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« The Truth About the School Situation ~ Two Expelled, Not Suspended | Main | What It Was Like Inside the Corn Maze Sat.10/30/10 »

Interview with Eric Roberts ~ Gosselins, Reality TV, & More

Monday a sharp-eyed reader informed me of a tweet by actor Eric Roberts, about Kate Gosselin.  It read:

I know she's fading from the news, but hopefully someone's still got their eye on the well being of her kids. Kate Gosselin is a child abuser.” (11:17 PM Oct 31st via web)

I met Eric and his lovely wife Eliza years ago, briefly,  at a red carpet event in NYC and he seemed very nice.  He wasn't one of those celebs who didn't want to mingle with the Little People.  He was as courteous and respectful of those of us working the event as the "talent"  who were there to be celebrated.  Based on this brief impression of him, I decided to email him and see if he would be willing to be interviewed about his tweet.   Eric was in Europe but was game, so I sent him some questions and he responded via email.  The following is our interview. 

Small Town Gosselins:  Your tweet about Kate Gosselin was quite passionate. What exactly precipitated it?

 Eric:  Simple, really. Thank goodness there is footage of Gosselin hitting her kids, and apparently feeling fine about it. I say thank goodness, because behind closed doors makes it that much tougher to stop.   All I ask is that any caring parent or non-parent take a few minutes to read material from Alice Miller's FOR YOUR OWN GOOD, or visit this site, or listen to the audio book THE NATURAL CHILD, or review materials from Prevent Child Abuse America and then decide. 

STG:  The Gosselin children have literally grown up in front of the cameras, with private moments such as having their diapers changed, tantrums and vomiting being displayed for entertainment. These moments will be available to anyone for the rest of their lives in medium such as YouTube and DVDs. You have been in the public eye for many years and have had your own ups and downs, along with all the usual public commentary. How do you think the public display of their lives is impacting the Gosselin kids or may impact them in the future?

Eric:  This trend to document life as it happens, and to have the documentation studied by strangers, is not going away any time soon.   I don't think it's inherently bad. I think the Gosselin kids' private lives are their problem, not the fact that their private lives are public.  They have an awful mother, and a father who doesn't stop her. 

STG: TLC states that it has earned $200 million in the past five years from Gosselin-related shows. TV Guide reports that Kate Gosselin is paid $250,000 per episode. The eight children split 15% of that income, so each child gets 1.875% while the mother gets 85%. Comments?

Eric:  The number of kids Kate and Jon have are the reason Kate and John have money.  It would be awful if financial stress was added to those kids' problems.  But the money should be divided 10 ways. 

STG: According to IMDB, your daughter Emma has been acting since the age of nine. Did you sign contracts on her behalf and if so, what safeguards did you insist upon in order to ensure her safety and fair treatment?

Eric:  Never signed a contract on Emma's behalf.  Her mother and her manager handle her career.  Emma is extremely fortunate to be successful at such a joyous job. 

STG: In dealing with acting contracts involving your daughter, have you ever had the right to stop the filming and take back your authorization of consent if the production involved scripts or activities that you hadn't anticipated and felt were inappropriate for your child (like the old script switcheroo, for example)?

Eric:   I'm sure the parents of some working minors have those rights, and hopefully those parents know the business and know the needs of their kids.

STG:  The parents whose children participated in the reality TV show Kid Nation signed contracts stating that the producers would not be responsible in the event of their children dying as a result of being on the show. In your experience, how common is it for parents to neglect carefully reading the fine print before signing acting contracts involving their children?

Eric:  I think some parents know what they're signing and some don't .  Most have lawyers who know these contracts quite well.  People who are popular with audiences are considered commodities and products.  There are death clauses in most management, label and studio contracts. 

STG:  The film Bruno has a scene where real parents agree to have their babies be in all sorts of outrageous dangerous situations, just so they can possibly become stars. Some people seem to think that almost anything would be worth having their children be stars. Why do you think this is?

Eric:  People equate fame with immortality. That's as ridiculous as equating anything else with immortality. There is no immortally.      I think endangering a child is an obscene crime. 

STG:  A Minor Consideration, the group advocating for children in entertainment which boasts over 600 former child star members, is working on drafting a national bill to end the federal child labor exemption for child actors. As an adult actor you have unions and laws to protect you. What do you think about legislation that would put similar laws into place for children?

Eric:  I love what Paul Petersen does. 

STG:  Are you a member of A Minor Consideration, and if not, good grief, why not?

Eric:  I'd like to be.  Thank you for reminding me!

STG:  About Reality TV. All actors experience the challenge of being confused with their characters, but this is especially true with reality TV participants. In reality, Reality TV characters are sometimes created by the producers eliciting certain responses, setting up fake scenes to create drama, and of course the magic of editing. I worry about how this might impact children who are too young and immature to understand differences between acting and reality. What are your thoughts on this?

Eric:  I do think this is unfair to children, as they are not fully willing participants.  But kids are not fully willing participants in anything during childhood. 

STG:   Over the summer you filmed the VH1 show “Celebrity Rehab.” Just how real was your reality TV experience?

Eric:   Pretty real. 

STG:  As a society we want to believe that all parents have their children's best interests at heart, but many of us know that unfortunately this is not always the case. You have probably been exposed to all sorts of stage parents over the years. How common is it for parents to overlook their children's best interests in the field of entertainment, in your experience? (For example, allowing their children to be exposed to adult situations, having their children work when they don't want to, not ensuring their children will be adequately financially compensated upon reaching adulthood, not allowing their children to have normal childhood experiences because they are too busy acting, having the children be financially responsible for supporting the family, etc.)

Eric:  Most parents love their children very much, just not very well.  The home is an unregulated place to work.  This should change. Parenting should be earned and licensed.  Violence, emotional or physical, against or around a child or an animal (or anyone) should be a one-strike situation.  Kind people have to step up to take care of the children who are being raised by unkind people. 

STG:  I have always had the impression that the prevalence of addiction and child abuse is higher in former child stars than in the general population (and we know they're epidemic in the general population.) Have you found this to be true? Why do you think this is the case?

Eric:  On my website, there are some of my thoughts about that.    Quote:  I think people who are drawn to acting and music tend to be very emotional, and people who are emotional tend to be easily intoxicated by intoxication of all kinds...including love. 

STG:  I have a theory that being a child star imposes codependency on children because it forces them to think about how they can be marketable rather than allowing them to naturally become their own authentic selves the way other children are allowed to. It forces an unnatural self-consciousness that is necessary for financial success. Thoughts?

Eric:  Well-Said and very valid!

STG:  Jon Gosselin has stated emphatically that he does not want his children to be filmed anymore, that they have said they don't want to do it, and that they are now having behavioral problems as a result of having grown up in front of the cameras. Yet Kate Gosselin refuses to stop the filming. What do you think this is all about?

Eric:  I think Jon is being unrealistic. How is that family going to live?

The kids could have a great time doing the show if their mom wasn't a cruel horror who is clearly repeating generational abuse.  Jon's got his eye on the wrong ball.  The kids, however, should not be forced to do anything. 

STG:  Do you feel differently about the Kate Gosselin than you do other reality TV parents, and if so, why?

Eric: Can't stand Kate. Most of the other reality TV parents seem gentle and loving.  I have a feeling David Charvet's wife, Brooke, isn't all that nice either, unfortunately. 

STG:  What advice would you give Kate Gosselin, and why?

Eric:  My advice to Kate Gosselin would be to get out of denial and receive anger management with Dr. Richard Green in Woodland Hills, California.   Next time she feels herself lifting a hand to harm one of her children, she should instead make a call to her local 12-step program. Those programs help with patterns of violence, among the more expected things they treat. 

STG:  What advice would you give her children?

Eric:  I would want the Gosselin kids to know that their parents' rage is not their fault, and to please do therapy to keep themselves from continuing the pattern. 

STG:  Advice to Jon?

Eric:  Make a legally binding arrangement whereby Kate loses her financial security any time she hits those kids.  She's playing the role of good mom. When she stops playing the role as it's written, she should be fired. 

STG:  Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview. We actually met briefly several years ago at a red carpet event at Radio City Music Hall and I always remembered how nice you were. I appreciate your sharing your thoughts for my readers today. It has been a pleasure interviewing you and I wish you and your family the best of everything.

Eric:  Thanks for asking!  Important subject.

Be well,


 *     *     *

One of Eric's views is that the show is the lesser problem and insensitivity to the children and their needs is the larger issue.   Yet when children in entertainment are managed by insensitive parents who are dependent on those children for their livelihood, can those issues be separated out?   I look forward to your comments on that as well as your other observations.

~Special thanks to Cindy Leong, Eric Roberts and Eliza Simons for making this interview possible.~

Reader Comments (94)

I have also hoped Jon would get a job an help support the children in a quiet way.

Maybe he has. "In a quiet way" would mean not announcing it to you.

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFenwick

Excellent! Thank you very much to Mr. Roberts and to you, Werny gal for asking the questions and posting the interview.

I feel the way I think Mr. Roberts does. That it is going to be very dangerous for the Gosselin kids when cameras are no longer documenting their Mother's behavior; and she is not overseen by TLC officials. When the money runs dry and the nanny is gone...those kids will be frightfully abused by that woman, called their Mother.

Mr. Roberts gave Kate and TLC wonderful advice; for Kate to receive anger management help. Kate could again be a star, and TLC would have a huge hit on their hands, if they would film THAT reality show. Let Kate exploit herself and her own problems for a change.

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Hoyt

Anne said, "He says her physically beating the kids is captured on film?"
Anne, I don't think Eric used the word "beating." Abuse takes many forms and does not have to be beatings in order to harm children. My readers and I had a discussion about this in September and you can read at the link below to see some of the incidents that were not beatings, but were considered serious enough to note during the discussion. The accumulation of all of these events is much more potent that each of them are individually, and these are only some of the events observed by average viewers outside the home. If these conditions are considered acceptable and are a normal way of life outside the home, what do you imagine it could be like inside the home, behind closed doors?

I give more examples and address the psychological aspects of being in reality TV on children in the chapter I contributed to the Al Walentis book, The Secret World of Jon and Kate: The Stupidest Story in the History of the Universe and the People Who Covered It, which can be found in the link to the right. (Look for the green book link on the upper right hand column.)

November 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterWerny Gal

What a great, thought-provoking interview, Werny. I am so pleased to see that other Hollywood stars are speaking out, in support of "A Minor Consideration". Mr. Roberts should be commended for taking the time out from his busy schedule (I understand he's been in Europe), to address our concerns in regard to the Gosselins, and parental abuse.

I will certainly visit the websites he listed, and become more familiar with his cause.

Thank you, Eric!

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristine

Apparently I and my regular readers weren't the only ones not tuning in last night. Jon didn't watch either, according to this article. I can't imagine how frustrating it would be to have one's kids on a fictional happy-wappy show when you have seen that it is hurting them and your ex refuses to stop filming. Besides the fact that it's fiction and therefore not like really watching his kids, he's shared legitimate concerns about what growing up on camera has done to his children. If I were him I wouldn't be able to watch it either.

November 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterWerny Gal

Hi WG, just popping out of lurkdom to let you know that your interview with Mr. Roberts was picked up by ROL.

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterN.E. Psychologist

Yes, my hits have gone through the roof and it has been picked up by dozens of news outlets. I think it was very brave of Eric Roberts to express himself about this in this public forum. The great thing is that the response is overwhelmingly positive and people are hearing that these concerns stem not from a dislike of either parent but out of genuine concern for the children. As far as I'm concerned, anything that raises awareness and gets the news out there about child abuse, the better. I'm all about turning rotten lemons into zesty lemonade and I'm really pleased to be a part of this example of that.

November 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterWerny Gal

Dear Werny: Just watched the "trick" that Steve pulled on Kate on ROL, placing a ring of gold for one of the children to find. SHE PLACED IT ON HER WEDDING FINGER!
Wonder how Gina feels about this little tidbit? Are we all being sold a bill of goods?
As I said before, something is definitely amiss here. What wife would want this filmed?
Either Steve and Gina have an open marriage or someone here needs to wake up and
smell the roses/snow balls.

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Great job on this interview, It is now everywhere on the internet drawing maximum attention to this sick, twisted Child Abuser. Some people say that Eric Roberts is no poster child for best behavior - I don't care. I do believe he knows dysfunction and abuse when he sees it and I appreciate his calling her out. I also want to comment on that fact that some people are upset that Eric did not seem to see the harm in filming those kids. Eric is an actor - his whole family are actors. It is their profession by choice and by talent. Being in front of cameras are normal for them. I do not feel Eric has anywhere near the degree of background information or history on the Gosselin's or their profoundly disturbing lifestyle like us who have been following their antics for years and that is why he did not address the filming in a way that many posters everywhere would have preferred. I do think this interview was immensely powerful and shines a huge spotlight on Take as a Child Abuser, which, from now on, there is NO escape for her. Thanks, again, WG. Great job and you are to be commended!! Kudos!!

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMerette

I agree Lynn, that's bizarre. If it's a marriage it is certainly an unconventional one.

Thanks Merette, it has been quite a day. It would be totally great if it weren't about such a sad thing, right? But a bittersweet victory is better than no victory at all. My blog has had over 10,000 hits just today so far and I know somewhere out there someone learned something and a little more awareness was spread.

November 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterWerny Gal

"Freedom" said: I just don't feel like I can judge a person's life or tell them how to raise their children. I don't have to get it, this is a free country.

What many people mistake for "judging or bullying" is actually having discernment about a person and/or situation. If you don't have discernment about people or situations in life, you will likely find yourself in numerous situations or relationships that are very unpleasant and destructive.

If one is to understand your position, "Freedom", parents should be able to do whatever they want with and to their children and nobody should question them, right? So you would be OK if a parent were to have sex with or molest their own child? You would say it's OK for a parent to beat their child to the point of leaving visible bruising or scars? By your theory, you are saying it's OK for a parent to allow their 7 year old to drink beer and smoke pot? Come's a free country. Stop judging me or bullying me just because I want to molest my kid or beat my kid. How I raise my child is my business.

Please tell me this is not what you are saying.

Can you see what I mean about discernment? It's not judging or bullying if you suspect someone is being abusive. If someone has all of the signs of being an abuser, it's not judging or bullying, it's having discernment about one's character. And just because you choose not to see the signs that Kate is an abuser, doesn't make it NOT true. Anyone with a brain can tell she's an abuser. But...according to your standards...that's her business and how she raises her kids is her business. Even if she's abusing them - whether verbally or physically.

I would love to know how many people out there who were abused as children would have given anything to have had a discerning adult come in and pull them out of that abusive sitatuion and get their parent and their family the help they needed. I'm betting it's 100% of the people. But...according to your view "Freedom", people need to mind their own business and let parents do whatever they wish with their children.

In reference to your comment about Jon working to support them in a "quiet way" - a couple of comments:

1. If he were do it quietly and disappear into the woodwork, why would we know about it?
2. Why does Jon have to work in a "quiet way" and Kate can't do the same? Why can't she go back to a "quiet", normal, average working life as a nurse to help support her kids? Why does it have to be just Jon that does things "quietly", but she's not held to the same standard?

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Your comment was thoughtful, profound and I agree with you. Actually, there are so many really excellent comments in this thread. Last night when I was reading them before bed I noticed several. WG sure does attract a very high caliber of commenters. PamelaJaye your comment from yesterday about dealing with your personal experiences with anger/rage were so real it was palpable. This is a very special community that has gathered here. I don't post very much anymore but I read here everday and feel sympatico with all of you here.

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNancyB

Knowing said: Eric Roberts is a known child abuser. He has huge anger issues. So, it's not a very credible interview.
I don't know enough about Mr. Roberts to agree or disagree with your statement about him being an abuser. I'll assume you know this to be true and if it is true, I would say it actually gives him MORE credibility - the statement "takes one to know one" comes to mind. If he is in fact a child abuser or former child abuser, then maybe he's much more sensitive to other abusers and can spot their traits much more quickly.

And let me also say that while I am glad Mr. Roberts spoke up about Kate, I disagreed with many of the things he said. He wants to know how this family will survive if the show goes away. Like every other family in this country - with 2 working parents. Kate is a nurse and Jon has IT experience. They could both return to the private sector and work to support these kids. He also thinks there should be a contract that would take away Kate's financial security if she abuses her kids. Abuse can be difficult to detect because there is shame and fear attached to it. Most kids aren't just going to go around announcing that they are being abused. Most of the time, the abuser has put a lot of fear into the child so they are afraid to speak up. Just because it's hard to detect, doesn't mean it's hard to discern that it's happening. There is a difference between the two.

Once again, people want to take the focus of the real issues with Kate and shift them to someone else. Let's discredit the accuser and blame the accused to get the attention of the abuser.

We all have an inner voice that alerts us when something just is not right and we need to listen when something feels off. I call it discernment. It's our internal warning system that helps protect us from destructive people and relationships. It's not judging or bullying or bashing when we listen to our inner voice - it's being discerning and protecting ourselves from people who want to harm us.

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

GREAT post Heather, and ITA. I've always been annoyed with the "who are you to judge" comment. Judging is human nature and is often the only way we humans can differentiate between right and wrong. A one time incident of really bad behavior doesn't make someone a bad person . Repeated selfish, greedy, nasty , abusive behavior does say a lot about a person's character, or lack thereof. Interestingly, the people who often use the "who are you to judge" trump card are usually just pissed that he/she is being called out on his/her bad behavior.

Freedom, ever heard of the song "What's the Matter Here?" by 10,000 Maniacs ?

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLordy Bee

From an article on the truth about Reality TV:

"If you had the power, are there reality shows that are currently on that you'd like to take off the air?"

"As much as I have problems with 'The Bachelor', I wouldn't call for censorship. But if you gave me a magic wand, and I could just zap off the air any shows that I wanted it would be 'Toddlers & Tiaras' and 'Little Miss Perfect' and that whole genre of baby beauty pageant shows."

"And it would also be the 'Jon & Kate Plus 8' -style shows that have kids growing up on camera and flout SAG rules that protect child actors. These kids get exploited psychologically and in terms of labor."

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCJ

As to Jon not watching the show on Sunday, I would think it would be kind of painful watching Steve play "Daddy" to his kids on national TV. :/

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLancasterCountyMom

Eric Roberts is right...Kate Gosselin is a child abuser. She let her guard down that one time when we saw her assaulting one of the girl tups in front of her home simply for blowing a whistle...Lord knows what happens behind closed doors. We've seen her approach the children with wooden spoons, cardboard rolls..and with her hand up in a threatening manner. The children cringe when she comes at them and that is NOT NORMAL.

TLC is going to find themselves on the receiving end of a huge law suit some day...they know more than they are letting on about what happens in that house.

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

Great interview and Eric has the insights on what it feels like to be top of the world to the bottom of a barrel. Don't forget he was a hot commodity with Mickey Rourke and they both fell to the depths of hell. He was literally Julia's big brother for a very long time until he got sober and established himself again on Suddenly Susan. Sorry to hear that he fell off the wagon again, but at least he realizes he has issues and seeking help unlike a certain drama queen without any real talents to boast except "Entitlement". As to how the Gosselins will support themselves, do what the most Americans did to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Get a job and cut back.

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSam

As to Jon not watching the show on Sunday, I would think it would be kind of painful watching Steve play "Daddy" to his kids on national TV. :/


And also watching K8 play "Mommy" ........

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLordy Bee

I enjoy reading the comments here and seldom feel the need to submit my own because one of you has already said what I might say, but better. If I try to isolate why Kate aggravates me so much it would be because she is just so about HERSELF! If she didn't have 8 impressionable children, she would be simply annoying. But, since she chose to be the mother of multiple children, she needed to step up her nuturing game. She is the most tired, the most overworked, the most put upon...on and on in a thought process that makes her the center of everything. The children orbit around her ego. She responds much like an immature teen age girl who hasn't yet learned restraint or responsibility. I stopped watching the show before this season began. But, that small effort won't help those children.

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaryAnn

Hello all, first time poster longer time lurker!

I find it very interesting that people say if you don't know Kate or the kids personally, you can't say she's an abuser, and that she's a great mom to the kids. Well, if those posters don't know Kate personally how can they say that? If they don't know the person who kidnapped Jaycee (Cant't remember her last name!) personally! then they can't call him a monster can they? Because all we know is what's been on TV. Maybe he's a great guy at home. Yeah . . . . that's it.

Bullpucky!! And, I've never ever watched that show and only started paying attention when the comments on the gossip sites started to get ridiculous. Speaking of that it looks like at least one Radar troll is here!

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAeduko

Thanks for adding to the dicussion and Welcome new commenters. It's always nice to hear from readers who are finally joining in. Yes, there are occasional trolls. As long as they abide by the rules and stay within the limits of the convo, that's fine with me. Otherwise delete, delete, delete. The vast majority of my commenters are bright and compassionate as you can see from their contributions.

November 9, 2010 | Registered CommenterWerny Gal

This is OT but I keep wondering who really has the oversight responsibility for the on-going review of the documentation that records the 8 kids' hrs on a consistent basis? Who is monitoring the documentation for the permits in NC, FL & Alaska along with those hours? Isn't this the home state of PA's DOL's role to tabulate the daily total hours?

However, someone stated they under the impression that the judge's ruling last month allowing Take the sole discretion on when and how often to film supersedes the DOL. I still maintain that the DOL's responsibility for the oversight of hours worked remains under their jurisdiction. I also believe that the PA DOL has NEVER actively performed their oversight duties that encompass all the filming done in these 3 other states. I doubt that anyone has been consistently reviewing these and if I lived in PA I would be hounding them for a resonable response to these valid questions. Oh, and all the couch time tabulations of interviews with the kids recorded and counted as well.

Does anyone know who is legally responsible for the oversight of all of the kids hours?

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNancyB

Thank you for the inteview WG. Eric Roberts brings some fresh ideas to the dialog about the Gosselins.

Fun to read an interview that provokes new views on the Gosselin issue. Finally, some original ideas from someone who is familiar with the media, family, and juggling "life" with a career.

Nice Job.

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFact Lover

In response to the contributor who believes that we should not judge Kate to be an abuser because we do not know her, well I am 54 and grew up in an emotionally deprived household. I had all the signs starting at the age of 5; daily vomiting, akwardly shy, nightmares, etc. How I wish someone would have sat in judgment of my upbringing and perhaps I would not have the emotional scars I do today.

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNever told

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