I'm just about to finish packing so that I can head to the airport for the loooong flight from Los Angeles back to New York. Modest Needs has a big day tomorrow (the ePhilanthropy award winner is going to be announced at 12:30pm), so I really need to try to rest up. This will be hard, since I don't really like to fly. Wish me luck on that one!
But before I turn off this computer and hit the road, I just have to tell you about the experience I had yesterday, as we shot Modest Needs' first ever Public Service Announcement.
You know, Modest Needs has always been about people just doing what they could to help others. And if Modest Needs has demonstrated anything at all over the years, it's that the kindness people show to one another every day at Modest Needs really is contagious.
People who are new to Modest Needs are constantly inspired by the generosity that so many of you show each day, just by giving a little bit - $5, $10, $20 - whatever you can afford to share, on behalf of people that really need your help. And this kind of selflessness on behalf of Modest Needs' donors - many of whom were once Modest Needs' applicants - well, it just brings out the very best in people.
Yesterday was no exception to this rule. For almost 10 hours, I watched - often with my jaw on the floor - as some of the most talented people in Hollywood gave up a day of their time and worked their hearts out - virtually for free - to 'spread the word' about the miracles you make possible every day through your support of Modest Needs.
I can't really talk about the day without first talking about Allison Janney, who you probably remember as CJ Cregg on The West Wing, and who I told you had agreed to appear in this PSA on Modest Needs' behalf.
I first met Allison by chance at a small gathering of Modest Needs' friends in Los Angeles in July. She'd heard about Modest Needs, was intrigued, and came to learn about the work we've been doing for the past five years. At that gathering, she was so taken by the stories she heard of your kindness that she agreed - without even hesitating - to do this PSA.
I'm telling you - for ten hours yesterday, Allison Janney treated this piece, and your work, as if it were the most important thing she'd ever filmed in her life. Allison has won four Emmys for her work in West Wing, and just watching her work, it was obvious why. She took our script, offered suggestions and innovations I would never have thought of, and then, through her delivery, she made this Public Service Announcement better than I'd have ever imagined would be possible, even in my wildest dreams.
Allison did all of this - hours in makeup, hours in front of a camera, hours of saying the same lines over and over again just to get it 'perfect' - absolutely for nothing. And when I told her at the end of the day that we'd always be in her debt for the work she'd done for us - she said, "No. I will always be in your debt for inviting me to be a part of something that really matters to so many people, including me.'
I think that really says it all, don't you?
But as you know, the 'star' is only one part of any production. Behind the scenes, you have a producer, a director, a director of photography, sound technicians, gaffers, grips - a whole crew of people without whom no production could take place. And yesterday, on our set, each of these people worked just as hard, gave everything that they had, and then some, to make this PSA something that people would stop and watch and notice and remember - and love.
Just watching these people work, you could tell that to each of them - from our producer, who never rested until things were perfect, to our director, who made sure that every shot was exactly right, to our BRILLIANT director of photography, who spent the day with us and then ran to the American Film Institute, where his film was premiering last night - to each of these people, and everyone else, that this work was both a labor of love and a real tribute to the power of human kindness.
It's extremely uncommon for a entire shoot of this kind to go off without a hitch - but that's exactly what happened yesterday. There were no problems, no bad surprises, no shots we couldn't get exactly right. Everything happened in exactly the right way, at exactly the right time, not just once, or twice, but all day.
I guess that's to be expected when so many people come together to the right thing for the right reasons.
Yesterday, Modest Needs had one perfect day. I met people and made friends that I know will be a part of my life, and of the work we're doing at Modest Needs, for a very long time. And at the end of the day, I was very moved when members of the crew came up to me and - after working this hard, all day - made personal contributions to Modest Needs, which we'll be distributing in tomorrow's round of funding.
What more could we possibly ask for? Glad you asked . . .
Wait until you find out - if all goes the way we planned it yesterday - where this finished PSA is going to air for the first time. You won't believe it. I *still* don't believe it. But then, given the kindness that I witness on your parts every day - well, I've learned to expect miracles. And folks, if Allison Janney has her way with this (and I think she will), we are about to get a bona-fide miracle.
I'll tell you more later as things develop - but trust me: this is gonna be good!
With that, I have to turn off this computer and head back to New York. But I had to share this with all of you first, because somehow, sharing it with you makes it real to me.
Tomorrow, I'll be back with the results of the ePhilanthropy awards, and Friday, I'll write a post about the first of those myths you've been asking about - I promise. In the meantime, though, I look forward to hearing from some of you soon, either via comments here, or by sending mail to me.
With that, I'm off! Have a great day, and I'll 'see' you tomorrow!