“A Minor Consideration” was formed by the efforts of Paul Petersen (Jeff on the “Donna Reed Show”) in January, 1991, as a non-profit support and assistance foundation to aid former child stars. Early support came in the form of his wife, Rana Platz-Petersen, RN and then president of Studio First Aid. The impetus for their formation was a series of suicides (Tim Hovey, Trent Lehman and Rusty Hamer) combined with the headline making condition of several other former child stars. Paul was writing a book at the time but set it aside, borrowing the title to name the foundation.
Their aim was much narrower in the early days…to aggressively reach out to those former child stars they knew to be in trouble. In years past, the Industry and the Screen Actors Guild had not been very helpful, but in January of 1991 there was a great sea-change. The news was simply too compelling to ignore, and entities like The Actors Fund, the Motion Picture Health Fund, Permanent Charities…and most importantly…Screen Actors Guild became welcome partners in an effort to help youngsters touched by early Fame and now grown old to put their lives in order.
“A Minor Consideration” works much like A.A., but with a significant difference; they do not pretend to be “anonymous.” There is a long history of difficulty in the curious world of Young Performers, much of it distasteful, and by sharing their experiences with each other and providing financial and emotional support, they encourage their “classmates” to put their past behind them and create a solid future. Former kid stars are automatic members, whether they like it or not … and some do not.
Over the years their mission has grown significantly. They support an aggressive educational program, both public and private to share their personal knowledge of the way things really work in the world of juvenile Hollywood. They are a clear-eyed bunch, and they do not put up with propaganda and distortions that have so colored the actual experience. They also support a legislative program to bring order out of chaos (see “Kids and the Law”), seeking to make Industry child labor laws uniform througout the nations and to make the Coogan Law a part of every kid actor’s work life. They want money saved for the kids from Day One and Dollar One.
Their greatest triumph was in taking over the Young Performers Committee at Screen Actors Guild which had been moribund for almost twenty years, packed as it was with Managers, Agents, and Stage Parents. Simply put, they eased them out by showing up en mass, former kid stars all, and forcing their way into the game. Former kid star and former President of SAG, Barry Gordon, made that possible by appointing them to the Committee. Since that time their progress has been incredible by any measure, as the recent National Conference on Yung Performers proved. The $110,000 grant from the Industry Advancement Cooperative Fund to hold their Conference is dramatic proof of their progress.
“A Minor Consideration” is now numbering its membership in the hundreds, about half former kid stars whose names remain household words, and another half composed of professionals in every field who donate their time to help people who gave so much of their lives ‘way back when.’
Their biggest victory so far is that they’ve won the argument. There are significant risks to children who find their way into the Entertainment Business. On that point there is no longer any dispute. These former child stars … who laughingly refer to themselves as “old has beens” … despite personal embarrassment and risk to their reputations and careers, have taught the nation a stern lesson. The risks to famous kids have remained the same for almost eighty years. It’s time for it to stop. That’s what “A Minor Consideration” is all about: SOLUTIONS!