November 18, 1998
The Motion Picture Industry Charitable Alliance held a celebrity charity auction in Toronto October 17-18,1998 for White Ribbon Campaign and Covenant House New York. Lights, Camera, Auction! raised $70,000 CDN before expenses for the two designated charities.
The founders, Nigel Bennett, Jon Cassar and John Kapelos, organized the Motion Picture Industry Charitable Alliance to host charity auctions featuring items donated by actors, directors, producers and crew members of popular movies and television series. At these auctions, the fans of the shows are given the opportunity to collect special memorabilia while simultaneously generating funds for noteworthy causes. The January 1997 Bridging the Knight charity auction held in San Ramon, California raised US $48,000 for Toronto's Casey House, an AIDS hospice, and the Canadian Diabetes Association.
"All of us in the entertainment industry feel like we need to do more with the opportunities that are given us," explained co-founder Jon Cassar, a Toronto-based film and television director. "This is our way of giving something back."
This year, celebrities such as Paul Gross, Peta Wilson, Clark Johnson, Scott Wentworth, Barclay Hope, Dean McDermott and David Hewlett joined other actors, producers and production crew to raise money for charity. Noted producer Michael Sloan was in Toronto filming a movie and generously donated his time along with Eugene Robert Glazer, Alberta Watson, Don Francks and John Bourgeois and many other industry professionals to hold question and answer panels and auction off props, scripts, and wardrobe from such shows as Titanic, X-Files, Homicide, M*A*S*H, La Femme Nikita, Due South, F/X: The Series, Forever Knight, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, Psi Factor, and Earth: Final Conflict.
The weekend included a raffle, a silent auction, door prizes, a party and the now infamous "Coke Can Challenge" in which each celebrity had to auction off a can of Coca-Cola by the most creative method they knew. The top two auction items peaked at $6200 and $6000 respectively, with fans eagerly upping the bids when their favorite actors or crew members auctioned off material from their own shows. The cameraderie and good will among the guests and fans was so high that when an individual faltered during bidding, fans and celebrities actually handed over five, ten and twenty dollar bills to help the individual gain their coveted item.
"This is the what we love to see, " commented co-founder Nigel Bennett, Toronto-based actor and director. "People not only helping our charities but helping each other. The industry and the fans working together is a wonderful thing."
Guest and attendee response to the event has been so positive that they have already committed to attending next year's auction, which will benefit another pair of charities, as the designated charities change each year.
"We're still winding down from this one!" laughs Cassar as yet another person on set volunteers their time for next year, but both he and Bennett are gratified by the overwhelming support and are busy gathering donations for next year's event, tentatively scheduled for October 1999.
This page last updated April 13, 1999