The famed Hollywood actor has called the theatre his first love. The grants are to help develop and produce new work for the theatre.
According to Peter Douglas, president of The Douglas Foundation, "This challenge grant will be active for the next ten years. For every $2 that CTG raises, the Foundation will add another $1. This has a potential of yielding up to $4 million to support new theatre."
"Theatre was always my first love," Douglas said in a statement. "In fact, when I came to Hollywood to make my first picture, I thought it was just a temporary detour. I would earn enough money to tide my family over only until my first long-run hit on Broadway. That never happened, and I soon resigned myself (believe me, it wasn't hard!) to being a movie star. My second-choice career gave my wife and me an opportunity to give a lot of money to the Center Theatre Group over the years, a joyous commitment of which we continue to be extremely proud."
The Douglases' relationship with CTG began with Anne Douglas, who was a longtime member of CTG's board of directors. In 2004, the couple donated $2.5 million to help transform the Culver Theater into the live theatre venue, the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Michael Douglas also contributed a $1 million capital gift in honor of his father for the project.
The first six seasons at this 317-seat house have yielded award-winning work and several plays and musicals that have moved to Broadway and Off-Broadway including the world premieres of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Wake, plus the revival of the classic Come Back, Little Sheba. A workshop of the musical 13 was held at the CTG/Kirk Douglas Theatre, after which the Douglases contributed $250,000 for the world premiere at the CTG/Mark Taper Forum. 13 also moved to Broadway. Douglas received Oscar nominations for "Champion," "The Bad and the Beautiful" and "Lust for Life" and a Lifetime Achievement Oscar "for 50 years as a moral and creative force in the motion picture community."