Cause Celeb

Can star power create social change?

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Celeb: Rob Reiner, film director/producer and Michael Stivic on “All in the Family”

Cause: Funding child development programs

What he’s done: Wrote and led the fight for Proposition 10, a successful 1998 ballot initiative to raise California cigarette taxes 50 cents per pack to fund such programs

What celeb gets: Serious political credibility and tangible achievements for a personal crusade

What cause gets: A steady flow of money — the tax hike might bring in up to $750 million a year.

Connection between celeb and cause: Reiner traces some of his own personality problems to his earliest years. This gives him an intense interest in early childhood development, where he thinks the most important help is given.

Chance celeb will humiliate cause: If it can stand constant press references to “Meathead,” very little. Reiner got props from the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Time, and London’s Financial Times, leaving both celebrity and cause basking in the warm glow of respect.

Actual results? Against the odds — Californians aren’t known to be eager to tax themselves — Reiner and crew pulled it off.

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We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

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That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

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