The Academy doesn’t care about kids

The pinnacle of awards season, the Oscars, was last night.

I didn’t watch. I had no desire to watch a bunch of people who live in gated communities, wearing gifted gowns and jewellery, get up on stage and pat each other on the back between political speeches.

The Oscars have descended into the most boring political event on television. I was especially wary this year about the hypocrisy of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. If I had to watch Meryl give a speech about standing up for women in the industry after seeing her give a standing ovation to Roman Polanski just a few years before she called Weinstein God, I may have punched the television.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no beef with #MeToo or #TimesUp. I think both are long overdue. I’m glad we’re standing up. But, at the same time, why are we giving such loud voices to those who weren’t really with us before, and we’re totally ignoring those who were actually screaming for help and equality before it became the cause du jour?

The Coogan Law, which protects the money children earn while working in entertainment, is only enacted in four US states. California, New York, Louisiana and New Mexico. Meanwhile, Georgia has become the new hub of the movie industry. No child labor laws or money worries there. And don’t get me started on reality TV….

Minors employed as actors or performers in motion pictures or theatrical productions, or in radio or television productions are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) coverage. Therefore, FLSA rules regarding total allowable number of work hours in one day and allowable times of day to work do not apply. Basically, this means that while you can’t have your kids work in your restaurant, on the farm, or thankfully send your kids to work in a sweatshop, you can have them working at 2am, in the freezing cold, on a movie set.

So basically, you can work the hell out of kids on set, and they’re not even guaranteed to keep any of that money they’re working so hard for.

While Paul Petersen and Alison Arngrim have been fighting in the trenches, going to Washington DC, campaigning for safer environments for kids, where were all these A List stars? There are minors working on so many films. Where were their co-stars when kids were being abused? I don’t see any of them trying to help enact laws, trying to make change. They’re calling for safer places for adult women, but they still don’t seem to worry too much about the small kids working with them on set. The little people who actually need help and protection from other people. They haven’t learnt to speak up for themselves yet. Or worse, because they’re kids, they’re told to be seen and not heard.

Then, last night, the Oscars confirmed they don’t give a shit about kids.

I woke up to all my friends on FB talking about the “In Memoriam” section. It’s always controversial, and people are always left out. But there was two that were particularly glaring.

Heather Menzies, who played Louisa Von Trapp in the Sound of Music was snubbed. This makes her the second of the Von Trapp kids forgotten by the academy.

Maybe it was an oversight. Maybe the academy felt she wasn’t in enough films to warrant a mention. Maybe they felt she was better known as a TV actress, since she went on to a lot of television. Still, Sound of Music is a pretty timeless classic, so one would expect a star of that film to get a moment.

But then there’s Rose Marie.


Rose Marie started her career in 1929, the year the Oscars started. She was at the first one, with her first film. She has been working ever since. That’s right, she had been a working actress for 90 years. She was so famous, she doesn’t even need a last name.

In 1951, she had her musical numbers cut from the film Top Banana, after she refused a producers sexual advances. She later said it was thankfully the only time she had experienced sexual harassment in her nine decades in the industry. She was however active on Twitter, offering support to other women who had experienced harassment.

But after 90 years of singing, acting and dancing, you’d think you’d at least get a mention in the “In Memoriam” right? Well, maybe someone forgot her? Maybe the people choosing the names were too young to know her. Um, no. Her former publicist submitted her name three times to the Academy to make sure she wasn’t forgotten.

So was it a mistake? Was it a snub? Was it because she had publicly outed a producer all those years ago? Or was it because she started out as “Baby Rose Marie” and people who start as kids never seem to get remembered. – They also forgot to include Corey Haim back when he passed.

Here’s the thing, if you want kids in your movie, then you’ve got to give them the same courtesies you give adults.

Fair pay, a safe workplace, and some respect. If you can’t give them that while they’re working, at least light a candle for them when they go.

If you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to help kids on set, look into charities like A Minor Consideration. Paul Petersen started AMC with the intent to change laws, and help those ones who have already been through it all.




Vale Erin Moran

The indignity of dying away from the spotlight.

Erin Moran

This week, the world lost Erin Moran. Erin was best known as Joanie from Happy Days, and then Joanie Loves Chachi.

A lot of my friends simply knew her as Erin, a fellow former child star, and good friend.

I never got to meet Erin personally, as like me, she didn’t live in LA. She had stepped away from the spotlight, and moved to Indiana. She did keep in touch with all of her friends in LA though. Many of them knew she had cancer, as Erin had told them, but asked them not to share it with the world.

Erin, like many of us, went through some rough patches. ALL of us have had shitty moments, or bad times. The difference when you’re famous is, is that the whole world knows about it. There’s something about being a child star that the tabloids are just drawn to when it comes to having a bad moment. I think some editors find it orgasmic to show a Disney star looking drunk, or being sloppy. They expect us to have drug problems, DUI’s and bad relationships. If you’re one of the many child stars who move on and go about life quietly, there’s almost a sheer disdain for how boring you are. Places like TMZ would have you believe that every child actor is a train wreck, but in reality, there are hundreds that end up just fine. You just don’t hear about them. But if you’re a kid star that fucks up even once, the public is going to hear about it forever. That one night that most people can hide and move on from will come back and haunt you constantly. People will bring it up over and over. In Erin’s case, even when she died.

Erin died of cancer. She knew she had it. Her friends knew she had it. The public didn’t though, and neither did the tabloids. So when she died, the media immediately brought up her past, and speculated that she died broke and penniless and from a drug overdose. These days, it’s not about getting the story right, it’s about being first. Fuck the memory of the person you’re covering, and screw the feelings of her friends and family.

Its tragic that as a child star, you can’t even die with dignity.

Its sad for Erin. It’s also a sobering moment for all the other child actors out there. Watching the speculation over Erin, I imagine every other child actor having that moment of “when I die, will they bring up every bad moment of my past?”

Child actors are people too. We have feelings. We have souls. We have good days and bad days, just like regular people. (Cause we ARE people, we just had jobs as kids)

Just because someone no longer works in Hollywood doesn’t mean they can’t work anymore. Many actually choose to leave, and they also choose not to share every moment of their lives with the world. We should respect that. We should also respect that when someone dies, we say nice things about them, like we do all the other people you know, and not assume they bottomed out and died disgracefully.

Erin Moran and Scott Baio

Don’t be like Scott Baio and put your foot in your mouth when a former co-worker dies. Even if they DID once have a problem, you can still be polite. It’s hard when someone sticks a microphone in your face before you know the facts, but maybe take a deep breath, say something kind, and sit back and wait for the truth. You don’t need to be the asshole.

It’s only April, and I’m sure there will be more celebrity deaths this year. Maybe we can all honor Erin’s memory by learning from the coverage of her death, and be a little nicer to the next person who goes.

RIP Erin. May all your future days be happy.