Hollywood has always had strong philanthropic roots, dating back to when Sam Goldwyn teamed up with the Warner Brothers, Humphrey Bogart, and James Cagney to form the Entertainment Industry Foundation. While actors often take center stage, particularly when it comes to helping raise awareness for charitable causes, it's the studio and television owners and executives that have the truly deep pockets.
More than $500 billion flows through the film and television industry each year, and now we're starting to see a new generation of philanthropists, many of whom made their fortunes in relatively new forms of media, like cable TV or the Internet.
Here are five of the most philanthropic film and television executives, in no particular order:
The former executive at Paramount and Fox, and the creator of the USA Network has given away tens of millions of dollars since launching his family foundation in 1987, and recently pledged $130 million for a new park in New York City. His giving has notably increased in the past few years, with big gifts to the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation, and NYC parks. He and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, are signatories of the Giving Pledge, so we’re expecting more big moves from them in the coming years as they prepare to give away at least half their fortune, which now stands at $2.4 billion. Aside from their big gives, they have a rather well-rounded giving portfolio, with what appears to be a heavy interest in the arts. See Diller's full IP Profile.
Primarily known for the more than 20 years he spent as the head of Disney, Eisner and his wife Jane have given out over $100 million in grants since starting their foundation in 1996, and have endowed it with an additional $125 million so far. Not too shabby for someone who is currently worth approximately $1 billion. Most of the money stays close to Los Angeles, and goes to health and education, though the Eisners have also supported a variety of organizations on a national scale, and to a lesser degree, community organizations in New York. See Eisner's full IP Profile.
The former head of Disney’s motion picture division, and cofounder of DreamWorks SKG and his wife Marilyn started their family foundation in 1994. They’ve given away $15 million or so in the last decade, and have another $15 million in assets, spreading the money around to 50-100 organizations per year, and funding a variety of causes, including arts and culture, the environment, human and civil rights, and Jewish organizations, though the couple seems primarily interested in health and education, particularly when it comes to younger children. Additionally, Katzenberg has made two major pledges along with his DreamWorks SKG partners, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Each has pledged $30 million to the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation (Katzenberg chairs the organization), and $10 million to build the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. With a net worth of nearly $1 billion, we expect to see more big giving from Katzenberg in the years to come. See Katzenberg's full IP profile.
The creator of the Turner Broadcasting Corporation, which owns such properties as TBS, TNT, CNN, TCM, and the Cartoon Network, has given some $1.6 billion to charity over the last two and a half decades, placing him at or near the top of the most generous givers in the entertainment industry. A full $1 billion has gone to the United Nations Foundation, and another $250 million has gone to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, both of which Turner helped to create. Aside from that, his Ted Turner Foundation has given out roughly $350 million in grants, mostly to conservation efforts and other environmental causes, though he’s also provided funding for community development, arts and culture, and pro-choice organizations. Currently worth $2.2 billion, and having just finished fulfilling his initial $1 billion commitment to the U.N. Foundation, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Turner make another round of major philanthropic announcements before long. See Turner's full IP profile.
The chairman of National Amusements, and owner of a controlling stake in CBS and Viacom, has donated more than $220 million to charitable causes over the course of his career. Surviving a fire that left him with severe burns in 1979, and prostate cancer in the 90’s, he has become a major supporter these and other health-related causes. Much of the rest of his money has gone toward education, and organizations that work to improve the lives of kids, though he also supports a wide variety of organizations in Los Angeles. He’s now 91, and worth $6.2 billion, so we may see more big gifts soon, as he solidifies his philanthropic legacy. See Redstone's full IP profile.