In 1981, physicians at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), identified the first cases of “newly acquired immunodeficiency,” later called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS.
Eight years later in 1989, noting a continuing dearth of services and support for people with AIDS – and having been personally affected, losing friends of their own to the disease – a small group of determined Home Video Industry executives banded together to form a grassroots foundation, the non-profit Video Industry AIDS Action Committee (VIAAC), now known as Entertainment AIDS Alliance (EAA).
Marc Berman, a writer for Variety and Video Business, galvanized the effort. The Homestead Hospice & Shelter for AIDS patients in Hollywood, California, of which Marc was a board member, was being forced to close its doors due to financial problems. Enlisting friends and associates, Marc took action by organizing a fund-raising event that raised $15,000 for the organization which continues to serve the community today, and created the foundation for EAA.
Sadly, Marc passed away in 1993 from the effects of AIDS. But his efforts – and those of his friends and colleagues – have helped thousands of others. EAA has raised $5 million to date, providing funds to over 155 local and national organizations, which address the needs of people who live with HIV and AIDS.
- In 1994, EAA was inducted into the Variety Home Entertainment Hall of Fame. Listed among numerous industry luminaries, EAA is the first organization to receive this prestigious honor.
- In 1995, EAA established the Marc Berman Financial Assistance Program which distributes emergency assistance funds to individuals. The program is administered by Los Angeles-based Aid for AIDS.
- In 2012, EAA celebrated the 15th anniversary of its annual EAA Visionary Awards fundraiser as well as the 10th anniversary of its summertime Wine & Wisdom soiree — two lively events with a loyal and growing following.
- In 2016, EAA is merging two events — Wine & Wisdom and Visionary Awards — for the inaugural Wine Wisdom & Vision fundraiser, at a new location.
- EAA also annually raises funds through its Holiday Media Sale, its longest-running platform, and other activities such as sponsor-dedicated receptions and locally sponsored Legendary Bingo nights.