LOS ANGELES, February 9th, 2009 — Commemorating both a memorable movie moment and an inspiring real-life triumph, one of the shirt/suit/tie ensembles worn by Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in Focus Features’ Milk will be auctioned off to benefit both Variety – The Children’s Charity of Southern California and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, home of the Harvey Milk High School, in New York City. The Clothes Off Our Back Foundation will host the online auction of costume designer Danny Glicker’s specially created ensemble as seen in Gus Van Sant’s Milk, which is nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Costume Design. Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today.
The auction is underway at the Foundation’s site www.clothesoffourback.org and ends Saturday, February 28th. Bidding will start at $1,000. Proceeds from the auction will be divided equally, with 50% going to Variety and 50% going to the Hetrick-Martin Institute. The auction is for the shirt, suit and tie which Mr. Glicker and his department crafted to precisely match and re-create the ensemble worn by Mr. Milk on November 7th, 1978, the Election Night on which he celebrated the statewide defeat of Proposition 6, which sought to ban gays from teaching in California public schools and to remove known homosexuals and their supporters from their posts, and which Mr. Milk had fought so tirelessly against in the “No on 6” campaign.
The Clothes Off Our Back Foundation last year successfully hosted the online auction of Keira Knightley’s iconic green dress from Focus’ Atonement, the proceeds from which benefited Variety. In 2006, Focus also successfully auctioned off for charity two shirts memorably showcased in Brokeback Mountain.
Mr. Schamus said, “Harvey Milk’s civil rights legacy remains essential, and Sean’s performance and Gus’ movie have resonated so strongly in their own right with moviegoers. We’re pleased to provide a generous bidder the opportunity to own Danny’s ensemble, and proud that Variety and the Harvey Milk School will benefit, honoring Harvey’s own efforts to make a difference for and with future generations.
Milk is playing in theaters nationwide and beginning its run overseas. Harvey Milk, elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, became the first openly gay man to be voted into major public office in America. His victory was not just a victory for gay rights; he forged coalitions across the political spectrum. From senior citizens to union workers, Harvey Milk changed the very nature of what it means to be a fighter for human rights and became, before his untimely death in 1978, a hero for all Americans.
In Los Angeles, a display of Mr. Glicker’s work on Milk at the ArcLight Cinemas is open to the public and will remain on view until the end of the month. In addition to Best Picture, and Best Costume Design, Milk’s other Academy Award nominations are in the categories of Best Director (Mr. Van Sant), Best Actor (Mr. Penn), Best Supporting Actor (Josh Brolin), Best Original Screenplay (Dustin Lance Black), Best Film Editing (Elliot Graham), and Best Original Score (Danny Elfman). Each year, the entertainment and fashion communities come together for The Clothes Off Our Back Foundation, a 501c3 organization that hosts charity auctions showcasing today’s hottest celebrity attire. Items are put up for bid to the public with proceeds going to benefit children’s charities. Clothes Off Our Back was founded by actors and philanthropists Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle, Raising the Bar) and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) whose efforts, along with their celebrity and designer friends, have helped improve the lives of children across the globe. In addition to the Milk ensemble, Clothes Off Our Back is also currently auctioning celebrity clothing and accessories from the winter awards shows, designer red dresses created for The Heart Truth celebrity fashion show, and more.
Variety – The Children’s Charity of Southern California (www.varietysocal.org) is the local chapter of an expansive global network, Variety International – The Children’s Charity, that assists afflicted children in 14 nations who have nowhere else to turn. Since 1927, worldwide, Variety has raised over $1.5 billion to aid children with special needs. The Southern California chapter (Tent 25) was founded in 1941 as a nonprofit organization with the express mission to provide life-saving and life-enriching assistance to kids with special needs. In its 67 years of existence, the SoCal chapter has raised more than $60 million to help thousands of children. Variety prides itself on being able to modify its agenda in order to meet new trends and evolving conditions — addressing each case in a timely, impartial manner. Long considered the “Heart of Show Business,” Variety today continues its work with the help and support of caring men and women in the entertainment industry.
The Hetrick-Martin Institute (http://www.hmi.org), home of the Harvey Milk High School, is the largest and oldest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth-service provider supporting New York City’s most vulnerable and at-risk community. Hetrick-Martin provides a safe environment with year-round free services that are designed to place these young people in a nurturing environment, instill in them a strong sense of belonging, and provide them with the skills necessary to become thriving citizens in their community and obtain opportunities of a lifetime. Hetrick-Martin believes all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential. Hetrick-Martin creates this environment for LGBTQ youth between the ages of 12 and 21 and their families. Through a comprehensive package of direct services and referrals, Hetrick-Martin seeks to foster healthy youth development. Hetrick-Martin’s staff promotes excellence in the delivery of youth services and uses its expertise to create innovative programs that other organizations may use as models.
Focus Features and Focus Features International (www.filminfocus.com) together comprise a singular global company, dedicated to making original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world. The company operates as Focus Features domestically, and as Focus Features International (FFI) overseas.
Domestically, the Focus Features slate includes Milk; from LAIKA Entertainment, Henry Selick’s 3-D stop-motion animated feature Coraline, starring Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher; Cary Joji Fukunaga’s epic dramatic thriller Sin Nombre, winner of 2 awards at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival; writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control, starring Isaach De Bankolé; Away We Go, directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph; Shane Acker’s animated fantasy epic 9, starring Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly; Academy Award-winning writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen’s A Serious Man; and Taking Woodstock, the new film from Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee.
Focus Features and Focus Features International are part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.