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Reality TV Kids Have No Legal Protection From Pedophiles

By "Former" and Polly Kahl


For the past few days the LA Times has been running a story about a registered sex offender who has been working as a casting director  He went by the name Jason James, although his real name is Jason James Murphy.  Producer JJ Abrams (Super 8, Fringe, Lost) found out about Murphy, went to Paramount, and Paramount contacted the authorities.

When Bill Blankinship, who had worked as a film editor on TLC shows including Jon & Kate Plus Eight, was arrested on October 21, 2011 for child pornography, Figure Eight attempted to minimize their association with Blankenship by stating he worked for a subcontractor.  Unlike Figure Eight, when JJ Abrams found out he had a registered sex offender working on his film, he said:  "It's shocking and it's devastating, not just as a filmmaker but as a father and someone who is entrusted to make sure that everyone I work with, especially children, are safe," Abrams said. "To think that someone like this was among us is unthinkable." 

His two CDs on Super 8 also talked to the LA Times, as did a talent agency executive. They were all shocked. No one wants to work with a registered sex offender. No one wants to send kids to an audition with a registered sex offender. 

Unlike TLC, who said nothing, Paramount is going to start background checks.  "Moving forward, we...will also conduct background checks on all freelance employees, full time and part time, who work with minors on our productions." 

Fox is conducting an internal investigation.  "We have only just learned of this information;  we take it extremely seriously and have commenced an immediate investigation." 

There is no advocacy organization for reality TV children. In the Blankinship case, Kate Gosselin's only response was to twitter that she had never heard of him. Jon Gosselin remembered meeting him several times, and hired a lawyer to find out if the NC authorities had evidence that Blankinship had footage of the children.  Jon said "Any parent would be freaked out by this."  In our opinion Jon was the only one who had a normal reaction. 

"They're just freaking out," said Anne Henry, co-founder of ParentBiz Foundation, a nonprofit support group for parents whose children work in the entertainment industry, who "spent the morning dealing with frantic parents worried that Murphy might have been alone with their children during casting sessions and could have obtained photos or videotapes of them." is calling for fingerprinting and background checks for anyone working with minors.  Paul Petersen, former child star and the director of A Minor Consideration, a non-profit organization comprised of 600 former child stars, is backing them.

It should be noted that Murphy is cooperating with the police, and so far there is no evidence that he has done anything wrong. He is being investigated but there is no known reason for an arrest thus far. 

According to the anonymous TV producer interviewed in Jon & Kate Plus Eight:  "Reality" TV & the Selling of the Gosselins, one of the advantages of producing reality TV are the lowered production costs due to not having to adhere to union rules that protect children.  And as we all know, none of the Figure 8, Discovery, or TLC crew, including crafts services or catering, had to undergo criminal background checks or child abuse clearances prior to working with the eight.  This, despite that fact that the children were often left alone in various combinations with crew members, sometimes is isolated areas such as bathrooms, bedrooms or outdoors.  As a film editor, William Blankinship had access to many hours of film of the Gosselin children.  It is unknown at this time what the film Blankenship edited contained, or if he made any of it available to his pedophile network for any of their personal use or for profit.  TLC has made no mention of instituting child abuse clearances and background checks for their employees or subcontractors who have access to children, despite the simple process and low costs involved. 

An editor on a bunch of reality shows that feature kids is arrested for child porn and there's little or no comment from anyone. Not the network, barely a comment from the producer's company, and only a tweet from Kate Gosselin, who seemed to think that because Blankenship had never met her kids in person it wasn't her problem.  For the Gosselin children, there was only the dad and a couple of bloggers. 

Todd Bridge's mother, actress Betty A. Bridges, is trying to get the unions to screen their employees. Some IA locals do - for example, sound gets background checks because they have to touch actors when they're micing them. CDs are Teamsters and so far their local is saying screening is the employer's responsibility.  Our hope is that talent agencies, SAG/AFTRA, and the CDs themselves will start putting pressure on the local to screen CDs. 

That won't matter to reality TV kids, though. Almost all basic cable reality shows are non-union.

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Article first published as Reality TV Kids Have No Legal Protection From Pedophiles on Technorati.





Are You a Reality TV Viewer? Hollywood Calls You a “Consumer”

Our sometime guest blogger Mickey McKean found an interesting book review by Spencer Pratt, former cast member of the MTV reality show The Hills, in which he discusses reality TV as a calculated money making machine. Please read the entire thing at the link provided above, and meanwhile here are some of his observant bon mots about how celebrities make money by being famous, or to look at it from another angle, how people become famous celebs to make money. Either way, whether he's discussing the Kardashians or Speidi, Pratt makes it clear it's got nothing to do with reality.

The public has been on to Kim and her momager Kris Jenner for awhile now. I'm sure they know how every move they've made in Kim's life has been part of a money-making strategy...For example, look at Kim's millions of Twitter followers. She pretends they're part of her extended family, but after her divorce announcement when all anyone wanted to know about was her relationship, she only tweeted about her store appearances. There's a reason for this. Kim tweets to promote herself. She'll do that for free. Talking about her personal life? That'll cost you.


When I was manipulating the media for profit I was blatantly obvious about my attention-seeking antics, with the goal of making money off stories and photos. I never thought I was putting one over on the audience/viewer/reader. ...Speidi was the obvious fame loving duo...everyone making significant money in Hollywood is doing everything Speidi did in the past -- only they do it in secret. We made our money the same way everyone in Hollywood makes money, we just never tried to cover it up.


...All major stars have photo deals with photo agencies and sell these photographs along with strategically manufactured stories that are all timed with the launch or release of a book, film, TV show, fragrance or product. Every story you consume about Hollywood has a purpose and that purpose is to make money for the celebrity.


...there are no coincidences in Tinseltown. It's no coincidence that Kris Jenner had her book tour during the week of her daughter's divorce announcement.



Kate Gosselin's Red Cross "Contributions" Not So Great

Yesterday the American Red Cross supposedly asked Kate Gosselin to remove a picture from her web site which shows her draped in what appears at first glance to be nothing but a Red Cross blanket.   After receiving complaints Dave Shrader of the American Red Cross Southeastern Chapter stated, "We have since asked her to choose a different photo to post on her website and are awaiting her response."  Then apparently he backtracked because he later stated, "I did mistakenly write that we have asked Ms. Gosselin to take down the photo. We have not. I meant to write we have asked that she submit a different photo for us to use on the phillyhomefire website."

Sounds to me like Mr. Shrader's discovered what many of us already knew, which is that when it comes to saying anything regarding Kate Gosselin, it's hard to please everyone and someone's bound to complain about something.  I experienced the same backlash after appearing on the E! show on Kate and writing my book about the effects of reality TV on the Gosselin family and then receiving hate comments of my own because some of her detractors thought I didn't hate Kate Gosselin enough. 

IMO the picture of Kate draped in the flag is inappropriate and has much more to do with her grabbing another 15 seconds of fame than her giving a rat's ass about the Red Cross.  I'm a Red Cross volunteer and I can tell you for a fact she's never been in contact with the Berks County Red Cross and has never donated a dime to them, and she's sure never been out in a cold truck at 3 AM handing out blankets to crying parents and children who have lost their homes, their pets and everything but the pajamas they're wearing over their bare feet in the dead of winter.  So let's talk about what's really important.

The Red Cross.  As my regular readers know I'm a Red Cross volunteer, and I happen to have pictures of the truck because I took some for my kids when I was last on it on October 15th.  The truck was donated to the Red Cross by a local women's organization and it was received with much appreciation.  It is a converted bread truck which was once full of racks for breads to be delivered from the factory to local grocery stores.  It fills the Red Cross's basic needs, and I do mean basic, and it's a gas guzzler.  Here's what the inside of it looks like.

Behind the passenger seat there's a tiny sink with storage underneath.  Everything is condensed and built for function, not beauty.

There's a small gas stove and all the storage compartments are labeled.  The truck carries different volunteers all the time depending on who's on call and it's important to be able to find things quickly.  We're all trained and certified in first aid and CPR and when we go on calls we're ready for anything. 

In the back behind the driver's seat is a standing storage compartment loaded with bins of supplies we need for the comfort of people in crisis mode.  We have as many comforts as we can afford that fit into the truck, everything from water bottles to blankets to slippers.

Along the side behind the driver is a bench storage unit.  When we're at the scene of a fire or other emergency we bring families into the truck and try to comfort them.  They are often traumatized and unable to think clearly and we take care of their basic needs.  We make sure they're warm and safe and we help them find shelter for the night or the next few days until they find new homes.  We also give them vouchers for clothing and places to stay while they get back on their feet.  This all takes hours and the emergency call can wake the volunteer up at any time of the night.  Be prepared to be exhausted the next day but know you'll be grateful because you're being tired doesn't begin to compare to what these poor families have been through and will continue to go throu for the next couple of weeks, months or years as they recover from their emergency.


Please excuse my hair, I didn't know I was going to use these pictures on my blog.  Inside the bench are blankets and bags of toiletries for the families, containing little comforts like toothbrushes and toothpaste.  In cases of fire the victims sometimes walk away from their burning homes with literally nothing.  The blankets we hand out are nothing like the cushy creamy blanket Kate draped herself in.  The real ones are thin and inexpensive but they do the trick when even the basics feel like luxuries. 

IMO any more conversation about this just feeds into Kate's continual bid for attention, fame and money so I just have one more thing to say.  Kate Gosselin, put your money where your mouth is.  The Red Cross exists solely on donations.   Instead of griping about how poor you are and extolling how thrifty you are by using all those coupons, how about donating some of that $4 million you made last year alone to the Berks County chapter of the American Red Cross?  


Kim Kardashian Compared to Kate Gosselin & the Red Cross is Not Amused

Mickey McKean sent over this link to an article comparing Kim Kardashian to Kate Gosselin, in which the author opines that both reality TV participants thought their stars would never fall. 

According to the author, the family that captivated reality television and built the house of E! is coping with a vertiginous reversal of fortune in the same way that Kate, who helped build the house of TLC, has.  "She thought she was Teflon and she's being proved wrong," publicist is quoted as saying about Kim kardashian.  "She's the new Kate Gosselin."

Last weekend's "Saturday Night Live" offered an acid parody that portrayed the Kardashians as airheads who prattle on about anal bleaching.  In the sketch, mom Kris Jenner is played by Kristin Wiig as an attention-seeking, plastic-surgery addict, while soon-to-be ex-husband Kris Humphries was rendered a monosyllabic simpleton.

"The only way people are going to stop hating her is if she goes away for awhile," the publicist stated about Kim, although he could have just as easily been describing Kate Gosselin.  "But I doubt this woman will ever do that. She'd go nuts to be away for even five minutes."

In this article Kim andKate are both portrayed as entitled divas who don't care who they trample on the way to stardom.  Kim's ruthlessness in her quest for fame is evidenced by her brief marriage to Kris Humphries while Kate's is evidenced by her choosing her reality TV life over her ex-husband Jon.  Jon has stated that he would have been perfectly happy to have never done reality TV and his attempts to get his children out of the public eye and back into having normal childhoods are well documented.

One thing is clear when it comes to either reality TV star, or anyone else in reality TV, for that matter.  The public doesn't like being tricked, condescended to, or treated like idiots, and they WILL tune out.

In unrelated news, the Red Cross has been receiving complaints about Kate insinuating herself into being affiliated with them by draping herself psuedo-seductively in a Red Cross flag in a picture on her personal web site.  According to the Red Cross, they have had no communication with Kate and they did not give her permission to affiliate herself with them.  Looks like kate's using the Red Cross to continue trying to build her new everywoman-goodmom-solidcitizen image (since the Hollywood A-List and sexbomb images sunk like the Titanic.)  This is rather ironic given her local notoriety for endangering herself, her children and others by parking in fire lanes. 

Well, there's one difference between Kate and kim Kardashian, anyway.  Kardashian never would have done this kind of endorsement without ample renumeration.


Guest Blog: Is Keeping Up With The Kardashians Just A Big A$$ Scam?

by Mickey McKean 

If you watch television you may be under the belief that if you become a reality TV star who is willing to have your everyday life filmed for the entertainment of complete strangers in TV Land you will become rich and famous.  If your only focus in life is seeking fame and fortune because you think that money will buy you happiness so you believe that it is OK to sell your privacy to the highest bidder, you probably are not paying attention to the problems that reality TV stars face on a daily basis.  Problems such as being the butt of jokes on late night TV, seeing headlines in the gossip magazines that may or may not be true, strained relationships with your family -- spouse, kids, parents, siblings -- that may result in an irreparable rift, stalking by fans or haters, and yes, even suicide.


Even if as a general rule you do not watch reality TV, there is still a good chance that you know the name Kardashian and are aware that Kim Kardashian married NBA star Kris Humphries in a very lavish and expensive wedding on August 20th that was supposed to rival last April's royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.


But 72 days later, on October 31st, Kim filed for divorce and then left for Australia to market her handbags or whatever Down Under.  I found it interesting that E!, the network that films her show, did NOT tag along with Kim and her sister Khloe on this trip that had been scheduled for some time.  Could it be that the network was blindsided with this divorce announcement just like everyone else, including Kim's husband Kris Humphries?


As luck would have it, Kim's mother and manager Kris Jenner was scheduled to be on a book tour in New York this week promoting her new book but has found herself talking more about her daughter's divorce than her new book.  This is not necessarily a surprise since the words "scam" and "publicity stunt" have been used repeatedly on various shows, newspapers, etc.  Three polls done by various shows/web sites and all polls show that over 90% of the viewers believe this was all done just for a reality TV show, so of course any Kardashian is going to be approached with the obvious questions. 


The Kardashian family has certainly proven to the world that there is money to be made in reality TV.  One cannot deny that they have blazed a trail on how to build one's brand, but now that Kim has filed for divorce after only 72 days, the questions are coming fast and furious:  Is this divorce so soon after her wedding going to hurt her/their brand?  Will this impact the Kardashian empire?  Was this all done just for a storyline for their TV show?


It has been reported that the wedding cost around $10 million but with the selling of the wedding photos and the exclusive filming Kim made $18 million in the process.  Not surprisingly a lot of people have been analyzing how much money Kim made off the wedding (product placement, free comps) compared to how many days she and her husband were together.  Bottom line, the question is:  Did Kim do this over-the-top fairy tale wedding just for the money?


This all boils down to just how upset the TV viewers are.  One article written by a legal expert asks the question as to whether or not the vendors from the wedding could sue Kim, since "forever" only lasted 72 days (most people define forever as being just a tad longer.)  No matter what services or products Kim received for free or at discounted prices in exchange for product placement in her lavish televised wedding, these business owners were given the impression (as were the viewers) that this was the real deal and would last longer than 72 days.  Now these vendors may feel they are part of this national joke rather than them having received the expensive advertising they paid for.


There is also the issue of the wedding gifts.  What would Emily Post advise in regards to returning them after a 72 day long marriage?  This is a hot topic since Kim and Kris Humphries registered for very expensive gifts at a high-end store in Beverly Hills.  Now it seems that Kim has decided that instead of returning the wedding gifts she could instead just write a check for $200,000 made payable to a charity of her choice.  Can anyone say tax write off?


Last but not least, there is the 20 carat $2 million diamond engagement ring that Kris gave his fiance Kim.  My understanding is that the general rule of thumb is if you do not get married you have to return the ring since it was given as a gift in anticipation of a marriage, however, if you get married you get to keep the ring.  In this particular case though I think it will come down to the 72 days and the price tag of the ring, and if this was in fact nothing more than a big a$$ scam, should Kim return the ring even if she got married?  If she keeps the ring, how will it impact future ratings?


It is going to be interesting to see whether or not TV viewers are going to give a rip about the Kardashians after this divorce announcement.  There is no question that a lot of viewers are becoming more savvy when it comes to reality TV;  that they now know it is not reality and is in fact scripted.  When viewers feel that they have been lied to -- that their intelligence has been insulted -- they know they have the option of turning the channel and watching something else on TV.


Only time will tell after this big a$$ scam how many viewers will still be interested in Keeping Up With The Kardashians.


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Note from Polly:

Readers, be sure to read the comments for this entry because Mickey's left some excellent follow-up info there. :)

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