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'Royal Pains' star Mark Feuerstein and castmates help raise funds for Commack charity
Starring as the Hamptons-based doctor Hank Lawson on USA Network’s “Royal Pains,” actor Mark Feuerstein finds himself making leaps and bounds to care for patients in unusual situations week after week.
Off-screen, at a charity fundraiser in Commack Saturday evening, Feuerstein, like his television counterpart, also took the time to give to others.
Feuerstein and “Royal Pains” castmates Ben Shenkman (Dr. Jeremiah Sacani) and Michael B. Silver (Leo Cohen) took audience questions at a fundraiser at the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Commack to benefit the center’s Kamp Hope, an outreach program for children who have a parent diagnosed with cancer.
“In most episodes of the show, we deal with situations where the characters are remedied by the end of an episode,” Feuerstein said. “We don’t deal with cancer on ‘Royal Pains’ because it does not fit that model. It is a situation that is ongoing. We are thrilled to participate in something that in some way helps families that are dealing with it.”
More than 200 fans attended the fundraiser, which began with an hourlong reception with the cast. Geri Berlatt, of Stony Brook, came with friends who tune in together each week to watch the show, which is currently in its fifth season.
“It is just a wonderful, wholesome show and I always love to see Long Island [in the background],” said Berlatt, 63.
Set in locations across the Hamptons, the series has also filmed scenes at places such as Huntington’s Oheka Castle and the Old Westbury Gardens. While the first season was heavily filmed on the South Fork, Feuerstein said it has since been shooting more at Long Island venues closer to the city due to budget constraints.
“Where we are tonight is ‘Royal Pains’ central,” Feuerstein said of the area near Commack. "Exits 30 to 50 of the LIE are our Hamptons.”
The actors touched on a range of topics -- from the their Jewish faith to each of their starts in show business -- before opening up the program to questions from the audience.
The evening, which was the first fundraiser for Kamp Hope, raised around $10,000 through ticket sales, program organizers said. Diane Zamansky, Kamp Hope development director, said the funds will go toward sponsoring year-round activities for the new program, which will begin hosting sessions in October.
Through Kamp Hope, Zamansky said children will be able to meet other children going through similar circumstances during outings such as pumpkin picking trips and skating parties. These sessions and a two-week summer camp, which will be held next summer at Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds in Wheatley Heights, will be led by a specially trained team of professionals.
Run by the Suffolk Y JCC, the program was started by its executive director Adam Bendeson. Bendeson said he first realized the need for the type of program seven years ago when his wife was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. At the time, Bendeson’s three children were ages 4, 5 and 10 and he wanted them to be able to understand that there are other kids in similar situations.
Unable to find the kind of support group he wanted, he vowed that when the time was right he would do something to change that.
Last month, Kamp Hope sent out its first proposal and began soliciting donations. The program has raised more than $40,000 so far, Zamansky said.
“It is our goal to make sure that a population out here on Long Island get some services that they have needed for quite some time,” Bendeson said.
Feuerstein said he was happy to help a cause that would benefit the area where he spends so much of his time.
"I think that Kamp Hope sounds like a great thing," he said. "To help families dealing with cancer find other families to support them is wonderful."