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Entries in a minor consideration (6)

Friday
Oct282011

Shit: Meet Fan ~ TLC Employee Arrested for Child Pornography

One of the fears of many who have watched the Gosselin saga over the years has come true: An employee of TLC has been arrested for the distribution of child pornography. William Johnson Blankinship has worked as on online editor for TLC on Kate Plus Eight as well as other shows involving children.

 

Kate tweeted she's never heard of Blankinship but that's not the point. The point is that private images of her eight children were accessible to him because there were no legal protections in place to prevent it from happening. We do know that Kate allowed images of her children being filmed and aired that she no doubt never would have allowed to be taken of herself: Images of them sitting on the potty, undressed, having their diapers changed, and vomiting for example. If that's what we saw being considered acceptable fare for airing, God only knows what Blankenship could have collected from all the film considered inappropriate for airing.  If he is a pedophile who gets off on this material he would've had the pick of the litter with all those thousands of hours of film, and if he used child porn for financial gain he could've made a mint on selling rare film of famous children to other pedophiles.

 

I've blogged about the PA Dept of Labor & Industry's slacking off when it comes to requiring all adults who work with children in entertainment in PA undergoing mandatory criminal background checks and child abuse clearances. This lack of corporate responsibility is further discussed in my interview with Paul Petersen and others in my book on the effects of reality TV on the Gosselin family. No, these safety measures wouldn't spot pedophiles who haven't been busted in the past, but at least those with records could be rejected as employees. Without these background checks any old pedophile can work for television production companies and have access to hours of private film of young children, not to mention sometimes having access to the children themselves.

 

In Pennsylvania anyone whose work “normally and regularly” brings them into contact with minors must meet these simple legal requirements. The papers are cheap and easy to fill out and must be completed by all daycare workers, school employees, and anyone else working with kids here in PA. I've blogged before about the mystery of not only why TLC does not perform this simple, inexpensive safety check on all of their employees, but also why the PA Dept of L&I hasn't required them to. It's one of the several examples of how children in entertainment in this state have fallen through the cracks of a system that protects other children but not them. The cracks have only widened and deepened since Jon & Kate Plus Eight began filming here and reality TV production came to PA.

 

Ironically, it was only two days ago that Kate slammed Paul Petersen on Twitter, despite his being the driving force behind working toward legislation to protect children in entertainment in this country. This is the same reality TV mom who allowed her very young children to be alone at various times with crew members who had not undergone the background checks, in such isolated places as bathrooms, the kids bedrooms, and in the woods outside the home. Efforts to remove the children from the public eye by the father have been repeatedly dashed to the extreme where she even went to a judge to have his refusal to allow filming overruled. Throughout it all and despite much evidence to the contrary, she has insisted that, unlike she who works hard, the kids have only played in front of the cameras.

 

One out of every three or four children in this country is sexually abused before the age of 18, and kids in entertainment are a natural target.  Why hasn't a mother who desires (apparently VERY, VERY badly) to have her children in entertainment  insisted that all possible precautions be in place to protect her children?  And why hasn't a television network which calls itself The Learning Channel taken simple, inexpensive precautions to protect itself from the legal repurcussions that could result if the minors in its care are subjected to predators and criminals?  And why haven't either utilized the free services of A Minor Consideration, which could guide them toward creating their exntertainment in ways that would be responsible to the minors involved?  What will it take for these adults to consider this situation to be serious enough to actually do something about it?  Because for most of us, or at least those of us who aren't monetarily invested in this situation, today the shit hit the fan.

 

                                   ~     ~     ~

Article first published as TLC Employee Arrested for Child Pornography on Technorati.

Saturday
Nov062010

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 www.naturalchild.org, or listen to the audio book THE NATURAL CHILD, or review materials from Prevent Child Abuse America http://www.preventchildabuse.org/index.shtml 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. www.ericrobertsactor.com.    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,

Eric

www.keatonsimons.com

www.acateringco.tumblr.com

 *     *     *

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.~

Wednesday
May262010

Open Letter to TLC from A Minor Consideration

Here is what Paul Petersen posted on the AMC site at the time of the child labor law hearings, from Philadelphia.  It provides good background for today's open letter to TLC, which is shown below.

Werny Gal

*     *     *

Paul Petersen from Philadelphia 4/14/10

The public hearing into the true state of Pennsylvania's child labor laws arranged by our friend, Rep. Thomas Murt on behalf of the Republican Policy Committee went very well indeed today. An attentive panel of adult male Representatives from PA's House were on hand to listen and learn from Jodi and Kevin Kreider, Ms. Gloria Allred, Esq., a qualified child psychologist, Yours Truly…and (this is when you sound the horns), three representatives from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry who, to the surprise of everyone in the room, announced that they had arrived at a conclusion in the nineteen-month investigation into the working conditions on the five-year television series, "Jon & Kate + 8."

Don't get your hopes up. The officials of the Labor and Industry enforcement division…without visiting the actual workplace/home of the alleged violations of PA's existing child labor laws…actually discovered that TLC and the parents (that would be Jon and Kate) DID NOT HAVE THE WORK PERMITS REQUIRED BY PENNSYVANIA'S EXISTING LAW! GUILTY AS CHARGED.

And what is the cost for this massive five-year saga of child abuse and conscious deception?

No criminal charges. No fines. Just an agreement that TLC will now conform to the child labor laws in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth.

Oh, and the establishment of an irrevocable Coogan Trust consisting of 15% of the Gosselin children's computed gross income. 15% split eight ways.

Now, don't you feel better America? My formal statement is here on our Home Page. I wonder what I would have said had I known that an "official decision" had been reached three weeks ago?

Stay tuned.

5/26/10    An Open Letter to TLC

The ruling of the PA Department of Labor and Industry (announced on April 14th) that the eight Gosselin children are actually working…and have been for the past five years…was not accompanied by an announcement of stiff fines and penalties to be imposed on TLC for their wanton disregard of existing PA child labor law.

Virtually everything TLC said (as a division of the world's largest content provider, Discovery Communications) proved to be deceptive. There were no work permits, no trust funds, and no limited hours. Pay levels were never set and the Industry's "custom & practice" in the employment of minors was observed in the breech.

"Go forth and sin no more" is insufficient when we know that a new show starring Kate Gosselin and her brood is already announced and underway.

I have some serious questions…and a continuing sense of disappointment that neither the Labor Department nor TLC has found a way to contact the Chair of the Young Performers Committee at AFTRA (The theatrical union that would ordinarily cover this sort of reality show).

Instead of coming to the experts, let alone addressing the very public concerns expressed regarding "Jon & Kate + 8", TLC has actually contracted with a paid Lobbyist to bird dog the pending legislation (HB 2515), due to be announced on June 3rd 2010. Don't believe me? Here's the Lobbyist TLC has hired:

Scott Bishop
S.R. Wojdak & Associates, LP
30 North Third Street
Suite 950
Harrisburg, PA 17101
717-233-1111

He hasn't called AFTRA either…and we're not hard to find.

Where is the independent Advocate for the Gosselin Eight? Who negotiated the terms of the contract with these children? What Court approved this contract? What person…with a license to lose…is going to oversee the day-to-day production of "Kate Plus 8?" Who will guard the "health, safety and morals" of the minors?

Industry insiders have reported that "Jon & Kate + 8" turned a profit of $200 million dollars to TLC as its Number One show, and the woman who discovered the Gosselins, Ms. Eileen O'Neill, is now the President of the TLC network, moving over from the Discovery Health Channel.

In an interview from last May, here is what Ms. O'Neill was quoted as saying. "We did not document family conversations," Ms. O'Neill said, adding: "As they've said all along, certain matters are private, and we've respected that."

Just how naive do you think we are, Ms. O'Neill? Your own words describe the true situation:
"You can't help but become invested in people that you've worked with for several years," she said in June of 2009.

"Invested, my eye," Ms. O'Neill. You pretended the kids were just participants.

You took advantage of children and their ambitious parents. You pretended that the family was intact when your own production team told you well in advance that a divorce we pending and that there was big trouble under the Gosselin roof. You perpetuated a deliberate public farce and involved innocent children whose lives you have materially affected.

And even today your network has cut a deal with the inexperienced staff of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, a deal whose terms have not been made public. You have not announced the corrective measures TLC will take with all the TLC productions that utilize Minors. You have not announced the changes to production designed to better protect the kids in the workplace.

Instead you've hired a Lobbyist, Scott Bishop, Esq., and contracted with Kate and her eight children to provide another commercial entertainment without disclosing the terms of that employment. TLC employs scores of children across its platforms. Where are the new rules and guidelines for the child labor that your network and Discovery Communications features in its slickly-produced and carefully crafted reality shows?

That is not transparency, President O'Neill. In my public remarks on April 14th, comments that are on the public record and available to anyone truly concerned with the Gosselin kids, I warned all within the sound of my voice of what is to come if the Gosselin children…and all the rest of the TLC juveniles employed by your network…are not treated fairly in accordance with long-established custom and practice within this Industry. I even quoted the Pennsylvania Court:

PA's Third Circuit Court in 1985 noted that "the common law rule that minors…may disaffirm their contracts has as its basis the public policy concern that minors should not be bound by mistakes resulting from their immaturity or the overbearance of unscrupulous adults."

Mady and Cara Gosselin will turn 18 years-old on October 8th 2018. It's time for TLC to openly come to the table on behalf of all the kids on their platform. Let's put an end to these deceptive employment practices and set a Gold Standard when it comes to Minors and so-called reality shows. As for the adults you employ? They can fend for themselves. They are not my concern.

But when you take advantage of a child in the entertainment business you're going to hear from us…now or later.

Sincerely,
Paul Petersen,
President, A Minor Consideration

Sunday
May092010

Gloria Allred on PA Child labor Laws

Following is an excerpt of Gloria Allred's testimony at the April 14, 2010 hearing on child labor laws hosted by Pennsylvania Rep. Murt. Although the hearings were not about the Gosselins in particular, they would no doubt have not taken place if the Gosselin children being filmed here had not brought attention to the topic. Therefore, the Gosselins various shows being filmed in PA has provided us with a valuable opportunity to examine and improve our laws regarding children being filmed in entertainment here.

As I read through this first portion of Gloria's testimony I thought of some examples where, throughout this entire "reality" TV experience, the Gosselin's children's needs have not been treated as a priority. Rather than state my observations now, I invite my readers to consider the Gosselin children as they read the statement below, and then comment on how you observe this relating to the Gosselins. Then I'll post another entry listing some of your observations and including my own.

* * * * * *
Good Morning. I’m attorney Gloria Allred, partner in the law firm of Allred, Laughlin, Goldberg in Los Angeles where I’ve been practicing law for almost 35 years. But most of all, I’m proud to be born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduate of Philadelphia High School for girls, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where I was given the honor of being a commencement speaker at the College of Arts and Sciences graduation on Franklin Field just a few years ago. And, also, I was a credentialed teacher at Benjamin Franklin School here in Philadelphia and some other schools as well in Philadelphia before I moved to California some years ago. So, thank you very much for holding this important hearing. Most of all, thank you to Representative Murt and to the other representatives who spent time here today listening very carefully. I’ve testified at numerous hearings on numerous subjects for many years and I have to say I’ve never seen elected officials so attentive and very thoughtful about the testimony that was being presented to them and really obviously looking for ways to resolve the important issues facing the children in Pennsylvania. So I thank you for that.

These children on reality shows don’t have a voice, they don’t make contributions to political campaigns, they don’t run for elective office and s they have no political clout. So ordinarily they got nothing but lip service , if that, from elected officials. But, obviously you are elected officials who want action and who want deeds not just words, and for that I’m very appreciative. What I’d like to talk about today is to give a short overview of what federal law does or does not do in this area, and also to, perhaps, give some analysis of Representative Murt’s proposals that I know he has not distributed, but we’ve had a chance to look at some of them and analyze them, and I’d like to emphasize what I think is positive about them and what perhaps could be a little bit clarified or improved. And then finally, I’d like to make some comments about the investigative process, and not specifically what’s going on with Jon and Kate, but the investigative process in terms of the law. I’ll give you an example, from California, in reference to an investigation that took place on the Nadya Suleman and her eight, well actually fourteen children that she has and whether that process worked or not in reference to what would work here in Pennsylvania.* And I do want to commend Jodi and Kevin Kreider who just gave incredible testimony , just perfect, and Paul Petersen who is in the interest of full disclosure of my client, but who is absolutely the leader above all else on this issue in this nation and for that matter around the world.

To begin, federally, and this background is also provided by and has been provided to me by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, I am a member of AFTRA and I’m also a member of SAG. In reference to what the issue is federally, the most pleasing federal law that regulates the employment conditions and prevents the abuse of child workers issues is the Fair Labor Standards Act, FLSA, child labor provisions under FLSA are designed to protect the educational opportunities abuse and prohibit their employment and jobs that are detrimental to their health and safety. The FLSA restricts the hours that youth under 16 years of age are allowed to work and with hazardous occupations too dangerous for young workers to perform. And here’s what’s most important: Children employed as actors or performers in motion pictures, theatrical productions, or on radio or television programs are specifically exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act coverage and the standards and protections provided under FLSA. So let’s talk now about how does the lack of coverage under the FLSA impact children. Without national coverage, children have no consistent protection. Though some states regulate the employment of minors in the entertainment industry, other states have no provisions regulating child labor in this industry whatsoever. Among the states that normally regulate the performances of children in the media industry, few have comprehensive protections for the education health , safety and financial security of children.

For years, children have necessarily been a part of the entertainment industry. It would be impossible to produce the Harry Potter films or television programs like Hanna Montana or the Suite Life of Zach and Cody without employing children as actors. And the proliferation of the so called reality programming has exacerbated the problem by utilizing children on television without any compensation or any other protection either as contestants or subjects of documentary style shows. Without the protections afforded under the FLSA, the welfare of children is put at risk. The recent hoax of the so-called balloon boy, reports that the Octomom was developing a reality TV show and the proliferation of shows like Kid Nation, Jon and Kate Plus 8, or just Kate Plus 8 illustrates that children are increasingly exploited in the media and often without fundamental protection. Federal child labor standards in the entertainment industry would ensure that the well-being of children is not bothered for the proverbial fifteen minutes of fame. As film and television production becomes decentralized, more children than ever are left without protection. States with major entertainment industry production centers like California and New York do have well developed laws and regulations as Paul Petersen had said, governing the performance of minors in the industry. But production is increasingly decentralized particularly if more states like Pennsylvania pass production incentive legislation, that’s tax incentive legislation, designed to lure film and television production to their state. Though union contracts in the industry contain provisions designed to provide the unique protections that children require, many programs are not produced under a union contract. Additionally, the performances of some children like contestants and participants in reality television may not be covered by a union contract because the children are not technically “employed”.

So what protections are needed? First of all in the area of wages. There is currently no minimum wage for children who appear on air. Children who appear in competition or documentary-styled reality programs may not receive any compensation at all. This is nationally.

Financial protections. There are only four states that have a Coogan law requiring establishment of a trust account to preserve and safeguard a portion of their earnings for adulthood.

Health, safety, and working conditions. Children need health and safety protection that is specific to their physical, mental, emotional and developmental needs.

Education. States like California require that teachers be provided for children while they are working on production. California also requires the presence of a parent or a guardian while a child performer works. Other states may have no provisions at all for onset education.

Hours of work. Children need additional rest when working, particularly if they are traveling or working at night. Associate regulation of hourly support is necessary.

Moral oversights. Children should not be placed in a moral situation that is inappropriate, be exposed to distressing scenes, be forced to become distressed in order to prompt a particular reaction or employed in any situation involving nudity, which goes to your concerns, Representative.

Representative Murt, I know, has drafted some proposed improvements or changes in Pennsylvania Child Labor Law and without going through all of them because I think that’s in the province of Representative Murt to present, I would like to comment that I think it’s very positive that he wants to define work in reality shows. His proposals for legislation will require that children who appear on reality television are working as performers and should be subject to the state’s (??) process for child performers.

Minimum wage recommendation by Representative Murt: The legislation which he proposes will recognize that children in reality television should be paid for their performances, or their participation, and that the work load and restrictions in place for children working in other types of television programming such as scripted entertainment programming should be in place for kids in reality television. I see that as a positive as well.

Moral oversight. Representative Murt’s proposed legislation has some provisions related to moral oversight. Meaning prohibitions on photographing children while changing clothes, or bathing, performances where alcohol is present. Additional protections would be helpful. I’ll make a few specific suggestions there.

Health and safety. Representative Murt is concerned with that. His legislation contains provisions related to health and safety, which are good. States should study to see whether (?) protection are necessary.

Now here are some areas that I believe could perhaps benefit from some clarification, Representative Murt, for improvement.

Age of children. The permitting process in Pennsylvania is such that appears that children under the age of seven are not permitted to work. If this is the case, the same restriction should exist for children in reality shows. It would eliminate ambiguity if the legislation were to contain a clearly-worded prohibition against the employment of children under the age of seven in reality shows.

Hours of work. They provide, in Representative Murt’s legislation, that children shall not work before five a.m. or after 11:30 p.m. It strikes me that that’s rather early and extremely late particularly for children as young as seven years of age. Similarly, permitting up to forty four hours of work per week as a proposed legislation and draft suggests, seems to be quite a lot, and I would lessen that.

Financial protection. Only four states, as I have mentioned, have a Coogan Law requiring establishment of a trust account to preserve and safeguard a portion of the children’s earnings for adulthood. Pennsylvania is not one of those states.

Education. States like California require that teachers be provided while they are working on production. By the way, the purpose of the teacher is merely to safeguard the workplace so the children are not endangered. California also requires the presence of a parent or guardian while a child performer works. It’s good that Representative Murt is asking the department to ensure that adequate educational instruction is provided. But the standards they have to meet needs to be defined in my opinion.

Moral oversight in Representative Murt’s proposed legislation. Children should not be placed in a moral situation that is inappropriate, be exposed to distressing scenes, be forced to become distressed in order to prompt a particular reaction. There’s a real risk that these sorts of things can be problems during the production of television reality shows.
[End of the excerpt of Allred's testimony]

*Due to the length of this post that example will be provided in a future blog entry.

Wednesday
Mar102010

The Untimely Death of Corey Haim

Another former child star has died, this time of an apparent drug overdose. I used to think 38 was old but now that I'm older I can truly appreciate what a waste of a young life this is. The sad thing is that it's no surprise that Corey Haim is gone. He's struggled with drug addiction and trying to find his place in adulthood ever since he grew up and was abandoned by that seductive siren known as stardom.

Being thrust into the public eye is traumatic, even for adults who know who they are and have established successful careers and relationships. It is way too much of a burdon for many adults. It is certainly much harder on children.

Kate Gosselin, are you listening???