Dealing with Celebrity Sex Offenders

When a celebrity is a sex offender, the victim doesn’t have the option of simply avoiding them.

I turned on the TV this morning, and as I was flicking through channels, Robert’s face popped up.

After leaving Hey Dad..! he mainly did voice over work, but he had a tiny part in a C grade movie called Race The Sun. It was about a group of Hawaiian kids who built a solar car. Anyway, since it’s an American movie that was filmed in Australia, they play it here, and it means that when I am randomly flicking through channels, I am subjected to hearing his voice, and seeing his face. Even though I no longer live in Australia, there’s still the potential of me having to see him, when I least expect it.

Thankfully, I’m pretty good at dealing with it. It’s not really a huge trigger for me anymore. (Well, today was ok) But it got me thinking about all the other people out there who are unable to avoid their perps, and how there’s always debate about celebrity sex offenders, and whether they should be allowed to continue to work.

It’s a tough question. I think it’s a shame for an entire body of work to be wiped from history simply because one person in the production was a terrible human being. Should all the cast from 7th Heaven never receive royalty cheques again because the dad molested a few girls? Should Hey Dad be wiped from TV because of Robert? What about the Cosby Show? Can we no longer listen to Six White Boomers at Xmas because of Rolf Harris? Should we avoid all movies directed by Roman Polanski, Woody Allan, Victor Salva and Bryan Singer?

I think each person has to decide for themselves. I thought 7th Heaven was cheesey, I never watched myself on Hey Dad, and Cosby always gave me the shits. However, millions of other people loved these shows. But, what about the other cast members. Is it their fault that the male stars here thought they were above the law, and didn’t keep their perverted sexual desires in check? Are we punishing an entire production by boycotting a show because of one person? Sometimes I feel like it’s not fair to the other people associated with a show. I think it’s not fair to Simone Buchanan and Ben Oxenbould that they can’t proudly display Hey Dad clips on their resumes because of something that Robert Hughes did. I feel bad for 7th Heaven cast members who rely on that residual income. I feel sorry for The Cosby kids who have to answer questions about Cosby when they’re trying to do interviews about something completely unrelated.

Then, Robert pops up on my TV.

racethesun

My brain goes from trying to be the impartial person, right back to seeing it from the view of anyone who has dealt with a celebrity sex offender. Even when I move overseas, I may still be subjected to seeing that trigger. Anyone who has dealt with a celebrity sex offender could be subjected to their attacker at any point. Even if they avoid their movies, or make a point not to turn on the TV when their show is on, at any point, while flicking through channels, that person could pop up. It might be on E! News, or a TV commercial, or on a random talk show. The only thing the person can do, besides refusing to watch any form of media, is to learn to deal with the trigger. Some people can, and some can’t. Some people need more time, and some don’t have access to the resources that will help them heal from that trauma.

So what’s the answer? I’m not really sure. Maybe there’s a balance. I think that while old stuff, pre-knowledge of sexual offending might be OK to keep showing, for the sake of other actors/crew, and let the public decide if they want to watch, I think that going forward, the offender should be barred from more public work. If you’re a celebrity sex offender, you shouldn’t get to keep putting your name out there. You shouldn’t be able to keep putting your face on TV, or work in movies. You shouldn’t be allowed to be glamorized, and continue to work in the industry. You shouldn’t be rewarded, while your victims have to keep seeing your face, or your name, or hear your voice, over and over, forever and ever.

It’s not just for the victims of these celebrities, but for anyone who was a victim of anyone. Seeing someone convicted of a sex crime be rewarded with work, or strutting down a red carpet sends a horrible message to victims everywhere. While the victim lives with the act forever, and has to learn to heal, the perp is out and about, living a glamorous life, being glorified, and everyone forgiving them. It doesn’t inspire victims to speak up, or try to do anything about their molester. Why bother going through the drama of police investigation, court, etc if the person if just going to go straight back to normal life afterwards? As much as I hate that we all look to Hollywood for life inspiration, we do. If people see that celebrity sex offenders aren’t punished, people will wonder what chance they have of their own perps getting punished, celebrity or not.

Even if I was still working in the industry, I would choose not to work with a sex offender. I would never make a film with Roman Polanski or Woody Allan, or even alleged sex offender Bryan Singer. That’s something that each person still working in the industry has to decide for themselves, but I know where I stand.

What about you? Do you think there’s an answer? How would you deal with it? Let them keep working, boycott all their work? Would you work with a celebrity sex offender on a production? Is art more important? Or are victims the priority? Is there a balance?

Share

Royal Commission looking at the Entertainment Industry

Royal Commission turning the spotlight on the Entertainment Industry

When the Royal Commission was announced a few years ago, we wondered if they would also be looking at the Entertainment Industry. Some people indicated it would only be looking at “institutions” but if the industry isn’t an institution, then I don’t know what is.

After my own ordeal, and of course following all the cases in the UK with Operation Yewtree, as well as hearing about the plethora of cases in the US, it’s fairly obvious, at least to me, that the entertainment industry needs a spotlight to look into some of the darker corners. It would be very naive to think that I was the only case in the Australian entertainment industry. When I went public, I received many messages of support from others who understood, because they too had been through a similar ordeal on a set.

I am thrilled that the Royal Commission has announced that they are seeking others who may have been abused within the industry, and are calling for them to come forward to talk. Even if you weren’t a victim yourself, if you have information on abuses within the industry, please contact the commission, and let them know. Your evidence could help others. It’s not just for television. Here’s their scope: “Institutions within the Royal Commission’s scope may include television networks, film and television production companies, theatrical production companies, dance, drama and performing arts schools or colleges, casting agencies or any other company, agency or organisation, public or private involved in the entertainment industry.”

Here’s the link to the official announcement, which contains the contact details for the commission. I encourage anyone who can help the commission to come forward.

You can contact the Royal Commission via: Phone: 1800 099 340, Email:solicitor@childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au, or Mail: GPO Box 5283, Sydney NSW 2001.

For more information on the Royal Commission please visit our websitewww.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au

 

 

Share

Residuals

Can actors live off residuals forever?

There seems to be a perception that an actor can live off residual cheques forever. It’s a common misperception. Yes, there are a few actors who do live quite well with the added residual income cheques, but there are very few who can live off just that income. Especially if you’re from an older show that had a contract written before new technology.

Another child actor friend of mine had started a discussion today within our group asking about residuals. I always love hearing from my US counterparts, because the laws are set up so differently here. Or at least I thought. Seems a lot of them with older contracts also got screwed out of money. Sometimes they post up pics of the cheques they do get, so we can all have a laugh and commiserate together. Some people get an actual cheque for $0.10 or less. It’s not even worth the paper it was written on.

After seeing the discussion today, it got me thinking about the last time the Hey Dad cast got a cheque. It was before I turned 21, and I bought a watch with it, which I still have. It was a Tag Heuer, and it was on a crazy sale for under $500. I had been eyeing it for months, and when I got that cheque, I cashed it, and got me that watch. I think that cheque was for $800, so I spent the rest on something responsible like rent and groceries.

Our contracts were from the 1970’s. There was no electronic media back then. Nobody knew what a DVD was. Cable wasn’t in Australia yet. They had it written in that we would get a few rounds of residuals from overseas sales, and repeats. A lot of older US contracts were updated to reflect that shows are now run constantly on cable, and are also being put into box sets. Some even reflect digital usage.

Somehow, that never happened in Australia. We thought maybe since it had been shown on Comedy Classics channel on cable, there might be something owed there, but apparently, we were all shit out of luck.  Nothing from all the local channels that played it for years either. All the foreign residuals were also out of contract it seemed. I wasn’t even really aware that we had a box DVD set until Gary Reilly sent me an email, asking for a current address, as there may have been money owed to us. My next trip to Australia, I took my brother to the store with me to show him, because he didn’t believe me, and Matt bought a set, so I know they sold at least one DVD set. 

Then, I didn’t hear anything for a long time, so I contacted Gary again, making sure things didn’t get lost in the international post. Gary said there had “been an error” and that even though there was now two box sets in Australia, and Germany released four different box sets, we wouldn’t be getting any money.  When we got together for that episode of Where Are They Know, we had a discussion at dinner, to see if anybody have ever received anything. None of us had. Worse than that, Chris Truswell got excited because he had money sent to from the union, and then they said there had been an error, and it belonged to someone else. We wondered how it was that even with old contracts, the show could be sold over and over again, and us actors were getting nothing for it. I’m glad to know it’s way more common than just Australian shows getting fucked. (I had heard the cast of Prisoner also kicked up a stink about not getting anything when they were sold off on DVD)

Of course, nobody is going to buy these DVD sets now. (I think I sealed that deal 😉 ) Although there are a couple of sets available on Amazon in the US and the UK.  (Do they even know what the show was?) I’m not bitter about it, because it was probably only pennies we would have gotten anyway. It’s just an observation that I made today that actors make a lot less money than people think they do. Shit, I made more in the military per week than I ever did on Hey Dad..! I’m guessing Gary made a pretty penny as the producer though. If I ever go back to the industry, I’m going to be a producer. They’ve got the money and the power.

So next time you see an actor out and about, especially if they’re working a second job, be nice to them. Understand that they probably don’t just blow through all their money on booze and drugs. Some of them just never got that money in the first place to start the party with. Not everyone makes Charlie Sheen money.

Of course, if anyone from the media union in Oz is reading this, I’m sure the rest of the cast would appreciate it if you looked into where their residual money is.

Share

Seriously John Laws?

John Laws, the dinosaur.

So John Laws, the man who has been on air since Moses parted the red sea, has once again had an appalling interview on air with a victim of child sexual abuse. You can listen here.

I don’t understand why this guy is allowed to get away with it. If it had been Kyle Sandilands, there would have been mass outrage. People would be boycotting the station. Advertisers would be pulling their ads. Which was ridiculous, because Kyle wasn’t at fault in that interview at all. I lay full blame on the mother in that instance. He blurted out one sentence, realized what he said, and they pulled the interview. He was mortified afterwards, and he was burned at the stake.

Somehow though, when John Laws has 10 minute long interviews, berating a victim, asking why he didn’t come forward sooner, or why he didn’t call out, or any number of other insensitive statements, he’s allowed to get away with it. Concluding that the caller had simply wasted his time. He suggested the caller go to the pub and have a lemonade, before asking for a Thank You.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Well, he did do a guest spot on Hey Dad..!

Update: Matt Young’s article on news.com.au has a clip with just the interview, so you don’t have to listen to the whole show.

http://www.news.com.au/video/id-VvcXkydDovDF7jYKlthZjwE2uOG4mcKD/Is-this-John-Laws’-worst-interview-ever?

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 4.11.55 PM

 

Share

Former Friends

Or better put, Friends who are Formers

I had a little rant yesterday about faux friends, but it’s not all bad. I have been lucky enough over the last few years to make some really good friends.

It’s kinda weird being an expat. You have a completely different background to other people. There may be some common ground as an adult, and you may learn about the locals culture, but you never lived it, so it will always be different.

It’s kinda the same thing with being a child actor. You had a completely different experience growing up to everyone else. Lots of former kid stars leave the industry and end up with regular jobs, but they don’t share that bond with other people of regular childhood experiences.

I get a double whammy of not growing up in the US, and even in Oz, I didn’t have the normal childhood experience. I have been lucky however to find other Expats to share time with, and even more exciting, other former child stars.

There’s not a lot of child actors in Australia. Maybe the kids from Secret Valley, Henderson Kids, Home & Away, but most are older, not young kids. Kate Ritchie, Rebecca Smart and Jamie Croft were about the only kids my age actively working when I was a kid. The kids in the US are lucky that with so many TV stations, they had a bunch of kids to share experiences with.

The kids in the US are even luckier, because they have set up groups to help try and protect them, to support them, and to just let them know there’s people there for them. I first found A Minor Consideration a few years ago. It’s founded by Paul Peterson, who was a teen idol, and probably best known for his work on The Donna Reed Show. I had written him an email letting him know I thought what he was doing was awesome, and I wished we had that kind of group in Australia. Fast forward a couple of years, and I now have a bunch of the most incredible people I can call friends. Others who share the odd experience of growing up on TV. Some also share the experience of being abused while working on TV.

In the middle of the trial, when I thought my world was going to fall apart, I got this:

heartswithyou
These guys are amazing. When I first met them, they had no idea who I was. Nobody in the US has seen Hey Dad..! I never imagined they wold take me in as one of their own. Yet, they did. They sent me messages of support throughout the months leading up to the trial. I went to LA and met a bunch of them in person at a get together, where I was made to feel like part of  a community. It didn’t matter I was a foreigner. We all shared some strange bond of growing up in the limelight, and I had many of them thanking me for going public, and trying to take a stand for all the kids who had been abused in the industry. Unfortunately the US has a statute of limitations, and by the time some found their courage to talk, the time had passed. Others thankfully had wonderful experiences growing up in the industry, and it was good to hear those stories too.

I’m pretty damn excited that later this month I’m headed to LA for the weekend and I get to hang out with these guys again. I feel very lucky to have met such a wonderful group of people.

Paul Peterson is retiring soon, and some of us are going to try to fill his big shoes. I’ve suggested that after my incredible experience, we have an international division, which was greeted with a big yes. So if you’re another former kid star, or a current child actor or entertainer who needs someone to talk to, even if it’s via email, let us know. A Minor Consideration and it’s members have been the most amazing group, and some days, I honestly don’t know if I could have made it through this without them. These guys are not just other former child stars, they’re my heroes.

A Minor Consideration can be contacted via their website or on FaceBook 

A Minor Consideration isn’t just a social group. Paul and the others work tirelessly to help change laws to protect child entertainers. People think child stars have it all, but as my case has proved, sometimes they really need people to step up and help out.

Share

Victim Impact Statements

Sentencing and Victim Impact statements

I was watching twitter last night, waiting to see details of what I would be missing in court. I’m back in Texas, and couldn’t attend the start of the sentencing. I had only written my Victim Impact Statement several hours before, and emailed it to the DPP. I had been putting it off. It was incredibly hard to write. Way more confronting than what I expected. I left me feeling raw and exposed. It was a big milestone for me though, because I actually asked one of the people in my office, a former police officer, if I should write it at all, and when he said yes, I took a deep breath and asked if he would help. I’m not good at asking for help. He knew how hard that was for me. He warned me that it was going to be tough, because this wasn’t so much about Robert, as it was a confession to myself. It was going to be hard admitting all those feelings on paper, to say that it has affected me. I’ve been good at hiding it and pretending everything is OK. I had to actually sit down and really think about the ways Robert has changed my life, and acknowledge it.

I only wrote 2.5 pages. My 1SG only had me change a couple words, and flip one sentence, and thought it was good. I didn’t show it to anyone else here though. I worried about it being read out in court. They all were, and while I was worried, I think afterwards I was glad people could see what an impact Robert has had on all of us. I was reading the live tweets. I was outside with Matt, and all he heard was, “Oh God”, and turned around to see a tear rolling down my eye. I read him the line from one of the other girls. santatweetIt says, “As a child, I never wanted Santa to come into my room at night to leave presents”

I think this may be one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. I don’t believe in God, but I love Santa. To think a child was so terrified of people they didn’t even want Santa to come at Christmas is just fucking heartbreaking. I’m sure Robert is too arrogant to care that he broke little pieces off all of us, but I hope he was listening yesterday. I hope when he gets back to prison, he understand our words. I hope he comes to understand the meaning of No Means No, and what it’s like to be terrified of being assaulted by someone else who is higher up the food chain in prison.

I was watching the tweets, and Jodie told me “Very intense stuff. Lots of parallels between different victims’ statements re: effects and feelings”.  One man had such a profound effect on so many people. I wonder how many other girls he has destroyed. There were more of us. Some came forward and couldn’t get charges, some chose not to be a part of the process.  Some are still living in denial, because that’s easier for them. I won’t judge anyone. People have to deal with it the best way they know how.

While Robert wasn’t sentenced yesterday – he comes back on the 16th for the final sentencing, Max Clifford also went to court yesterday.

He was sentenced. He has been given eight years. Max’s charges were also historical, and much shorter than if he were to be charged for offenses now. It was interesting to read snippets of the statements that were given in his case too. I had stated that because of Robert, I could never go back to the industry. One of Max’s victims had similar sentiments: A woman who appeared as an extra in the James Bond film Octopussy had given up on pursuing her career after she was abused in the early 1980s, the court heard. “She aspired to be a stunt double in films but could not follow her dream after what happened to her,” Ms Cottage told the court.

Both sets of girls told of how they would never forget what happened, how they had been robbed of their innocence. How they had their happiness stolen from them. I’m glad that laws have changed, and that sentences are longer now. Victims have to live with it forever. Why should the bastards only get a couple of years?

I told Matt yesterday I just wanted this to all be over. I don’t want to wait another 2 weeks. He said it’s been 4 years, what’s another 2 weeks? I know in the long term, it won’t make much difference. Maybe it’s good, because now Robert has 2 weeks to sit in his cell and think about all the things we said. But I do look forward to when I don’t have to worry about seeing it on the news. When I don’t have to sit glued to my desk, watching it all unfold. I know I could just step back, but I can’t. I know that Robert will always have a part of my soul, but I’ll be glad when he no longer has a part of my daily dealings with life. I’m sure there’s a few of us that are looking forward to the 16th. I know he won’t get a long sentence. It’s all historical. I do hope they give him the maximums for those old sentences though. Maybe then, he can live the rest of his life being affected by us, they way we’ll all have to carry a piece of him to our graves.

Share

Congratulations Julie and Adam!

Julie McGregor got married!

Betty Wilson getting marriedMost of you know her as “Betty” and some of you may remember the infamous Hey Dad..! episode where Betty was supposed to marry long time fiancé Stan.

In real life however, this past weekend, Julie McGregor married long time beau, Adam. I wish I could have made the trip back home for the wedding, but I didn’t want to sour a happy occasion by having it get turned into an excuse for paparazzi to bring up the recent events….

Simone flew up from Melbourne and she messaged me and told me it was a beautiful day. I’m looking forward to seeing the pics online. I think there’s going to be a spread in Woman’s Day, so I’ll have to order a copy of the mag online.

So Congratulations to Julie and Adam. I hope you two are as happy as Matt and I am. I can’t wait to see you guys as Mr and Mrs when I come home next.

Share