An Open Letter to Macaulay Culkin

ANYWHERE ON THE NET

Dear Macaulay,
THIS IS IMPORTANT MAC (OR ANY OF HIS FRIENDS WHO MAY CHANCE UPON THIS LETTER).
I know it seems impossible, but there have been other kid stars before you … some of them sharing your parental circumstances, some of them still working on camera, most grown into other pursuits, and TWO HUNDRED CURRENTLY ACTIVE IN “A MINOR CONSIDERATION,” a non-profit organization dedicated to former kid stars, past and present.
We care about everything, Macaulay … from heroin to hangnails. This is not a secret society. Everybody in this no-dues group is famous, guaranteed.
Ricky Sorenson (who played “Boy” in the Tarzan movies way before you were born) was asked how a kid can survive this Business.
“You have to pick your parents with care,” he said, two months before he died.
The entire Sorenson family was in show business, Mac. Four kids in all. Mom and Dad went through a divorce, too, right in the middle of the kid’s most visible years. What’s new?
We survive, my friend.
Ever wonder why no one asks you what you want to be when you grow up? They just assume you’ll go on with being a movie star. That’s what THEY want Macaulay, or think they want, or think they would do in your place. How do we tell them what the odds are against continuing a meaningful acting career.
In the 80 years of the Movie Business you can count the kids who go on to adult careers in Show Business on the fingers and toes of your own body, Mac … and most of those, like Judy Garland or Oscar winner Bobby Driscoll, you wouldn’t want to be.
FAME IS A DRUG that works on you and everyone around you. Don’t think this is normal, my young friend. It’s not. The trade your parents made for you, professional work in place of a childhood, is a done deal.
Your parents have already demonstrated that they can’t handle the pressure, but then, they aren’t recognized in the super market, are they? They don’t have a career at all … but for you and your siblings. Even with this stupid judge’s ruling that keeps their Court business public, when all is said and done they can go back to their anonymity while you, Mac, will continue to be (how do I put this politely?) noticed.
It is important for you to remember that you have done nothing wrong. In fact, you did everything asked of you and more. It wasn’t your fault the adults that surround you lost their reason.
Remember when you would tell the Press that you were “in the Business” to pay for your own college? We all did it Mac; made that college promise. We believed it, too. They told us to. And we wanted to please.
Did anyone warn you that the college participation for famous kids is one-third the national average? Of course not. That would get in the way of the money-machine you created.
And it is YOUR machine, my friend. You got up in the morning after a short night learning lines. You hit the marks and spoke the words and made people believe. You’re the one who will have to pay for homework left undone, friendships broken and lessons left poor behind.
Your younger brothers and sisters became famous without their permission, Macaulay. What good has it done them?
All Stage Parents are the same, and have been for centuries … since the days of the Vienna Boys Choir (and you know what they did to those kids). In India there is a whole caste of families, acrobats and jugglers mostly, who break their children’s bones so they are more limber. Gotta please the rubes.
It’s all so unfair, Mac. If there were a way to indict America, I would do it on your behalf, for we’re all guilty.
How dare “Vanity Fair” devote page after page to the troubles of your family. Is there not enough pain in parents separating and fighting over the kids?
It’s time to take a big step backwards, Macaulay. This may sound self-serving, but there aren’t a thousand people who honestly understand what you’re going through. Most of them belong to “A Minor Consideration.”
We have said (for four years) and continue to say we will meet with you or your family any time and any place at our expense. That’s what we do.
Because we’ve “been there.”
River Phoenix wouldn’t listen, Macaulay. A lot of good that did.
Here’s the deal, Mac. We ask nothing from you, and frankly, you don’t have anything we need. For now, this is a One-Way street. All we ask is that when you get yourself together … with or without our help … you take the time to help the next kid star.
And there are always more kid stars who come from exactly where you came from. I can think of five putting in their time right now.
Mac, you belong to a much larger “family” than you know. We former kid stars don’t go off into the woods anymore to make “civilians” feel more comfortable with what has been stolen from us.
Keep this in mind, Macaulay.
Most people in Show Business get their minks the same way minks do.
Show Business Parents are like rabbits on a night-time highway, bright lights blind them.
If you wanted advice on what kind of car to buy, you’d ask the man who owns one.
This is REAL, not a movie.
If you can’t cut out the time now … and we’ve been down that road, too … remember that the clock that marks the time for you to claim your legal rights begins when you turn eighteen. We’ll be here if you have to wait.
Your job is to keep it together.
The world owes YOU … not the other way around.
Now a final word for your parents … if they are paying attention. “A Minor Consideration” is not your enemy. You are in way over your heads. The train is off the tracks. Quality help is available … no strings attached.
This isn’t Hollywood hyperbole. We do the work. We get our hands dirty. We get results.
Call Screen Actors Guild and ask for the Young Performers Committee at any one of SAG’s sixteen offices. Use the Net. If you need a cut out, ask a friend to send a FAX.
Sincerely,
PAUL PETERSEN
President and Founder
This letter is being put on the WEB in hope that Macaulay will contact either the SAG Young Performers’ Committee or A Minor Consideration. Please help us distribute it widely by providing links to the letter. If you know Macaulay, consider printing it out and placing it in his hands. It is most important for him to know that he is not alone. There are those who have been right where he is now … and those people want to help.