Saturday, April 20, 2024

Civil War at amFAR as Controversial Organization Turns Against Supporters in Power Grab


For years I’ve written about how crazy amFAR is. The organization started by Dr. Mathilde Krim and people like Elizabeth Taylor to raise research funds for AIDS was once all about saving people. Then it became about parties, celebrities, and exclusivity.

Now amFAR is having an open civil war and I’m not surprised. The crazy bunch who’ve slowly taken the group over is now attacking the two people who’ve kept the place going all these years– movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and retailer Kenneth Cole. Before this, the same people chucked out Sharon Stone, who’d literally put them on the map brandwise.

According to the New York Times, four board members are now battling Weinstein and Cole: Vincent Roberti, Mervyn Silverman, Arlen Andelson and Jonathan Canno. Their leader is said to be Roberti, a Connecticut developer and lobbyist who was acquitted in 1992 of burning down one his buildings. A 2012 Connecticut Post editorial described him as “a former Connecticut state representative, turned failed Bridgeport mayoral candidate, turned bankrupt developer, turned exonerated arson-for-insurance-scam suspect, turned big-time Washington, D.C., lobbyist and movie producer.” (His most recent entry on the imdb is a 2009 short film called “Asshole.”)

Add to that list Kevin Frost, the president of amFAR. You may remember Frost. He banned me from all amFAR events after I revealed that the organization paid Madonna’s charity, Raising Malawi, $1 million for her appearance at in 2010. (Madonna had never given a penny to amFAR previously and hasn’t since then either.) Frost didn’t like it either when I exposed his poor treatment of Stone, who’d valiantly led their annual auctions in Cannes to millions of dollars. She was ousted unceremoniously.

This gang had better be careful. They are not the simple but organized Elton John AIDS Foundation. (It should be noted that both Sir Elton and the late Elizabeth Taylor broke away from amFAR years ago and started their own foundations after amFAR was taken over by the current regime.) Weinstein and Cole are amFAR’s two most prominent goodwill ambassadors in the celebrity world Frost, et al. covet. So was Stone. Without them, amFAR as it works now would have a very empty tent come the annual Cannes fundraiser.


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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