OPEN LETTER TO ACCESS HOLLYWOOD

Webmaster’s note:

The television program “Access Hollywood” recently requested an interview to document the experiences of child actors in Hollywood. “A Minor Consideration” obliged by assembling those who would know the experience best … those who had lived it. Those present discussed at length what being a child actor meant, what problems existed, and what possible corrections could be made to make the experience positive for all the children involved in it.

The positive discussion ended up on the cutting room floor. Positive statements by those present were omitted, only negative statements were aired. To those watching the program, the members of “A Minor Consideration” would have appeared as bitter whiners. The program was a distortion of what was actually said.

The following letter has been sent to “Access Hollywood.” As the distortion was aired publicly, it is only proper that the letter of protest be public as well. We, therefore, present this for your review.

Dear Wendy,

Whom do you suppose knows the most about the “kid actor experience?” “Access Hollywood?” Children and their parents currently engaged in the work for all of five years? Managers who take a minimum of 15% and charge for photos and acting classes?

Or former kid stars?

Look what you had at my sister’s home, Wendy. Graduates of Yale, Rutgers, USC…a doctor of Chiropractic Medicine, a Masters candidate from the University of Arizona in Business, a vice-president of the Mexican American Political Association, a film editor, a prison guard, and four members of the Young Performers Committee at SAG, one of whom is currently on a series, another of whom has just starred in a movie, not to mention the most respected manager in the world of professional children, Michael Harrah.

And our “bumper?”

“Former kid stars lash out at Hollywood.”

That was not at all what you promised or implied, Wendy.

If it is editorial policy at “Access” to be an industry mouth-piece…to cover up what is plainly wrong with the entire subject of children who work…then your Special certainly satisfied your aims.

Thus we have no further use for you or “Access Hollywood.” The membership will be informed in our April 1st, 1997 newsletter.

Broadcasting a “puff piece” when we’re about to go to Sacramento to stop the hiring of three pound, premature infants, finally establish work in the entertainment industry as a legitimate “excused absence” so working kids aren’t failed at their grade level or bounced from honors programs, when Macaulay Culkin is being forced to pay $350,000.00 to his family per year out of funds promised by the State of New York to be held in Trust is irresponsible.

I quoted the Law’s reality to you. “The parents of a (working) child are entitled to its custody, income and services.” The italics are mine. Do you not understand what this means to an ambitious, uncompensated parent?

I assembled twenty people to tell you the truth and we got four minutes out of an hour of outright deception. It won’t happen again.

Was there no time to say, “With a 50% tax rate, a 10% Agent Fee, a 15% Management Fee plus legitimate costs for lessons and photos the reality is that a child works for less than twenty percent of the gross and doesn’t own the fruits of his labor?”

If you want to know how JonBenet Ramsey can parade around like a twenty year old prostitute, and Jessica Dubroff can die at seven years old in pursuit of a meaningless record, just look to yourself, Wendy.

Ninety-Five percent of all children who work in this Industry are unprotected. That’s why we have forty high school graduates begging the Screen Actors Guild for financial assistance…forty children with a minimum Industry income of $500,000.00…and we won’t be able to help them, Wendy because the minimum qualification is ten years of qualifying income. Aggregate income doesn’t count. Kids leave this Industry at the rate of twenty percent a year. Not hard to figure, is it?

Dr. Jeannie Russell told you on-camera that what Stage Parents need, “is an Exit Strategy,” surrounded by a house full of real people who know what they’re talking about and “Access Hollywood” leaves the impression that the water’s fine, come on in and play.

When someone at your company decides to live up to the privilege of having air time and “access” to the people of this country and chooses to tell the truth we will be available, but until then, don’t bother calling us. We’ll call you.

Sincerely,

PAUL PETERSEN,
President & Founder
“A Minor Consideration”