Film Industry Lobbyist Jack Valenti To Head New Group Aimed at Increasing U.S. Support for AIDS, TB, MalariaMotion Picture Association of America CEO and Chair Jack Valenti on Thursday is expected to announce that after leaving MPAA he will become president of a new Washington, D.C.-based not-for-profit group aimed at supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Wall Street Journal reports (Zimmerman, Wall Street Journal, 6/3). Friends of the Global Fight -- which was established by Ed Scott, a founder of the software company BEA Systems -- aims to mobilize U.S. lawmakers to "ensure appropriate financial resources" are allocated to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, according to a Friends of the Global Fight release. The group also plans to "take the message directly to Americans" to entice them to support the fight against the diseases through "concrete action," according to the release. The group already has produced a short film, titled "Hope to Fight For," that focuses on the challenges the three diseases pose, as well as the Global Fund's efforts to fight them (Friends of the Global Fight, 6/3). The film is narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks, according to the Journal (Wall Street Journal, 6/3). "In less than 10 minutes ... this film sums up the reason why I am involved and why Americans should be involved," Valenti said, adding, "We're going to take this film to Americans, from churches to schools, Capitol Hill and Hollywood, to show that there is hope to fight for in this great effort to turn the tide on global disease. And then we're going to give them an opportunity to participate, act and give" (Friends of the Global Fight release, 6/3).
Valenti, who is scheduled to screen the film at a reception to announce his new position that will be co-hosted by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), said, "People may not have heard of HIV, or even malaria or TB, but they've heard of Tom Hanks." According to the Journal, Hanks and others who worked on the film were not paid for their services. Scott, who also co-founded the debt, AIDS, trade advocacy group DATA and the Center for Global Development, said he hopes to make the Global Fund as recognizable as the March of Dimes, according to the Journal. Scott said, "If we can create that kind of consciousness, [i]t will be the easiest thing in the world for governments to support this effort." Valenti said his "most concrete goal" is to provide antiretroviral drugs to all HIV-positive people who need them, the Journal reports. He added, "You have to attach yourself to someone's emotions. When awareness is translated into fervor, then you get a campaign where people say, 'You're right, this is something you have to do'" (Wall Street Journal, 6/3).