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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 30, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 39
Betty White makes Lifeline Program 'white hot'
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Betty White makes Lifeline Program 'white hot'

by Joshua Miller - Special to the SGN

There is no question that Betty White is an icon in the Gay community. I don't even need to tell you what she is famous for.

Betty White has been working with the Lifeline Program for several years. Since 1989, the Lifeline Program has been at the leading edge of the growing life settlement industry. Founded in Cleveland, Ohio, the Lifeline Program began with a very simple mission: to assist terminally ill patients. Through a transaction called a viatical settlement, the company helped terminally ill patients (most suffered from AIDS) sell their life insurance policies for immediate cash. The transactions were classic win-win situations. The terminally ill patients received money to pay medical bills and were able to live out their lives with dignity.

Lifeline co-founder Stephen Terrell told us that finding the perfect spokesperson was easy. He immediately thought of Betty White - he is her biggest fan, not just because of her role on The Golden Girls, but because her personality makes her so trustable.

Terrell grew up in the country without a lot of friends and was bullied in school. Television (like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Brady Bunch, and The Partridge Family) filled a lot of his free time. Having posters of David Cassidy and Donny Osmond earned him his first Gay card, and he came out of the closet at the ripe old age of 14. He garnered most of his support from Gay hotlines like today's Trevor Project.

Terrell said, 'When I was a kid, you didn't think it could get better - but it does. Having come out in the '70s, I didn't have many role models to follow, so I had to go through a lot of painful years looking for me.'

He found his calling within the Lifeline Program. 'The company was created as a financial option for people with AIDS in the '90s. My business partner had a partner with AIDS and they could not afford his medical bills and keep food on the table - something had to give. When they had to decide whether or not to let a life insurance policy lapse versus pay it, he had the brilliant idea to ask friends to buy the policy at less then the face amount, leaving some money in the payout for them as interest on the investment. So an idea was born.'

Today, many medical advances later, HIV has become a more manageable condition rather than necessarily a terminal sentence. The Lifeline Program has restructured, offering the same service to seniors. Finally, financial freedom in their golden years!

This past week, Terrell and the Lifeline Program released a music video starring Luciana and featuring Betty White, two of today's hottest stars. The iconic role of Sue Ann that Betty played on The Mary Tyler Moore Show may have prepared her for the collaboration with Luciana on 'I'm Still Hot.'

Betty said, 'Sue Ann would definitely say she was still hot. She was one of the first hot girls on television. It's a great song and we're so glad that Luciana and Sony let us use it. I don't know if I'm still hot, but Luciana sure is, though I wasn't so happy with how skinny she is - I kept trying to feed her a sandwich! We had a wonderful time on the set and the song is catchy and fun.'

Terrell added, 'Betty is 'white hot' - she is still hot to me and most of the country, with a whole new fan base of kids enjoying her warmth and humor. At 89 and up for another Emmy with 64 years in the business, that's hot! For our company, I want to show seniors and baby boomers that age is just a number, and you can still be hot.'

Terrell wanted to have a project that the Lifeline Program could use to target a younger market, so he came up with the idea to create a viral video that captured Betty's sense of humor. 'YouTube is quickly becoming a major entertainment power, and sharing catchy videos on Facebook and Twitter is the avenue of communication,' he said. 'Bringing the video to life required a major team of talented and energetic people. I have to say, I am working with some of the best people I could find. When you put them all in the 'Betty bubble,' magic occurs. And you thought Glenda the Good Witch had powers - 'There's no place like Betty!'

Luciana and Betty seemed like an unlikely pair for the video, but it just makes sense! In fact, Luciana is a huge fan, and sources say she was brought to tears when she met Betty. Betty of course soothed her and they bonded immediately. On set it seems Betty may have bonded with some of the hunky models, as well.

Betty said, 'These boys were built like brick outhouses. I kept thinking, 'If I was 10 years younger&.' There was so much energy on the set, and while I told Steve at the end of the day that he could never get me to do it again & he knows I would.'

Terrell added, 'We put love drugs in the cheesecake, but that's our secret. There was an invisible force-field love bubble over Siren Studios on the days we shot the video. Everyone was crazy in love with each other. I don't know anybody who wanted to go home. I had to tell the Betty boys they were cut and none of them left for two more hours or so. I hated that - not.'

Joshua Miller: What was it like working with Luciana and those hunky men on set?

Betty White: Seeing all those hunky men and Luciana, I knew there wouldn't be a line at the craft services table. They were all so fit. One of the lines in the song is about cheesecake and we had plenty of it on the set, so I fed cheesecake to my beefcake!

Miller: Why do you think candidates should choose to use the Lifeline Program?

White: The boys at Lifeline really care about people and helping them pay for retirement. I'm lucky because I don't really worry about retirement. As long as I keep getting a chance to work, I'm going to show up on the set & and I might show up even if they don't ask me. I have learned that the Lifeline Program really cares about people. Even though a life settlement helps people financially, I know that Steve Terrell and the Lifeline Program family really care about helping people who need money for retirement.

Miller: Is there any advice you would give to Luciana on having longevity in the entertainment industry?

White: I would tell her to always be professional: learn your lines, be on time, and respect the business. But I would also say that she should always continue to have fun, which she does & and for goodness' sake, eat something!

Miller: Why do you think the LGBT community embraces and loves you so much?

White: Throughout my career, I've always portrayed characters that were humorous, but also weren't afraid to speak their minds, especially when it came to racy or controversial topics. I think this struck a chord with the LGBT community. We both also share a very strong love for animals. When you combine the two, it's a very strong match.

Miller: The world continuously sees you on TV/movies and every entertainment outlet possible. How do you keep your energy up and your body so fit?

White: Well, I'm certainly not built like those boys in the video or as skinny as Luciana, but I have always tried to stay fit, get my rest, and eat right. Everything is OK in moderation, and I have also been blessed with good genes.

The world premiere of Luciana and Betty White's 'I'm Still Hot' will take place at 7 p.m. on October 11. The song is available for purchase on iTunes, and a portion of the net proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Zoo. For Betty White video clips/downloads and more on the Lifeline Program, visit www.thelifeline.com.

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