledged up to $6 million in aid; JPMorgan Chase, which is making a $5 million donation; and Boeing Co., which has pledged $2 million.

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