Momentary Melancholy

I suppose I should be rejoicing as the time for turning over the reins of A Minor Consideration draws nigh, but there is a clutch in my heart when I contemplate my senior years without AMC. Not that my life’s passion will ever evaporate. A commitment of this magnitude doesn’t just up and disappear…, however, the time has come, something I realized in full measure during my recent road trip with my wife, best pal and boon companion, Rana Platz-Petersen, RN who will retire in 23 months.

I am tired, my friends, and just months away from my 69th birthday. What did I mean to do with the past 24 years if not solidify the sense of community ALL kid actors, knowingly or not, necessarily share? This mission has never been about me. My childhood can never be recaptured. This fight has always been about working kids in Show Business, the most visible children in the world. They give so much, and give up so much in pursuit of that illusory thing called ‘entertainment’ and no one, including their parents, seem to understand the magnitude of their sacrifice. As Tony Dow says, “You agree to take on a job, and Poof, there goes your life.”

I have tremendous confidence in the younger generation that will take over AMC. They have lived the life and learned the lessons…and they know to a certainty what the stakes truly are. Scotty Schwartz, Sarah Monahan, Katy Kurtzman and Mary McDonough, Radames Pera and more have seen the way the deck is stacked against working kids in Entertainment. They cannot be fooled. They worked for money that was not their own, watched as relationships were distorted by evaporating Fame, and each of them daily live with the consequences of unending notoriety. AMC is in good hands…and deserving of their special personal skills.

Money, in America, is the way you keep score. Communications in this media-saturated world, are the means by which you keep your mission on the world’s radar screen. AMC’s new crop of former kid actors understand these twin realities in a way my generation cannot. Facebook and Twitter, the Internet and Social Media are their tools, and for Scott Schwartz in particular, the way you measure your impact is the proverbial ‘bottom line.’ We are right about the core realities of working children. Kids in Show Business should not be EXEMPT from federal child labor laws. Kids who work should OWN the money they earn because it is they and not their Parents who do the work, learn the lines and hit their marks. So, when Scott and his new cohorts ask for monetary support they have an unassailable moral stance.

I have never been good about asking for money. Rana and I have always relied on our own pockets, not yours. As an ‘enterprise,’ that is not good business. There is no paid staff at AMC, no Office Expense, and no Overhead. After 25 years the accrued debt of AMC comes to less than $7,000.00. The reason we’ve been successful for the past quarter-century is because we are Right. No child should be exempt from the basic principle of Fairness. Highly educated and experienced professionals have donated their time and interest as a way of paying us back for the decades of entertainment and pleasure we have provided to them, personally. I don’t think that will change.

The unvarnished truth is that animals in Show Business enjoy far more protections than children working in the same environment. The absurdity of this reality is a reflection of the true state of our Society. I’m comfortable with being kicked upstairs to the position of Chairman Emeritus. I’m not going away anytime soon, believe me, but the day-to-day affairs of A Minor Consideration will be handed over to the next generation.

I was told many years ago that managing my own replacement is one of the most crucial duties of a non-profit’s CEO. I am blessed in knowing that today’s generation of former child stars has accepted the challenge of protecting the interests of their peer group…not for selfish reasons…but because they understand.

Please embrace the changes that lie ahead, my friends. I leave you with the words of Tom Joad speaking in The Grapes of Wrath: “Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’—I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry n’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build—why, I’ll be there”.

Paul Petersen