TIME baltimore

Former Baltimore Policeman Will Perform in Blackface to Raise Funds for Freddie Gray Officers

Baltimore Police Death
Patrick Semansky—AP Protesters march through Baltimore the day after charges were announced against the police officers involved in Freddie Gray's death on May 2, 2015

"There's no racial overtones to this show. There's nothing racial to the show"

(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) — A former Baltimore police officer said Wednesday that he plans to perform an Al Jolson routine in blackface to raise money for the six Baltimore officers who have been indicted in the death of Freddie Gray.

Bobby Berger, whose performances as Jolson created tension with the department in the 1980s, said Wednesday that 610 tickets have been sold in eight days at $45 each for the Nov. 1 fundraiser in Glen Burnie.

But the venue where Berger intended to hold the event, Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, posted a notice on its website that the fundraiser will not be hosted there.

“No contract was signed with Mr. Berger,” the notice said. “Michael’s does not condone blackface performances of any kind.”

Berger said in an interview he doesn’t believe there is anything racist about his routine.

“It’s coincidence,” Berger said about the fact that the entertainer he impersonates wore blackface. “There’s no racial overtones to this show. There’s nothing racial to the show.”

Michael Davey, an attorney for the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police, said officers do not support the fundraiser. Gray was black. He died of injuries received in police custody. Davey said no money would be accepted from the fundraiser.

“They’ve been put in a pretty bad position without their knowledge,” Davey said of the police officers.

Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP, says the idea is “very distasteful.”

“This is showing no sensitivity to the family of Freddie Gray,” Hill-Aston said.

Gray’s death prompted a wave of arson, looting and open confrontations with riot police in Baltimore in April.

Berger, who is 67, has performed the blackface signing act for decades. He was fired from the police force in the 1980s for performing the act in his spare time. He was reinstated to his job following an appeal, but later retired. His performance at a retirement dinner for a white Baltimore County officer in 1996 prompted a black officers group to protest outside the dinner.

Berger said in an interview Wednesday that he only intended to help the officers who were indicted in the Gray case.

“I want to get these people some money,” Berger said. “I know they need it, and that’s the long and short of it.”

TIME Hillary Clinton

How Hillary Clinton Is Shifting Hollywood Fundraising Strategy

Hillary Rodham Clinton at the U.S. Capitol on July 14, 2015.
Bill Clark—CQ Roll Call/AP Hillary Rodham Clinton at the U.S. Capitol on July 14, 2015.

Clinton is using backyard meet-and-greets to reintroduce herself to industry donors — and it's working

Four years ago, Barack Obama was packing L.A. hotel ballrooms for fast cash for his re-election campaign. But Hillary Clinton is taking a different approach in her second bid for the White House. The former secretary of state is opting for more intimate gatherings in the backyards of such longtime Hollywood friends as producer Steven Bochco and HBO’s Michael Lombardo, where she’s able to spend more one-on-one time with guests willing to donate $2,700 apiece.

Clinton’s approach has served to build a deeper list of small donors who can be tapped again as the campaign progresses and to reintroduce herself to Hollywood — which largely abandoned her for Obama in 2008 — as a warmer, more approachable candidate.

So far, both efforts seem to be working for Clinton, 67, who raised a record $47.5 million during the second quarter, including $4 million from such L.A. donors as Tobey Maguire, Robert Iger,Harvey Weinstein, former ambassador (and wife of Netflix’s Ted Sarandos) Nicole Avant, Lionsgate’s Jon Feltheimer and Rob Friedman. CAA was particularly active, with more than 50 employees donating, including Kevin Huvane and new Clinton bundler Michael Kives. Even the pickiest Obama supporters have come away from Clinton’s events feeling better about her candidacy.

“Her performance at local events has created a nice progression in enthusiasm,” says Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon, one of Obama’s top fundraisers. “In the earliest days of this cycle, people were saying, ‘Well, she’s not that exciting.’ But I have heard it from others and have seen it myself: She’s really connecting with people.”

By law, Clinton is prohibited from holding big-dollar fundraisers (typically $33,400 a ticket via the DNC) until she wins the Democratic primary. But she is allowed to pack three ballrooms at The Beverly Hilton on one night, as Obama did in 2008. Instead, explains Solomon, “The campaign wants a long ramp-up” with additional smaller events. Strategist Lara Bergthold, who representsNorman Lear and Rob Reiner, says Clinton is giving those in Obama’s camp a new view: “People are getting really excited about her here.”

But Clinton’s meet-and-greet strategy presents a unique challenge: With Clinton unable to raise money for the DNC, Hollywood fundraisers are tasked with bringing in the big dollars, primarily through the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action and DNC events often hosted by Obama. A big push, independent of Clinton, is planned in Hollywood later this summer, largely for Priorities USA Action. Jeffrey Katzenberg and adviser Andy Spahn already have begun raising money for the PAC (Haim Saban reportedly has given the group $2 million.)

Until then, some moguls are enjoying playing politics on a budget. After all the complaints Tom Rothman made in the hacked Sony emails about being hit up for donations, he gave the max, $2,700, last quarter.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter

More from The Hollywood Reporter:


Martin O’Malley Trails Rivals in Fundraising with $2 Million Haul

Martin O'Malley, former governor of Maryland and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, pauses as he speaks to potential voters at a private residence in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, U.S., on Thursday, June 11, 2015.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Martin O'Malley, former governor of Maryland and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, pauses as he speaks to potential voters at a private residence in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, U.S., on Thursday, June 11, 2015.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has raised $2 million in the first month of his campaign, his campaign announced Wednesday, trailing far behind his rivals for the Democratic nomination in fundraising efforts.

The two-term governor’s campaign said Wednesday that its total haul through the end of the first quarter on June 30 was $2 million, averaging about $65,000 per day since he announced a month earlier.

“In his first 30 days as a candidate, Governor Martin O’Malley held 15 public events in Iowa and New Hampshire and raised $2 million for our grassroots campaign,” said Bill Hyers, the senior campaign strategist on the O’Malley campaign. “He is setting the standard on key issues like climate change, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and immigration by proposing bold, progressive ideas on how to rebuild the American Dream.”

O’Malley’s total haul reveals just how far he’ll have to go to win the nomination. A recent poll shows him with just 1% support in national polls, even as Sanders gains on Clinton.

O’Malley’s competitors for the Democratic nomination have far outpaced him in fundraising. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has raised $45 million, or well over $500,000 per day since launching her campaign in mid-April, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has brought in $15 million, or around $250,000 per day. Sanders raised $1.5 million in a single day of fundraising after announcing his campaign.


Celebs Rally Behind Hollywood Producer for His Daughters’ Rare Brain Disease

Children with the disease typically die between the ages of 6 and 12

Celebrities are helping producer Gordon Gray and his wife Kristen raise money in their quest to find a cure for their daughters’ rare brain disease. Four-year-old Charlotte and younger sister Gwenyth, 2, were diagnosed with the neurodegenerative Batten disease. Typically, children with the disease—the symptoms of which include blindness and the loss of mobility—die between the ages of 6 and 12.

A variety of celebrities, including Mia Hamm, Channing and Jenna Dewan Tatum, January Jones, and Dwayne Johnson have already posted the request for donations to social media. Johnson wrote: “I’ve never asked for donations, but this one’s very close to my heart.” According to Deadline, more celebrities are expected to post.

“You’re looking at your very healthy vibrant children, who are loving life right now, who could potentially lose all of that joy in a very short time,” Kristen says in the video celebs have been posting. “So we have a very short window to try and save them.” The couple is hoping to raise about $10 million dollars for Batten research.

Gray is the producer of sports films such as The Rookie, Miracle, and Million Dollar Arm.

TIME Kickstarter

Inventor Raises $120,000 for a Zombie-Fighting Tool on Kickstarter

Laura Natividad—Getty Images/Flickr RF

The invention has a few practical uses too

Americans have plenty to worry about these days, including terrorism, infectious diseases, to the specter of an 18-month-long presidential election.

But entrepreneurs can apparently move a whole bunch of units playing up fears of completely fictional dangers too. That has been inventor Marvin Weinberger’s strategy. He has raised more than $120,000 dollars in a Kickstarter campaign for his new product called the “Lil Trucker,” which he pitched to prospective investors in a video that shows the tool’s capacity to fight off a zombie invasion.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the tool is actually quite useful outside of a zombie combat scenario. The Lil Trucker weighs just 1.3 pounds, but comes loaded with features: “a glass breaker, folding saw, can opener, hatchet blade, hex wrench, pry, wedge, hook, hammer, nail puller, wire twist, gas valve wrench, spanner, and strap cutter.”

Despite the obvious practical uses for such a tool, Weinberg “thought that the tool itself needed something pretty sexy to market it,” according to the report.

Mission accomplished, Marvin.

TIME celebrities

Stephen Colbert Funds Every Teacher-Requested Grant in South Carolina Schools

Stephen Colbert attends the 2015 Monclair Film Festival, In Conversation With Richard Gere Hosted By Stephen Colbert at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, N.J. on May 2, 2015.
Paul Zimmerma—Getty Images Stephen Colbert attends the 2015 Monclair Film Festival, In Conversation With Richard Gere Hosted By Stephen Colbert at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, N.J. on May 2, 2015.

Colbert is helping to fund $800,000 worth of projects through Donorschoose.org

Stephen Colbert is giving back to teachers in his home state.

The comedian and future host of the Late Show announced Thursday that he will fund all grant requests made by South Carolina public school teachers on crowd-funding website Donorschoose.org. The generous gift will fund the projects of more than 800 teachers and cost Colbert, a South Carolina native, a total of $800,000, The Greenville News reports.

Colbert, who serves on the board of directors of Donorschoose, made the surprise announcement through a live stream broadcast at Alexander Elementary School in Greenville, South Carolina. In 2011, Colbert partnered with Jimmy Fallon to raise money for Donorschoose, and as a result the world got this glorious rendition of Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”

[The Greenville News]

TIME Bizarre

A Man Is Listening to 168 Hours of Nickelback for Charity

Celebrities Visit SiriusXM Studios - November 20, 2014
Monica Schipper—Getty Images Nickelback musicians, from left, Mike Kroeger, Daniel Adair, Chad Kroeger and Ryan Peake visit SiriusXM Studios in New York City on Nov. 20, 2014

Give generously

People are willing to do all sorts of humiliating, torturous and even downright dangerous things for a good cause.

Take podcaster Jesse Carey.

On Monday, Carey, from Relevant magazine’s podcast, began a self-imposed “ultimate test of endurance” when he started listening to the entire Nickelback catalog, on repeat, for the entire week — amounting to a total of 168 hours.

With the help of an organization called Charity: Water, Carey wanted to raise $10,000 to build a well in one of the developing nations supported by the group. The campaign has already topped $17,000.

“$10,000 is an incredible amount of money to raise. I mean it’s amazing, our average campaign raises about $1,000,” said Kaitlyn Jankowski, supporter-experience manager for Charity: Water, on last Friday’s podcast.

While the primary goal is to build the well, Carey thinks his endeavor may produce other positive side effects.

“I want someone who’s going through a hard time next week to be like, ‘Huh, I’m really down and out, life’s really got me down, but right now there’s a guy who’s been listening to Nickelback for days straight,’” he said on the podcast.

Right now it has been two days, and Carey is already showing signs of fatigue. Let’s hope he can power through:

“If you’ve got a better idea, I would have loved to have heard it two weeks ago,” he told his listeners last Friday.

MONEY Fundraising

Crowdfunding for a Good Cause Gets Cheaper

Ball picking up money
Getty Images Websites can help you turn small donations into a life-changing gift.

A growing number of sites will help you raise big money for a friend in need. But watch for high fees.

The week before Christmas, a fire gutted the Beverly, Massachusetts home shared by Kevin Wagner, his fiancée and their four young children. Most of their basic possessions were destroyed along with their Christmas presents.

While insurance will cover much of the rebuilding, friends stepped in right away with cash to fill the gap until the claim is settled. As is becoming more common these days, they started crowdfunding campaigns on popular sites—one on DreamFund.com, which holds money in an FDIC-insured savings account, and another on GoFundMe.com, which is linked to a personal bank account. Both sites collect a 5% fee from the donations and pass along a credit card processing fee of about 3%.

For the $25,000 Wagner’s friends raised on DreamFund, that amounts to $2,000, and another $800 went to GoFundMe and its credit card processors for the $10,000 raised on that platform.

A few people were put off after learning about the fees, Wagner says, and simply handed him checks, which added another $10,000 to the effort.

Nevertheless, raising money for personal causes through crowdfunding sites is a skyrocketing business—GoFundMe says such fundraising campaigns increased by 291% between 2013 and 2014, after rising by more than 500% the year before. But the fees make it clear the platforms themselves are, indeed, businesses rather than purely charitable efforts.

More than 2,000 crowdfunding sites have sprung up to try to catch the wave of this rapidly growing industry, says Howard Orloff, vice president of Zacks CF Research and founder of Crowdfunding-Website-Reviews.com. Of those, many are start-ups with little staying power and many are aimed at businesses seeking capital rather than personal causes. Some, like Kickstarter, one of the best known sites, don’t allow personal fundraising.

Regardless of type, the sites make money by taking a percentage of pledges, which results in either a donation being reduced when it reaches the recipient or a surcharge added to the donor so the recipient gets the net amount pledged.

But when it comes to raising money for charity, that may be changing.

On Dec. 15, popular crowdfunding site Indiegogo, which typically charges 4% to 9% (plus fees for PayPal or credit card processing), decided to drop the fee for personal fundraisers. Users of its new IndiegogoLife service only have to sacrifice the 3% taken by the credit card processors.

Indiegogo co-founder Danae Ringelmann says the company didn’t want those who were in need of charity to be subject to the same charges as those trying to launch a business.

“Every dollar counts—we’ve heard that again and again and again,” she says.

Dropping that platform fee is a “game-changer” in the world of crowdfunding, Orloff says. “Smaller sites [like YouCaring.com and Tilt.com] have offered no-fee crowdfunding for a while but none with website traffic, and public trust, anywhere near Indiegogo.”

By contrast, collecting the old-fashioned way—by accepting cash in person or checks to be deposited in a bank—usually involves no extra costs, although some banking fees may apply depending on the kind of account you choose.

But real-world collecting like that has limitations of reach, and not much possibility of the campaign going viral.

With crowdfunding, if the cause is popular enough to land on the home page of one of the more popular sites “it can go pretty wild,” Orloff says. “It can change somebody’s life.”

Indeed, the campaign to raise money for Wagner and his family went far beyond the $5,000 he imagined—the $50,000 raised so far may actually be more than they need.

“We didn’t expect this at all,” Wagner says. “If there is extra , we want to help others. We hope to pay it forward.”

TIME viral

#WAKEUPCALL Might Be The Next ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Celebrities are taking selfies of themselves waking up in the morning in the name of Syrian children

Since the unequivocal success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’s viral campaign—which sparked $100 million in donations in just two months—people have speculated what charitable cause would capture our hearts and wallets next.

Would it be a testicular cancer awareness group’s #FeelingNuts “crotch grab challenge“? While it picked up steam after Hugh Jackman, um, grabbed his crotch, it didn’t fully catch.

But now there’s another contender that might stand a chance at picking up the Ice Bucket Challenge’s baton. #WAKEUPCALL is the latest uber-sharable charity craze, and it consists of celebrities—primarily based in the UK—taking pictures of themselves waking up first thing in the morning.

But the hashtag isn’t only a medium for “I woke up like this” narcissism. Rather it is a call for people to “wake up” and donate to Unicef UK’s efforts to help Syrian children.

And, you know, show off a negligee.

#WAKEUPCALL has some elements working for it that might make it stick. First of all, it already has been adopted by celebrities, meaning that it will reach millions of fans wanting to replicate the trend. It is along the same lines of #NoMakeupSelfie, which raised money for cancer research in the UK. And, like the ice bucket challenge, it is seasonally appropriate. As the temperature drops, we’d much rather lull in bed than dump a bucket of ice water over our heads.

Let’s just hope that people lean towards the humorous rather than duckface.

TIME Jennifer Lawrence

Cancer Foundation Returns Cash From Redditors Who Saw JLaw Nudes

The donations came out of a crude joke about masturbation

The Prostate Cancer Foundation returned all money donated via a post on the website Reddit that was designed to make a joke about leaked naked images of Jennifer Lawrence and a slew of other famous women hacked from the women’s Apple iCloud accounts.

“We would never condone raising funds for cancer research in this manner. Out of respect for everyone involved and in keeping with our own standards, we are returning all donations that resulted from this post,” the foundation said in a statement Tuesday.

The pictures began making the rounds online on Sunday, after a host of celebrities’ personal Apple iCloud accounts were compromised. A Reddit user suggested Monday in a thread on the site that fellow Redditors who had viewed nude images of celebrities donate to prostate-cancer research in Lawrence’s honor. The crux of the intended joke is that Lawrence has supported fighting prostate cancer “in the past” because masturbation may help prevent the disease.

The fundraising drive raised more than $6,000 before it was shut down by the foundation.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com