JOINING FORCES Inter-Guild Task Force

Planning a JOINING FORCES project with Julian H. Bond Lieutenant Colonel, LG Battalion Commander, while waiting in line for Michelle Obama.

MY TAKE: It was very enjoyable reading Sue Facter’s report in last week’s issue on the Hollywood meeting with Michelle Obama.

Now, from the point of view of an AFTRA Board member, I want to Talk about the inspiring privilege of spending a morning with The First Lady of the United States. Writers, actors, recording artists, news persons, directors and producers joined with her to hear and act upon the motivating stories of the service and sacrifice of active duty service men and women, veterans and the military families who serve alongside our soldiers.

It was worth arriving early. While in line, I met Lieutenant Colonel Julian H. Bond, Battalion Commander, 40th Brigade Support Battalion. We discussed some mutually supportive ideas that I’m sure will come to fruition! It was a fated meeting — a head start on our purpose.

THE PURPOSE: AFTRA, DGA, PGA, SAG and WGAW have joined forces in an Inter-Guild Task Force to bring awareness to the JOINING FORCES initiative. We were welcomed by Inter-Guild Task Force Coordinator and Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen (American Beauty, Milk).

Cohen says, “I am proud to be playing even a small role in the task force’s continuing mission to shed light on the issues… and encourage Americans to volunteer to help.”

Nearly 500 members of Hollywood’s creative community attended. Moderated by writer/director J. J. Abrams, he launched the discussion with the First Lady telling us, “We’re going to make sure we keep shining a light on these families. I want to ensure that these families feel support on the ground. This isn’t about politics. This isn’t about red or blue. I want to make sure we’re doing our part to step up so they don’t feel alone.”

She reminded us to take a moment to thank a service member, even if they look shy and embarrassed — it’s important for them to feel appreciation. Or email someone in the troops, as many have no letters or posts and need a friendly contact in the U.S that they are fighting for.

I just want to acknowledge here how much I detest the current wars. I always disagreed and there it is. But the humanity here is the young and willing service members and their families who are suffering physically and emotionally, and deserve our recognition and compassion.

AFTRA’S Joan Halpern Weise (of Studio City), Assistant National Executive Director, Entertainment Programming, and Bill Thomas, AFTRA Los Angeles Executive Director at the JOINING FORCES event.

Show People are good. Grammy Award-winning Dianne Warren has donated an original, unreleased song, entitled “Compass,” performed by Grammy Award-winning country superstars Rascal Flatts to JOINING FORCES for use in the PSA campaign. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious) told the audience: “Look around this room – we’re all storytellers. We all know the power that our words and images have, and it’s our turn to answer the call.”

“The wars are coming to a close, but the real work continues,” said Mrs. Obama, “I urge you to do what you do best: Be creative, funny and dramatic — move us.”

We, the audience, were moved by her grace, intelligence and sincere concern. The room was filled with stardust and Michelle Obama was the sun. I believe our respect and admiration turned into serious love. I personally adore Michelle (like she’s my girlfriend, I wish) — even more after being in her glowing company. The Task Force will provide creative and production support for the JOINING FORCES initiative and will inform and inspire their memberships and the entertainment industry about the service of America’s military families. If you want to join the JOINING FORCES initiative, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces.

We’ll Talk…

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