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'The Philanthropist': Going, Going, Gone?

October 29, 2009

Philanthropist_purefoy Back in July, we ran a nice piece by Diana Campoamor, president of Hispanics in Philanthropy, about NBC's summer replacement series The Philanthropist. Over the course of eight episodes, the show, which featured a hard-partying, skirt-chasing businessman-cum-philanthropist by the name of Teddy Rist (played by James Purefoy), provided viewers with a whirlwind tour of (and brief history lessons about) some of the poorest and most conflict-ridden places on earth.

It also rubbed some people in philanthropy the wrong way. Campoamor wasn't one of them. In her piece, she made the point that

for the first time in recent pop culture history, a depiction of someone who calls himself a philanthropist (until recently, one of the most boring words in our language to most people), will have a chance to enter our homes and make us all aware of the need for the truly lived, philanthropy-centered life. That in itself is a big accomplishment....

Now, two fans of the show, Deborah Brancheau and Tamara Rudorfer, are trying to use the Causes application in Facebook to save the show from cancellation and, in the process, generate some donations through America's Giving Challenge for Human Rights Watch, the U.S.-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting and promoting human rights around the world.

According to the two women, the show is a great example of how capitalism and philanthropy can coexist and work together to solve tough social and economic problems in war-torn and poverty-stricken regions.

(You can watch all eight episodes of season one, with limited commercial interruptions, on Hulu through September 10, 2010.)

Brancheau and Rudorfer are asking supporters of the show -- and of human rights in general -- to:

  1. Become members of "Save 'The Philanthropist' Through Charity" cause by visiting: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/380724.
  2. Make a donation to the cause. The money will go directly to Human Rights Watch. If you have questions about how donations are handled check out:
  3. http://apps.facebook.com/causes/help?category=Donation+questions.
    Urge the president of primetime entertainment at NBC to reverse the decision to cancel The Philanthropist by following the directions outlined on their Cause page: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/actions/2241?cause_id=380724.

I don't know about you, but I think this might be a cause worth supporting. Sure the show was glitzy and over the top, but how many prime-time network dramas deal seriously (and often compellingly) with things like ethnic cleansing, child slavery and sex trafficking, and desperate poverty? How many mention, let alone try to understand, countries and places such as Myanmar, Kosovo (my favorite), Kashmir, and Haiti? ("None" is the correct answer.)

America's Giving Challenge ends November 6, but Brancheau and Rudorfer vow to continue their efforts on behalf of the show beyond that date. We wish them luck.

-- Mitch Nauffts

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