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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Tonight's the Night to Thank Industry Leaders Who Have Gone the Extra Mile to Raise Money to Fight AIDS

21 Sep, 2000 By: Thomas K. Arnold

In what has been one of the tumultuous weeks in home video history--Ron Berger bounced off Rentrak's board, Video Update filing for bankruptcy report and a new Kagan report that concludes video rental is a "dying business"--we finally have something upbeat to report.

Tonight is the annual Video Industry AIDS Action Campaign (VIACC) award dinner, in which the home video industry honors members of its own ranks who have given selflessly over the years to help combat one of the most terrible and deadly diseases known to man.

This year's Visionaries have all gone above and beyond the call of duty in their efforts to raise money to fight AIDS, and we all need to take a moment to thank them for what they've done.

The honories are Michael Becker, owner of the Video Room in New York City; Steve Beeks, president of Artisan Home Entertainment; Martin Greenwald, president, c.e.o. and board chairman of Image Entertainment; Anthony Lynn, the head of the Playboy Entertainment Group; Monterey Media's Jere Rae-Mansfield, a longtime executive with VIACC (this year, she's treasurer) who has probably done more to solicit donations than anyone; Deborah Sleezer, assistant to Playboy Entertainment Group executive v.p. (and VIACC president) Jeff Jenest; and Tom Rooney, sales manager for Panasonic Disc Services' Entertainment Group.

I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb when I say we've all known someone, or of someone, who has succumbed to AIDS. Given the tough times home video is having, it's easy to focus on the problems of the present and forget bigger problems outside the business.

But these leaders have all taken the time to go the extra mile on behalf of AIDS fundraising, and for that we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.

Looking at what they've done--from Mike Becker collecting signatures from celebrity customers of his video store to be auctioned off, to Deborah Sleezer working side-by-side with her boss, Jeff Jenest, in contacting AIDS service organizations to requalify them for grants and then sending out grant money to beneficiaries--I, for one, feel a little ashamed.

These people work as hard as I do, if not harder. And yet they've taken the time to help those less fortunate than we are, and found the time to contribute to a much greater cause in the overall scheme of humanity.

I know I'm going to see what I can do in the future to help out with this worthy cause. I hope you will, as well.

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