Ask Not What Your TV Show Can Do For You

"What we want to do is make volunteering cool," says the Entertainment Industry Foundation

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Paul Bradbury
    Style: "Flat"

    If you've suddenly found yourself considering the idea of volunteering but can't quite put your finger on why, it might not be an accident. More than 60 shows on major networks including the big three are integrating volunteerism into story lines or will feature public-service announcements to spread the message, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

    A campaign to encourage volunteering called "I Participate" is being coordinated by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a charity made up of representatives from the business.

     "What we want to do is make volunteering cool," Sherry Lansing, the former studio executive who serves as EIF chairperson, told the Reporter. "We all have seen the effect of a television show, a movie or a celebrity endorsement. It draws attention to a cause. It makes it part of the culture and hopefully sets an example people follow."

    The idea came up during an EIF retreat when the group brainstormed ways to follow up on last year's Stand Up to Cancer campaign, which raised more than $100 million, according to the Reporter.

    Some big shows are weighing in: on "The Biggest Loser," contestants will volunteer at a Los Angeles food bank; "Brothers," the guys volunteer as coaches; and "CSI: NY," Hill Harper's Dr. Sheldon Hawkes volunteers at a hospital.

    "It was an idea that started as a small seed and grew and grew," NBC executive Vice President Mitch Metcalf told the Reporter.

    The campaign plans to expand its message with trailers in movie theaters, music, and more.

    The combined screen time donated by media outlets is likely worth millions of dollars. Lansing took a cue from MasterCard simply calling it "priceless."