Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Paul Newman Foundation President Nearly Doubled Salary in Four Years


Robert Forrester, CEO of Newman’s Own, Paul Newman’s charitable foundation, has nearly doubled his salary in the last four years. In 2010, the Foundation reported that Forrester earned $185,000. In 2013, Forrester took in $295,000. He’s gotten substantial raises ever since the 2010 filing– the first year he started reporting his salary as an individual line item on the Foundation’s Form 990. Up til then, for five years, he was lumping it in with entire Newmans Own staff, which was a little weird, to say the least.

This is all of interest because Vanity Fair’s Mark Seal has an excellent story this month about Newmans Own and complaints from Paul Newman’s daughter Susan about Forrester. Seal does a great job but for some reason he didn’t look into the actual numbers filed by Newmans Own in his story. I did.

Susan Newman may have a very solid complaint after all. Since her father’s death in 2008, Forrester has increased his own take, brought in other highly paid staffers, and even transitioned his accountant into a top paying salaried position at the Foundation. Total salaries of the top Newmans Own staff were listed at $1.4 million for 2013-almost three times what they were in 2009. Paul Newman, who wanted all the money from salad dressing and other products, to go to charity– would be shocked. And I can see why Susan Newman might be wondering what’s going on.

The continually increasing compensation for Newmans Own top staff also doesn’t look good in light of Forrester– according to Seal– closing the California rehab center named for Newman’s son Scott. That was the project closest to Paul Newman’s heart. Forrester, according to Seal, “defunded” the Center and it closed in 2013 after almost 30 years.

There’s certainly a lot of wonky looking accounting in the Newmans Own reports. In 2013, there’s an add on at the end that Forrester has been leasing office space to Newmans Own worth $30,000. The note says Newmans Own isn’t paying rent on it. That space may be in Farmington, Connecticut, far from Westport, where Newmans is headquartered. But Farmington is the address Forrester uses, as well as the accountant who went on staff, Robert Haggett. Haggett was paid $185,000 for what’s listed as 20 hours a week work. Forrester, for his $300,000, only lists a 30 hour work week.

Newmans Own nevertheless gives away millions of dollars to charity every year. But the Newman family certainly isn’t getting any of it, so don’t worry. And Seal carefully sidesteps the reason Joanne Woodward, Newman’s widow and famed, beloved actress doesn’t comment on the situation. Due to illness, she is unable to. She has no idea what’s going on.

I don’t know what will happen because of Seal’s story or my information that I’ve added here. But it does seem like it’s worth an internal investigation.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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