ON-Lion Letter
Teddy Rist -- a globe-trotting corporate mogul who enjoys himself too much and respects women too little -- is an unlikely star for NBC's summer series The Philanthropist (Wednesdays, 10 Eastern/9 Central).  Yet, each week, played by James Purefoy, Rist transcends his self-indulgent life long enough to perform a charitable act in exotic settings, with all the brazenness and derring-do of a James Bond movie. 

In July, the Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., and The Chronicle of Philanthropy co-hosted a panel on what the professional world of philanthropy makes of The Philanthropist's version of its work.  Hudson senior fellow and Bradley Center director William A. Schambra moderated the panel.

The Philanthropist is the "television program philanthropy loves to hate," panelist Sean Stannard-Stockton of Ensemble Capital Management, a Chronicle columnist, had previously blogged on his TacticalPhilanthropy.com site.  Fellow panelist and Council on Foundations president and chief executive officer Steve Gunderson had protested that, contrary to Rist's, good philanthropy requires "a thoughtfully constructed course of action, a sound business plan, a record of achievement, and skilled staff."

But, as Schambra writes in a recent Chronicle op-ed, "Instead of scoffing at The Philanthropist, establishment philanthropy might pay attention to its underlying message.  For all our insistence that giving has become ever more complex, demanding, sophisticated, and professionalized, simply hiring experts to do it for us may not be enough to satisfy the human charitable impulse."

The panel also included the series' co-creator, executive producer, and writer Tom Fontana and Chronicle senior writer Ian Wilhelm.  A transcript of the discussion will be available online soon.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports the Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal.
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |