Giving Back: Philanthropy

Michael became increasingly involved in assisting artists on a wide range of environmental issues, volunteering his time. Michael worked with the Cheers cast in successfully protesting the aerial spraying of the pesticide malathion; Meryl Streep and The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in fighting children pesticide exposure to Alar; and appearing on the Phil Donahue Show with Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley and Gray Davis concerning the BP oil spill.

This expanded scope of environmental work resulted in Michael co-founding and serving on the Board of The Earth Communications Office (ECO).

ECO is a coalition of actors, musicians, directors, producers and writers dedicated to getting environmental messages into the media. Contributing members have included Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Ed Begley, Jr., Meg Ryan, John Ritter, Michael Keaton, Tom Cruise and many more. ECO was also dedicated to educating its artists on environmental issues. In this regard, ECO organized an ECO/ Smithsonian trek to the Brazilian rainforest and a Smithsonian research camp: Camp 41 led by world-renowned rainforest authority, Doctor Thomas Lovejoy. Bruce Babbitt, Michael Fuchs, Deborah Hill, John Ritter, Scott Mednick, Tom Cruise were among those with Michael on the excursion. They witnessed the wanton environmental destruction of nature and indigenous peoples’ habitat; as well as seeing potential solutions for the same. This trip deeply moved and inspired each of its members in their commitment to the environment.

Cruise and Wisner Amazon: Smithsonian Camp 41

Cruise and Wisner Amazon: Smithsonian Camp 41

ECO produced the Anniversary of Earth Day on the Washington, D.C. Mall. Woody Harrelson, The Indigo Girls, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Senator Al Gore, John Denver, Richard Gere and many more dedicated artists led a celebration that over 600,000 people attended. Tom Cruise hosted and delivered a keynote address. It was working with Tom on this address where Michael first assisted and worked in speechwriting.

 

Cesar Chavez’s funeral

Cesar Chavez’s funeral

Michael worked with Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers (UFW) and their tireless Medical Director, Marion Moses, MD on the amelioration of the toxic effects of pesticides on migrant farm workers. Michael was privileged to serve as one Cesar’s pall bearers at his funeral and has maintained his membership in the UFW for decades.