Wednesday, May 14, 2008

They're your kids, not your clients

There should be a special place in hell reserved for stage parents. They should spend all eternity having to watch Hillary Clinton star as GYPSY and do her own singing.

The latest example of this unique form of child abuse is AMERICAN IDOL hopeful David Archuleta’s overbearing father being banned from rehearsals. No wonder when little David has to speak he sounds like a whipped puppy. You would too if your dad was the Great Santini. It’s hard enough to sing “Imagine” but when your dad is bouncing a basketball off your head during rehearsal it must really be tough.

Under the guise of “only wanting the best for their children” these parents drive their little meal tickets so hard that most wind up totally fucked up and the lucky few turn out like Brian Wilson . Social Services, please, take these kids away before they’re cast in ANNIE!

If Michael Jackson didn’t have the stage father from hell I’m sure he would have had a different life… and face.

You hear stories of toddlers standing in audition lines, 2 year olds wearing tiaras. Judy Garland was on diets and pills before she was old enough to smoke (seven).

A few years ago I went to an AMERICAN IDOL dress rehearsal and met the contestants in the make-up room. Diana DeGarmo had one of these hovering oppressive mothers. The AI staff member introduced me and mentioned some of my credits. All of the kids feigned giving a shit, politely said hello, and I left. Two minutes later Diana DeGarmo literally came sprinting down the hallway after me. She shook my hand, said what a pleasure it was to meet me, couldn’t have been more effusive and bubbly. And as she was doing this all I kept thinking was, “I bet her mother said ‘Diana, didn’t you hear what they just said? He’s a Hollywood PRODUCER. Get your ass out there and introduce yourself to that fucking idiot NOW!'”

I felt so sorry for her. As I do for all those kids who have auditioned for me over the years.

Whenever there’s a casting call, there they are – little robots just out of school, nicely dressed, sitting obediently in a room while their stage parents read VARIETY, check their Blackberrys for callbacks, and scream at agents on their cellphones. Meanwhile, these kids’ classmates are playing baseball, hanging out in the mall, ripping people on Facebook, drinking when no one’s looking -- you know, normal healthy kid activities.

And sometimes when the choice is down to two and they’re pretty equal I choose the one who I think would be screamed at the loudest if he didn’t get the part. How sad is that?

And the “lucky” ones who get the roles don’t get off too easy either.

I directed a few episodes of a series that featured a kid. He was a grizzled world-weary middle-aged man trapped inside the body of an eight-year-old. That was ten years ago. Today he’s probably golfing with Henry Kissinger.

The loss of childhood is not worth becoming an American Idol or a New Mouseketeer. In the name of all that’s decent and Natalie Wood, let your kids be kids. Let them have their own dreams.

Note to Mr. Archuleta: one loving father is worth more than 30,000,000 votes.


Anonymous said...

It's definitely an unnatural life for a kid, even when the parents aren't monsters. So what's the answer? Don't write parts for anyone under 18 or so? Make psychological testing (for both child and parents) part of the audition process?

It doesn't help that there's now a big market for casualties of child stardom. VH1 and E! might go out of business without it.

Bitter Animator said...

While I agree with you on pushy parents, I don't subscribe to the idea that Michael Jackson is a nutjob who may or may not be into kids just because he had a bad childhood. There are other people in that family who seem bizarrely sensible. By showbiz standards I mean. Like Jermaine perhaps. They all had the same father.

I think some people are just predisposed to being nutjobs.

Anonymous said...

Back 20 years ago when I was producing stuff for a "Hollywood Legend" (who really was and shall remain unnamed), I had the un-privilege of getting to know a few of these kids and their parents. My own childhood was no bed of roses, let me assure you (if it wasn't for my chiropractor over the past 15 years, I'd be in a wheelchair from the fact that my memories of being thrown against the wall weren't childhood fantasies), but compared to the monsters sitting there in the hallway, my childhood was a Sunday school picnic.

I think the only one of those kids who ever came out only 50% fucked up was Jody Foster. Note how all the others (Bitney Spears, etc.) had to eventually get themselves declared "emancipated" and then get restraining orders against their parents to get what passes for a "life."

It goes back to Jackie Coogan, who got a law named after him to keep the goddamned worthless pieces of shit these kids are related to from stealing them blind (Coogan's parents did steal him blind).

Personally, I haven't met one of these worthless losers living their lives over through their kids who wouldn't improve society by being hanged from the nearest street light and being left to rot off the rope.

The number of their kids who survive without being ready for a rubber room can be numbered on one hand without using all your digits.

Just another reason why this place is Okeefenokee West.

Anonymous said...

hear hear!

Alicia said...

Like jbryant said though... what's the answer?

There will always be a need for children in some way or another (Plays, musicals, movies, TV).

And I understand your reasoning Ken for picking the child who would have gotten yelled at more for not getting the part, but isn't that just feeding into the cycle?

Anonymous said...

Amen. Outside of Ron and Clint Howard, I can't think of a single childhood star who didn't end up scarred for life by the experience.

And bitter, check out this recent rundown of how the Jackson's brood is doing these days.

The "bizzarely sensible" Jermaine "splits time between the parents home and his girlfriend's home. He has more than $5 million in federal, state and other liens against him and a 1995 bankruptcy filing. He does not work and is still involved in a messy, protracted divorce."

I'll stick with my parents.

Anonymous said...

Outside of Ron and Clint Howard, I can't think of a single childhood star who didn't end up scarred for life by the experience.

The kids from The Wonder Years seem to have turned out quite nicely.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This blog is a consistently brilliant read day in, day out, it's so funny. This post however is just depressing. It's one of your best though.

Anonymous said...

In the world of child stars, I believe “culkin’” is a gerund meaning to protest that, other than the fact there was no inappropriate sexual contact, your relationship with Michael Jackson was totally normal [see also tayloring].

And does your mother’s 24-hr. labor followed by Caesarian predispose one to sulk in his/her trailer until forcibly removed by a faux-apologetic executive producer? Why does the meter of certain names trigger a song in one’s head that just won’t go away? With me it’s Shuffle off to Buffalo:

That’s when Jeffrey Archuleta
Still pursuing his vendetta
Flashed the ol’ skunk-eye.

Terese Ramin said...

Amen and well said.


Doug Walsh said...

Great post, Ken!

Alicia, I think the answer is to let your kids find their way and support them passively in whatever it is. If they want to get into BMX racing, buy them a bike helmet; if they want to take music lessons, help them buy an instrument but know the difference between encouraging them to practice and being a nag. And if they want to be in front of the camera, tell them "You're too young for porn" then go buy them a baseball or a jump-rope.

The Minstrel Boy said...

i became a member of the musician's union when i was nine. by the time i was 12 i wasn't even a kiddie act anymore.

show business is hard enough on adults, on kids it is plain ass murder. pure and simple.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever written a part for a kid? Did you feel guilty about it?

Anonymous said...

APA: did you ,,/i. Ken's original post?

If so, to whom are you addressing yur question?

Unknown said...

I was recently thinking about child stars and our relationship to them when the Miley Cirus/Vanity Fair kerfuffle happened. When I saw the photo, my first impression was nice pic, artsy, what's the big deal.

The more I thought about her age the more I realized that I am not comfortable with 15 year olds being portrayed in such a sexy way. I don't think most people are comfortable with the idea of 15 year olds being in such provocative shots.

Vanity Fair/Leibowitz defence was that Cyrus' adult reps/parents were at the shoot and no one saw the pose as inappropriate. I think that you have hit the nail on the head on why they (child star parents/guardians) and often the public have a skewed view of what is age appropriate behaviour for these kids.

Child stars are not kids. They can't be because their life experiences age them beyond their years. Our initial response to the exploits of teen stars is often fascination and titillation when if we witnessed the same behaviour by our kids or the children in our social circle we would be concerned and in some cases horrified.

Given that you are a producer, is there not some way for the industry to mitigate this cycle? Certainly barring stage parents is one option. I can appreciate that you sometimes give the part to the talented kid that is more likely to get yelled at for failing but doesn't that just ensure that the stage parent's tyranny and abuse will continue? It may not be enough the the industry to have laws protecting child actor finances, access to schooling, etc. Perhaps there needs to be rules to try and explicitly protect the emotional and psychological health of working children.

Anonymous said...

I think as a parent there is a fine line between being overbearing and just looking out for your child's best interests.

It seems to me that stage mothers/fathers are people who thought they themselves had the talent to be stars, but for whatever reasons it never worked out.

They are living vicariously through their kids. I'm sure most of these kids would rather be home playing with their friends than going from audition to audition.

VP81955 said...

Melissa Joan Hart seems to have turned out all right.

Of course, on the other hand (using a sports reference), you have Todd Marinovich...

Mary Stella said...

Given that you are a producer, is there not some way for the industry to mitigate this cycle?

The kids have to work with a tutor for a certain number of hours per day. While the kids are in school, maybe the parents should be in helpful therapy sessions.

Cap'n Bob said...

Hey, I'm fucked up and I wasn't in show biz as a child. I feel cheated.

This Space Left Intentionally _________. said...

Jesus, Ken. What is not a child worth if not to exploit for gold and your own unfulfilled thirst for fame and fortune?

So what if the kid ends up bitter and jaded and a drug addict by age 15, they're my ticket to a great retirement at age 40. My parents promised me a better life than they had and I'm going to get it, even if it means stepping on the back of my own kid to do so.

The next thing you'll suggest is that I act like a real parent and not my kid's buddy/entourage/agent.

Anonymous said...

Most people love to see talented kids perform, some kids love to perform AND are talented - there SHOULD be a way to bring this supply and demand together, shouldn't there?

Damned if I know the solution - but it seems to me part of the problem is that child actors are treated too much like adult actors - the brutal dog-eat-dog nature of the acting trade ( especially the auditioning process) is probably what brings out the worst in the parents.

What is kind of unfortunate is that since so much time/money effort it put into any given project - kids are given an adult's responsibility in HAVING to complete it whether they want to or not - that is not the norm at all for modern-era children.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least Miley is 15. That whole Jonbennet Ramsey thing, the beauty contests for REAL little kids, even more disturbing. Then of course we have the nut-job parents at the Little League games too, assaulting umpires and stuff. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

If there were no kid actors, the Oakwood Apartments on Barham would go out of business!

(sorry about the flaky coding and spelling in my earlier post)

Anonymous said...

te: That Taco Bell on Barham needs to get some new head shots from the Oakwood kids already. They've still got, like, Jonathan Jackson and Smallville's Alison Mack tacked up there, from when they were whippersnappers. Not only is it odd, it's highly unlikely that these kids grew up still believing that Taco Bell has "the best tacos in town!"

Anonymous said...

"Outside of Ron and Clint Howard, I can't think of a single childhood star who didn't end up scarred for life by the experience."

Patty McCormick, a lovely, grounded, delightful woman, who was starring on Broadway and then in movie of THE BAD SEED as a little girl, and went on to a major child actor career.

Patty's BAD SEED co-star, Nancy Kelly, had been a child star in the 1920s, in silent movies. In her 30s she was winning Tonys, and was another non-neurotic ex-child star.

Bill Mumy is a fine, well-adjusted man these days, the anti-Danny Bonaduce. Was there ever a more talented kid actor than Mumy?

BTW, the mother of Danny Bonaduce (The poster boy for maladjusted ex-child stars) is a friend of mine, a sweet, talented lady, and an ex-TV sitcom writer, and has several non-screwed up grown children in addition to Danny.

Spanky McFarland, though now dead, was certainly never a horror story, though MANY of the OUR GANG kids were.

When I was a kid, I acted in everything I could. I was hungry to be an actor. Sadly, I didn't have stage parents. Badgering my parents to take me to auditions was always a chore, and then they would complain about taking me to rehearsals.

Worst stage mother of all time? The Empress Livia, wife of the Emperor Augustus and the mother of Emperor Tiberius. When all the kids up for a part except one suddenly die, Stage Mom Livia has struck again!

Anonymous said...

Other non-screwed up ex-child stars:

Shirley Temple, unless you consider being a huge Republican "Being screwed up." (Actually, I do.)

Jane Withers.

Veronica Cartwright.

Elijah Wood.

Haley Mills. (Talk about stage parents! Mom was a playwright and Dad one of the greatest stars of the Engish stage and cinema. Sis isn't too bad either.)

Tommy Bond.

Annette Funicello.

Bobby Burgess.

Cubby O'Brian

Pamela Franklin.

Jackie Cooper. (True, he once fired a gun directly at me, but it was in the script, and we both knew it was loaded with blanks.)

I could go on. My point is not that there are not a LOT of EXTREMELY screwed-up child stars (For every Annette Funicello, there may well be a Darlene Gillesppe. Ever been in a room with Mickey Rooney? After ten minutes, I was ready to yell "Jackie, shoot me again, and use bullets this time!"), but that there's plenty of counter-examples: that being a child-star does not mean, ipso-facto, you will be a screwed-up adult. There are other factors, including parents (Not all of whom are horrific stage parents, though there are LOTS of those out there. Boy oh boy are there!), and the kid's own character.

But I would imagine that the non-screwed-up ex-child stars do tire of being tarred under the "All ex-child stars are hopeless fuck ups" cliche.

Anonymous said...

I actually met Spanky McFarland when he gave some sort of lecture in Evansville, Indiana (to the best of my memory this was late 70s or early 80s). Don't remember a thing he said, but he was clearly a very nice, regular guy.

A propos of Ken's blog, Spanky's last credit appears to have been his guest shot on Cheers.

Anonymous said...

And on the other side of the Atlantic there's Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Jamie Waylett, and Bonnie Wright, as well as the other young members of the Harry Potter cast, all of whom appear to work hard, give great performances, and stay out of trouble.

Also over there is Bonnie Langford, best known over here for her child role in Buggsy Malone and her adult role as a companion of Doctor Who in the '80s, who grew up equally well-adjusted.

(I certainly hope the two boys who portrayed Frederick on Frasier turned out well, also.)

Eric Weinstein said...

Never mind the child actor-stage parent stuff...The Great Santini/The Ace/Bull Meecham references made me recall those lonely afternoons in the early 80s watching HBO when my non-stage parents were actually working real jobs making a living and a better life for us.

I prefer that than having a basketball bounced against my head and crying like Michael O'keefe...

Anonymous said...

It's a little early to know how the Harry Potter kids will adjust once the Harry Potter gravy train is over, but Rupert Grint impressed me a few weeks ago, when he expressed his horror of coming to Hollywood and having to associate with Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and their crowd, whom he sensibly found to be appalling people. Certainly Daniel Radcliffe seems to have his head screwed on right.

Anonymous said...

I may be woefully naive, since I'm not connected to show business in any way, but Michael J. Fox strikes me as a former kid-actor who emerged relatively "normal" and unscathed by the experience; ditto for three of the four "Facts of Life" actresses. And maybe a couple of the Brady Bunch kids.

Equally unconscionable as "stage parents", I think, are those who open up their entire lives to the cameras -- Jon and Kate Gosselin and the Roloffs, I'm looking at YOU. At least at the end of a day of work, kids performing in more traditional forums have a chance to unwind and take off their professional "masks" out of the range of the camera lens. The families who open their homes to the reality show cameras may get lots of swag as a benefit. But what the heck are those kids going to think when their most unappealing, awkward, and embarrassing moments are preserved for all eternity, for future dates and in-laws and college professors and employers (etc etc etc) to puruse long after these shows cease to air?

Anonymous said...

"45 is the New 30,"

You must believe the math in your screen name if you think Michael J. Fox is a former child actor. He was 24 when FAMILY TIES went on the air. he wasn't a child; he just played one on TV.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - My apologies. (I'm almost afraid to ask now, but didn't he act in productions as a teen as well, prior to appearing in FT)?

Anonymous said...

Harry Shearer would count as a child actor who went onto a productive adult career

Anonymous said...

Since I was blocked from your e-mail news e-mail, please let me take this opportunity to tell you that the only thing you got right in your article was the part about you were a "fucking idiot"! In fact, friends began to write to me to point out your article, and the subject line had "This asshole is writing about you and doesn't know anything."

My daughter did this business because she wanted to, plain and simple. It was HER idea to do Am. Idol. It was HER idea to perform. And, quite frankly, guess who taught me about the business? FATHERS IN SPORTS!

My son played soccer, and the dads were the worst stage parents on this earth. They tormented the coaches, screamed and hollered, and did anything in their power to guarantee that their precious little boys were the star players their fathers never were!

I couldn't possibly have told Diana to go back and shake the hand of that "fucking idiot producer" because I didn't know who you were, nor do now, nor do I care! My life will go on with or without her music business. I have my own houses, my own money, and my own life.

As a matter of fact, I HAD to quit my job to take her to Am. Idol -- thinking I could return in a few weeks. No, I had to stay 7days a week, 3-1/2 months in order to let her do Am. Idol. Not me doing it. Her! I slept on the bottom bunk of a bus while they toured. I went to Am. Idol one week after knee surgery and sat in the sun for 24 hours. I did it for my daughter! Not for music. Not for you (or to kiss your rear). I did it for the same reason I sat in the sun for hours and watched my son's games or watched him graduate from college, or watched him graduate with honors in the military. I worked for 25 years, 20 hours a day, and slept 3 hours a day. I left work and went home to watch my kids' school games and activities. I did it because it was right. I did it because I was their mother.

And only a moron would say I was living my dream through either one of my kids. My son is in the Army. I suppose you think I wanted to be G.I.JOE, TOO!

To show how meaningless you were to me, I had to look you up on the internet to see who you were. And, quite frankly, I didn't give a damn then, and I still don't! You were no more important, nor less important, than anyone there.

And after reading the vile regurgitations that you call writing, I am sure that whatever child you have will be borderline suicidal at any given time because nothing HE/SHE could do would be up to par for you because you know everything and have something bad to say about EVERYONE! I read your articles. They're all vile and hateful.

My daughter, like my son, was taught to be polite to everyone. She didn't know you, and neither did I. But your super, overinflated ego couldn't accept the fact that nobody CARED who you were! Get it? Nobody cared then or cares now!

You have bashed David's father only for the sake of getting your name in the news and causing friction, plain and simple. Even that shows what a moron you are for not even getting your facts before you write them. Can you say D-rated journalist and writer?

The real child abuser here is YOU! Because you have taught your children to lie about something you know nothing about, to live in a fantasy game world (did you never grow up?), and to make a living off of destroying other people. Don't you know how much YOU hurt David by writing the garbage you write? What an excellent stage parent YOU are! You certainly fit all the examples you gave of what's wrong with a parent, and I feel sorry for someone who has nothing more in life than that to make a living off bashing other people -- all to get your name in the news.

Mom D.

By Ken Levine said...

Mom D,

Thank you for writing. My email is not blocked. You're always welcome to contact me directly.

May I respond to a couple of your points? I don't write these things to get in the news. I have no interest in that and actually never have been in the news.

My children are fine, thank you.

I can understand that through your anger you would perceive my work as vile and hurtful. I would disagree but again, from how you view it I can certainly see where you would get that impression.

I merely reported the incident as I saw it and still believe it to be true. If I'm wrong I do apologize.

I wish you and Diana nothing but happiness and all the best.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Mom D. You didn't report the incident as you saw that would be reality you just conjured up a negative reason why she came out. The real thing is that she is a very nice and polite young lady that mom D has done a wonderful job of bringing up with her head on straight, honors graduate of high school.If Diana had not walked up and showed her respect to you I bet that you would have never highlighted her in this article as you have not included the names of the other contestants who never bothered to get of their asses and show you respect.I think you owe her an apology as well as her Mom. I suggest also you find out how Diana is doing such as featured on Broadways Hairspray as Penny Pingleton, starred as Brooklyn in Brooklyn the Musical on a country tour, Starred as Maria in West Side Story, Debuted at Carnegie Hall last spring. She has turned out to be a magnificent singer,actress dramatic and comedy. She will be a big star why she's got a truckload of talent and producers and directors love working with her because she has her head screwed on on and a worker.No diva crap just business with commitment.lpdkst

Anonymous said...

Well, that's certainly a classy response, Mom D. What a fine example you're setting.

There's an old-fashioned expression about being tasteful in the face of criticism: "heaping coals of fire upon his head." Look into it.

Regarding Michael J. Fox: I think he did a lot of Canadian productions prior to hitting Hollywood. So some stars we don't think of as being child or teen stars -- like Nicole Kidman and Catherine Zeta Jones -- actually are, just not the U.S. variety. Which may be why they never did much worse than have one Botox too many.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Levine:

I did try to answer you on the Huffington Post, and they never cleared my post. (I'm still waiting!)

Did you offend me? Absolutely. And your facts are absolutely wrong. Unlike a lot of other parents, my children were taught to open doors for women or the elderly, treat adults with respect, give back to the community and the world, and to treat people as they would want to be treated. The Golden Rule. Living in the South, saying "Yes, ma'am" and "Yes, sir" is seen as respect, not kissing your rear.

My son and my daughter have met hundreds of important people and also the homeless, and they treat all with respect and kindness. My motto was always the Princess Diana motto: "Treat all people like royalty and with respect." My children have shaken the hands of President Bush, Donald Trump, actors, actresses, producers, and the homeless person on the street -- all without a hidden agenda, but because it was the right thing to do. And I will stand by what I have taught them: Respect!

If anyone has taught them otherwise, it's the entertainment business. Because they're always bashing the parent and taking every dime they can get out of them.

As Mother Theresa says, "If you do good things and people think badly of you, do good things, anyway." And I will continue to believe that what I have taught my children was absolutely right! All you can do as a parent is teach them the right thing to do. Once they are grown and on their own, you let them fly; and what they do with what they are taught is up to them. If Michael Jackson is nuts, it's because Michael Jackson is nuts by choice. It's not his parents. He knows better. If Gary Coleman is nuts, it's because Gary Coleman is nuts. It's not his parents. They have a brain and make their own choices. Since when does the kid not take responsibility for his own actions and his own life? Or is that the American way? If I steal from you, it must be my parents' fault? Wrong! You are who you are because of the choices YOU make.

I watched TV this morning, and it happened to be children's shows Although I never watch them, I suddenly was drawn to watching the spoiled brats that the writers of those shows have portrayed as the average kid in America: throwing things at adults, talking rudely to them, self-centered, and egotistical brats. So who has ruined the kids of America? The writers, not the parents. Are those kids who I would want my children to immitate? Absolutely not!

I was there when Britney Spears' managers were bragging about keeping her mother out of the picture so that they could control her. Well, look at what the end result is? But, of course, now it's the mother's fault.

My son graduated with two majors and on the Dean's list from UGA. Diana graduated with Honors; and, yes, she backed off her music career so that she could finish high school FIRST. So how does that make me a stage parent? Did I expect a lot from my kids? Absolutely. Raise the bar and set the standard! (A speech Diana gave to her elementary school when she was in middle school!)

Diana was pulled out of rehearsals for the finale so that she could type a term paper for a principal who said she would not be given any preferential treatment and would not graduate if the paper was not there by 4 a.m. the next morning. Others at the school were given two weeks. Not Diana. One day! While everyone rehearsed, she typed -- on the very last day to perform before the voting! Because graduating was important to HER! I had gone to the airport to pick up my son, who had flown in from the Army, and pick up clothes for Diana THAT I PAID FOR since nothing had been purchased for her to wear for the finals. So this stage parent wasn't even there and was put in the position of doing for her what should have already been done by someone else! And I was shocked that she was typing instead of rehearsing!

Nor was I ever in the room when she picked out songs. In fact, the parents were left in rooms to wait all day long. I don't recall ANY parent in the room when they selected songs.

My son has spent FOUR tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has his Master's now. He is an officer, a husband, and a GREAT father to his girls. Diana has toured Iraq and 12 countries while entertaining the troops FOR FREE. (We flew together all over the Middle East.) We slept in everything from barracks to tents. Why did I go with her? Because I was her mother, and it was the right thing to do. In fact, there were several reporters there, and I helped them get the interviews they needed when they were having trouble with it. Why? Because it was the right thing to do.

She has visited the injured troops in Germany and Walter Reed. Diana has given HER money and hundreds of hours free to churches, orphanages, and other charitable organizations, never taking credit for any of it. Because, if you do something with a string attached, you've done it for the wrong reason.

She and my son have both feed the homeless, helped with Habitat for Humanity, and have been overall good people! Good citizens.

Why is it that the world is full of kids who are having problems, but it's only the stage parent who gets credit for it? If anything, TV and the entertainment business can take credit for that. You can turn on the TV at any time of day and see sex, booze, drugs, killing, and a world full of sadness. Even Animal Planet is about one animal eating another one these days. Is that what you want your kids to watch?

So were you wrong about what I was doing? Absolutely! I don't remember you at all, and I apologize for that; but we have met and have been introduced to THOUSANDS of people along the Am. Idol trail and over the years. And I can assure you that, if Diana came back and thanked you and shook your hand, it was for no other reason than it was to be polite and was the right thing to do. Plain and simple! And if you think I did it just because you were a producer/writer, then you are 100% wrong. If I did it (and I don't recall ever doing it), it was out of politeness, nothing more. Do I think it's a parent's responsibility to teach their children manners? Absolutely. Where else are they going to learn?

I know this is rambling, but I'm trying to do laundry, answer phones, and do MY life while writing this. And for years I have seen the parent bashed and nobody understand the parent's side, so I wanted to have my say, too.

I hope you understand that slamming David's father is hurting him as much as you claim his father is. He loves his father, and that should be between the two of them. Every reality show wants drama; and while I don't know his father personally, he couldn't have done too bad a job because David seems like the kindest, nicest kid on that show. So if you're going to give him credit for all the bad, are you going to give him credit for all the good that you see in David?

I thank you for the apology, but assure you that you were wrong. And next time we meet I am sure we will shake your hand AGAIN, but it won't be for any other reason other than because it is the right thing to do.

The parents are not the ones killing these kids. It's the business, plain and simple, and because no one tells them, "No." It's hard enough to be a kid without having everything you do viewed under a microscope. It's hard enough to be a parent when everyone is telling them yes, while you're saying no, to what you know to be wrong. It's hard enough to support your kid in this business without being bashed. They don't bash the managers, musicians, or people sucking money out of them -- even though they're the ones doing it. They only bash the parent. If anything, they all have THEIR hidden agenda.

It's all about control. My personal opinion is that the children failing in this business and having problems are because their parents ARE pushed out of the picture, not because they are there; and the child goes out of control. Like Britney says, they just want a piece of her.

So as a "stage" parent, I'll take credit for all the bad that happens in my kids' lives if you'll give me credit for all the good. And I stand by respect, kindness, and manners, which is what we were showing you.

Best regards,
Mom DeGarmo

Anonymous said...

There's a big difference between having a successful career and being a well-adjusted person. In fact, they are unrelated. One can be either, neither, or both. Harry Shearer for instance, is a great, smart, funny performer, but not someone I would want to spend time with offstage, as he often seems surprisingly bitter and unpleasant in interviews. Of course, I have never met most of the various ex-child stars discussed here, so their public reps are all I know. I have met Billy Mumy and Patty McCormick, and they are lovely people to spend time with. I had dinner with Michael J. Fox once (It was before FAMILY TIES began), and he seemed a very sweet guy.

As for Mrs. DeGarmo's rant, she seems unable to realize that the length and vehemence of her response belies it's contents. By halfway through it I found myself horrified on behalf of anyone with the misfortune to be raised by her. Gee, there's something unflattering about you in a blog? Why not just ignore it? Why does she even care what Ken thinks? Isn't success is supposed to be the best revenge?

It's amazing to me that a blog by a renowned comedy writer can attract so many humor-challenged readers. Sticks should be removed from butts before reading.

Anonymous said...

"My children have shaken the hands of President Bush, Donald Trump"

Geeze, maybe she should stop the multi-tasking ("I'm trying to do laundry, answer phones, and do MY life while writing this.") and start shielding her duaghter from contact with slimy, disreputable creeps like Dubya nad Trump.

How terrible that Diane had to do her homework. Shouldn't she just have gotten to graduate without school work, just because she was on TV? (Actually, my last month of high school, 40 years ago, I was appearing in a show in Hollywood, rehearsing a show in Long Beach, doing the school spring musical, singing with a 16-voice group that did, on average, 3 performances a week, and yet those bastard teachers of mine still insisted that I do my own term papers, attend classes, and pass my finals if I wanted to graduate. Poor little Diane.)

A SECOND incredibly long angry rant? Really? Maybe the laundry needs more attention.

Poor little David Archuleta. Yes, as his coronation approaches, and he's overwhelmed by the work involved, and the massive waves of ego boosts leaving hickeys all over his underage butt from the intense butt-kissing, I'm sure he cries himself to sleep each night over blog criticisms of his nutty dad. I hate to think what Mom D has emailed to Joel McHale, that snarky bastard.

Anonymous said...

The rant was based on the fact that people, like the last poster, have no idea what's going on -- however, they just KNOW what the answer is. After listening to people like that for years bash parents who are trying to do something positive, it gets old. And, no, most kids who do "show business" do not go to school (since you haven't been exposed to it in a lot of years). Their parents home school them. She wanted to stay in school and has done more hours than you claim in your "rant" and did it well.

Let's see, based on your premise, though, if I HAD kept her in school, I was trying to make her do too much and had to be a stage parent. If I hadn't kept her in school, I would have tried to have her do too much and would have been a stage parent. And if I did both or either, I DIDN'T have her do too much or maybe too much -- but I was still a stage parent. My point exactly: no matter which way you go you're going to be slammed. And, quite frankly, I'll put my schedule up against the blogger who can actually do laundry and other things any day! After 40 years I would hope so! It was only to explain the length, since you didn't catch on! And, obviously, you didn't do well on your career, because nobody has heard of you, either. And let me guess: You MADE your kids do music and theatre so you could live your life through your kids!

It's people like YOU who hurt David. He's a kid and deserves better; but, then again, he'll probably never read what you had to say, anyway.

Thank goodness!

Anonymous said...

Actually Mom, I never had any kids at all. We gay folks don't usually. We only got the right to marry two days ago. Thanks for assuming. You do a lot of assuming, though not as well as you do your laundry, I hope.

But I have worked as an actor and a writer in show business for 40 years. I've worked on stage, radio, TV, and film for three and a half decades, and appeared with talents as varied as Robin Williams, Groucho Marx, and Andy Kaufman. I've written plays and TV shows. A household name I'm not, but I still get fan email from my readers from all over the world. I retired from acting about 10 years ago for health reasons, and have since devoted myself solely to writing. I've got two books in bookstores now. But again, thanks for assuming.

I don't really care whether Little David does well or not. I'm not emotionally invested in his success or failure. But I agree with you on one thing: David will probably never read my comments, or Ken's either for that matter, which is why I found your comments that he was hurting David inane.

And my original observation still stands: the length and vehemence of, and the additions to, your reply, indeed, that you replied at all, belies what you're saying.

You are a piece of work lady, and that's an observation, not an assumption. Your quite talenterd daughter has my sympathy.

Anonymous said...

I meant of course "your quite talented daughter". The misinterpretable misspelling was an unintended typo.

TCinLA said...

Wel;l, this has been an educational night!

d. mcewan - I gues it takes 40 years to be able to take that level of crap at firehouse hose pressure levels, and just stand there grinning at Momma Dragonlady. Very good.

Momma Dragonlady: have you ever seen "Ordinary People"??? Mary Tyler Moore could hold nothing to you. Ever heard the phrase "the lady doth protest too much"????

But thanks for all the great character ideas, Ms. Dragon.

By Ken Levine said...

Mom D,

I meant you can email me directly.

Anonymous said...

The mom's comments here gloriously answer my long-time question: "Do stage parents realize that they're stage parents?"

And the answer is no.

Long live the vanity google!

~Karen M.

Kenny said...

The best part:

"Even Animal Planet is about one animal eating another one these days. Is that what you want your kids to watch?"

Anonymous said...


Too funny! I should have known you weren't a mother (or a father) and had no idea what it would take to care for someone besides yourself! In short, all you know about David's father is what you have READ. Period. You have bashed every inch of him over hearsay, plain and simple. You know absolutely nothing about that man or that boy.

If someone printed you were a perverted sicko and molested the child actors you worked with and then everyone bashed you, would you understand that? And would you defend yourself? And do you condone gay bashing, too --without any facts?

Whether you like my daughter, my son, me -- or even my dogs -- doesn't really matter. I learned long ago that I answer to God and myself; and for people like you, who spend your whole life spewing venom at every parent in the business and at all the mothers who really do care for their kids, good luck in your la-la world! But it sounds like you are the one with the mother issue.

(And, yes, I taught my kids to love gay people, too. Imagine that?)

And, no, I'm still not impressed with the fact that you "worked with" Robin Williams or anyone else. So what? So that makes you an expert on parents? And you wrote a book? I'm laughing just thinking about it! And you get fanmail? Even I get fanmail, and I'm just a mother!

It's ironic that I just returned home from a "gay" event (and, no, I'm not gay), which was a benefit to help those dieing from aids and cancer feed their pets because they don't have the money and are too ill to care for their pets or themselves. I was asked to help because a lot of the volunteers have quit and won't go into "those areas." (They believe what they read, too; right?) Would I base my opinion on all gay people because of their opinion or yours? No. Do I care whether anyone else thinks I should or shouldn't do it? Nope.

Not that I need your approval or care whether you were the star in Night of the Living Dead or anything else, but there are millions of mothers and fathers in this business (and otherwise) who are doing a great job and don't spend their whole time bashing other people's kids and their parents. There are bad parents in every profession -- and sports has the majority of them.

And if you believe the news about crime, drugs, depression, and suicides increasing in teens, most of them are not in the entertainment business; so who's to blame for them?

But in response to your name calling, all I can say is I'd rather be a dragonlady than a moron.\

And that's just too funny!

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity, how is an event that helps AIDS patients care for their animals "gay"?

Is the AIDS only something that infects the "gays"?

Anonymous said...

Mom dear,

"Too funny! I should have known you weren't a mother (or a father) and had no idea what it would take to care for someone besides yourself!"

Yes, perhaps you should have known, but obtaining facts before opening your mouth is clearly something you never do. Take for instance your claim here that I have no idea what it takes to care for someone besides myself, which would be news to my late mother, as I was the one who took care of her for the 7 years between my dad's death and hers. It would be news to the friends I had who died of AIDS, whom I cared for and aided, and was there for day and night out of only love for them. It would be news to my late friend David, who lived the last two years of his life on my living room sofa, while I took care of him as he slowly died, after his family had rejected him. (His mother was so insane, she makes you look well-adjusted.)

No I know nothing about caring for other people, because gay people are all selfish bastards who live ony for themselves, instead of through - oh, I must have meant "for" - their kids. But I am glad you enjoy my humor.

"You have bashed every inch of him"

No I haven't. There's at least seven or eight inches of him I haven't even touched. Just out of gay curiosity, how many inches does he have? If the answer is above 9, I will stop bashing him altogether, and just concentrate on you.

"And do you condone gay bashing, too --without any facts?"

No, I would need facts before condoning gay bashing, a LOT of facts. That question is just plain loony.

"Whether you like my daughter, my son, me -- or even my dogs -- doesn't really matter."

Actually, I do like your daughter, and I would probably like your dogs, as I have almost never met a dog I didn't instantly love. In any event, your daughter, son, and dogs all have my profoundest sympathies. But if it "doesn't really matter" why are you writing here?

"good luck in your la-la world! But it sounds like you are the one with the mother issue."

Thanks. I thought this place was called "Reseda," but I like "La-La World" much better. My mom and I got on just fine. The only mother I seem to have an "issue" with is you, because these emotionally-disturbed rants keep issuing from you.

"And, no, I'm still not impressed with the fact that you 'worked with' Robin Williams or anyone else. So what? So that makes you an expert on parents? And you wrote a book? I'm laughing just thinking about it!"

Yes, working with Robin made me an expert on parents. That was precisely my point.

I'm so glad you're laughing at my books. (2 books dear, plural. Good thing you didn't home school your daughter, if you can't count to two.) That is what the readers are supposed to do, as they are funny books. You were the one who said I had had no career, so my mention of of some the folks I've worked with over 40 years in show business was merely countering your ignorant assumptions. But I have, of course, worked around horrific stage mothers, and you know something? They all ranted and raved just like you do. You got a lot of anger stuffed up in you lady. in any event, I am unconcerend with whether I've "Impressed" you or not. You have certainly impressed me.

"Not that I need your approval"

Then why do you keep posting more rants here? You clearly need something, aside from intense therapy, or even involuntary committment.

"in response to your name calling, all I can say is I'd rather be a dragonlady than a moron."

Oh now don't sell yourself short. Reach for the stars, because I believe you can be both. However, if you look closely you'll see that I never called you a "Dragon Lady". You must have failed Reading For Comprehension. That was another poster who was quite impressed by your remarkable personality. I called you inane and a piece of work. If it will give you more accurate ammunition, then, on the basis of your postings on this page alone, I do feel very confident in calling you a raging harpy. Happy now?

"I learned long ago that I answer to God and myself; and for people like you, who spend your whole life spewing venom at every parent in the business..."

Then go post on your God's blog. I knew you'd be religious. Faith has been the traditional alternative to thinking for centuries.

I'm sorry but I have not spent my "whole life spewing venom at every parent in the business." For one thing, I have known some parents of young actors who were very nice people. Secondly, spewing venom is only a part-time hobby. I've actually spent my whole life mostly making people laugh. Clearly you do too, although I do it intentionally.

I might well have believed Ken was mistaken about you two days ago, but now I see he painted too rosy a portrait. He took the high road. The High Road gives me vertigo, but I know the Low Road very well. You make Rose Hovic look like Mother Theresa.

Please feel free to post another bout of insane raving. I'm having fun.

Cheers darling.

Anonymous said...

While I feel D. McEwan's tone was over-the-top (he didn't come off as a hell of a lot less vicious than he portrays Mom D), I think Mom D's defensive smackdowns at everyone who does not share her so-called 'expertise' were pretty telling.

Perhaps it did not occur to Mom D that while being some specific TV kid's mom trumps everyone else's knowledge of being that specific TV kid's mom, Ken Levine has had decades of experience working in TV, period, which includes some no doubt harrowing time spent with show-biz kids and their moms. In other words, he's not just Joe Blogger expressing random thoughts over a cup of coffee on his laptop. I have no doubt that his memories are accurate and that his impressions are valid because of his years of experience with child actors (as well as childish actors). His recounting of the incident with Mom D's kid seems a bit of a stretch -- there's no evidence in his anecdote that the kid was pushed into saying hello -- but seeing as Levine has probably endured exactly this kind of stuff over the years, it wasn't so outlandish an assumption.

Mom D on the other hand cannot concede Levine's argument at all, even where it does not pertain to her child -- he's a "nobody", he's an idiot, she had to look him up to see what he'd done and doesn't care -- and thus I fail to see where I or anyone else should consider her experience or expertise beyond that of being this one kid's mom. After a certain point, that is no argument at all.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I really like pork chops.

A said...

W-O-W! *goggles at Mom D*

You would have come off much better responding with tact, class and patience instead of ranting the way you have. Unfortunately you have rather proved Ken's point about stage parents being overly emotional and pushy.

Anonymous said...

I think the most important thing anybody said in the entire discussion was this, by Momma DeGarmo: "I did it for the same reason I sat in the sun for hours and watched my son's games or watched him graduate from college, or watched him graduate with honors in the military." Look, her kid wanted to be on American Idol. You're a parent; you want to encourage your kids to follow dreams. So she did. Y'know, Nancy Kerrigan's father drove her every morning to a skating rink in Stoneham, Mass to practice, and nobody calls him a "skating dad". It's what you do. It's what I'm sure Ken did for his kids. It's what I do for my kids. And it's a lot different than being a stage parent. Could Momma DeGarmo have phrased it all better? Yeah, probably. On the other hand, Ken's post made her the example, so she was justifiably ticked. Ken was appropriately apologetic. Now if everyone could just lay off Momma DeGarmo a little, we'll all have learned a valuable lesson. Capisce?

Anonymous said...

What are the odds AI Diana was named after the princess?

Doug Walsh said...

Wait a minute, who is Diana DeGarmo?

Ken, don't change. You're reviews of each American Idol show are the only reason I even keep those two words in my vocabulary.

Anybody who thinks being related to that show is something to brag about has some serious issues (except Simon, cause he's just doing it for the money).

Andy M said...

I've worked on sitcoms with kids, and I have seen the stage parent that rabidly pushes their young child in front of the camera and doesn't attempt to raise them outside the stage.


Diana DeGarmo was sixteen when she went on American Idol. As far as I know, she wasn't being dragged to performances and auditions when she was a little kid (see the youtube of David Achuleta at the mall).
There is a world of difference between trying to make your teenager an accomplished person and forcing your eight-year-old to have a full-time job in which they learn that the world revolves around them.
I don't know where Mama DeGarmo falls on this continuum, but I've seen the sit-com parents and they're deliberately putting their kids into a bad situation. As parents, it's their job to know better.

Megalion said...

Half of the stand by me kids turned out all right... Wil Wheaton and Jerry O'Connell.

Brooke Shields

I know that she almost didn't make it but Drew Barrymore managed to survive the turmoil and come out of it right side up.

Nic said...

Mom D wanted to point out that she wasn't gay but when to an event. How magnanimous of her.

Anonymous said...

50 is the new dead: Michael J Fox was on Canadian television at age 15 - which isn't exactly a kid but isn't an adult either. So don't be so rude. You can easily check such things in about 2 minutes (it's called Google) before you take someone's head off.

That DeGarmo woman may or may not be a stage mother, but she is unquestionably and completely insane.

Rob said...

Do we truly know this is Diana DiGarmo's mama? If it does happen to be her, methinks she doth protest too much.

If it is her, this is the money quote:

The parents are not the ones killing these kids. It's the business, plain and simple, and because no one tells them, "No." It's hard enough to be a kid without having everything you do viewed under a microscope. It's hard enough to be a parent when everyone is telling them yes, while you're saying no, to what you know to be wrong. It's hard enough to support your kid in this business without being bashed. They don't bash the managers, musicians, or people sucking money out of them -- even though they're the ones doing it. They only bash the parent. If anything, they all have THEIR hidden agenda."

If you are a stage parent and you had no idea that this was the way things are, you're an idiot. If you knew that's the way they were and you're whining because people fault you for subjecting your kid to it because "that's what my kid wanted" then you're an idiot and disingenous and a bad parent.

We all want what is best for our kids and want to make them happy. But we also have the responsibility to be adults and to PROTECT them from some of the more vile aspects of life. While I loves me some Hollywood entertainment, I don't pretend for a second that its a place for a young maturing actor, actress, singer to try to grow up AND keep her head on straight.

As for not caring who Ken Levine is, he wrote for Cheers, MASH, Frasier, and the Simpsons for crissake. If I was trying to break into the industry, I'd be giving him a hot stone massage.

Rob said...

Bart and Lisa Simpson have both weather their childhoods well, although I understand Bart did dabble in $cientology.

Anonymous said...

empirecookie said "Michael J Fox was on Canadian television at age 15 - which isn't exactly a kid but isn't an adult either."

YES!! THANK YOU! I *knew* I'd read that Michael J. Fox had started his acting career as a teen in Canada; my bad for not citing some supporting data to refute the post that ridiculed mine (it's a BLOG for heaven's sake - I have enough trouble keeping up with my real life!) ... but I appreciate the fact that you had my back!!

Oh, and I'm enjoying the witty reparte between d.mcewan and "Mom D" -- and feeling a bit guilty for doing so because Douglas could out-think and outclass that woman blindfolded. With one hand tied behind his back. And a lobotomy.

And, Douglas, I'm truly sorry to hear that you've lost so many people you cared about to the horror that is AIDS. Please accepts my condolences.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 45 Is...

The 80s and early 90s were rough, '87 and '88 being the worst, when my two closest friends died, both in their 30s, 10 months apart. As I now live through the 20 year anniversary of those dark days, they've all been on my mind a lot. Why are they gone and I'm still plugging along, annoying the crap out of strangers on the Internet? Justice wasn't a factor; just blind luck. Survivor's Guilt is no fun, but it beats the hell out of not having it.

John Fugiel, David Tarling, my brother Zack, Bill Hudnut, Kerri Johnson, Mom, Dad,I miss you all. And Dianne Nobriga, who missed out on her 19th birthday by just three days, I still look at your photo everyday. Sorry you couldn't stay longer, but I'm sure glad you passed through my life, and I keep you as alive as I can in my heart. (These people did not all die of AIDS, but they are all gone.)

Anonymous said...

Shatna, great post.

To mom D, I'm willing to accept you MAY not be a stage mom, but why do you seem to oppose shining a light on what is clearly a despicable problem, rather than just taking offense at being personally slandered. Was your reasoning "Who cares about the abused kids?! I'm tired of being slandered!" That's how it came off. You defend Archuletta's dad knowing full well he's has been observed egregiously acting like a stage dad, while other idol parents have tellingly been left alone. How many parents has Simon Cowell been exposed to while working on AI? ...and yet Mr. Archuletta is the one who draws his ire. Apparently it fits your needs to call it all just a huge coincidence. However, it may just reveal that you don't care as much about how David's father treats him as much as you care about your satisfaction in being indignant.

Also, trumping up your children's merits (even though the criticism was of you, not your kids) makes you seem obsessive about your kids successes...REALLY not the route to go if you're tying to prove you aren't a stage mom (if you write back saying it wasn't "trumping" and they really are that perfect, it will be classic irony).

Though the example of understanding how your daughter needed to do her term paper rather than practice was a decent defense. It's possible a stage mother would be so crazed that NO failure is acceptable, so the paper must be done on time! ...but more likely is the stage mother who has her eyes so fixed on the prize that she cares nothing about what's actually good for her daughter, such as an education.

Lastly, Ken himself might agree he is surely no saint and that he doesn't worry as much as he should about who he hurts with his blogs because he's instead so focused on feeding his readers new material. He might have volunteered to be more concientious in the future. We'll never know because you instead chose the crazed, angry tirade route. I'm still a little confused why your daughter didn't initially greet Ken effusively if it was all her idea and you had nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Everyone except Dutch need to lay the fuck off of Diana and her mom. They did nothing wrong to you. Even though I never met them I know for a fact they're really nice people. You guys really need to apologize to Diana and her mom.

Anonymous said...

“And as she was doing this all I kept thinking was, “I bet her mother said ‘Diana, didn’t you hear what they just said? He’s a Hollywood PRODUCER. Get your ass out there and introduce yourself to that fucking idiot NOW!'””

When I read this one paragraph in your article and if I may quote your own exact words “I kept thinking”. Is that 100% proof that Brenda told her daughter to get “your ass out there and introduce yourself”? How can you write about something that you are not 100% sure of?? It was your thought. It was what you were thinking, not proof.

As I read Ms. DeGarmo’s response I actually admire Ms. DeGarmo for doing things for her children David and Diana. As a parent myself, I also made sure I attended my child’s music, drama, cheerleading, dances, College graduation, etc. To this day I still guide my child when she asked for help or guidance. I, like Ms. DeGarmo, also believe it is right to install the values of “it’s the right thing to do”. I truly wish more parents would install the qualities that my own child and Diana and David have.

How many times have we as older people walked to a door and the young kids just cut right in front of us? How many times have you seen young adults not hold open a door for elderly people going into a store? Those were the days. I think we have lost a lot of “values” over the generations and “it’s the right thing to do” sounds like one of them to me.

I also was there to help guide my child to explore all the aspects that were being offered to her at the time in her life. Believe me; I would have been much happier to be able to finish my own College degree at the time instead of guiding my child with all her school activities. Once you have made a commitment to have children it is a commitment for life. There are some awful people in this world who do take advantage of our children (everyone wants a piece-whether it is showbiz, jobs, credit cards companies) and as a parent it is our responsibility to make sure that they are safe.

I guess I am astonished how an article could be written about someone or something that you are not 100% sure about? Was it done to hurt Diana and her mom? Was it done to bring a response back from the DeGarmo’s to sooth an ego? or was it written because “it was the wrong thing to do”?
I applaud Ms. DeGarmo for doing the right thing for her children.

Anonymous said...

Ms. DeGarmo may have benefitted from allowing her anger to subside before posting a response to both Ken and others on this blog but her basic point seemed to be that she supported her teenage daughter in showbiz just like she supported her son in his non-showbiz endeavors. That was a valid point and one I hope Ken keeps in mind should he ever decide to talk about stage parents again.

I see no evidence that Brenda DeGarmo is or ever has been a stage parent pushing her child against her will into an entertainment career for her own gain.

Unlike Dina Lohan it appears she worked in regular jobs while raising her children in Georgia. Being a "momager" does not make one a stage parent. After Idol she and Diana remained in Snellville, GA. A real stage parent would have moved her child to L.A. and had her making the rounds of clubs and auditions. Diana finished out her teen years with normalcy before going to NYC on her own in 2006 to star in a Broadway show.

Did Ms. DeGarmo get too defensive in this blog? Yep but I'll bet this wasn't the first time she's been portrayed as a pushy stage parent by somebody who doesn't know her.

In the future I hope if she chooses to address it at all she simply says "My daughter is a talented performer but more importantly a well adjusted young adult. I supported her interest in showbiz and kept an eye on her career when she was a minor. Right now I'm just a proud mother of a great kid." Really, Ms. D that's all that matters in the end. :)

Proud Stage Mom said...

This reply post is approx 5 years later than the original, but I wanted to add my thoughts on the subject.

I stumbled onto this post because I am in the process of helping my 11 yr old get into acting. I've heard alot of "stage mom" stories and truly don't want to mess it up for my son.

As a parent my life is more a chauffeur than anything else. My husband and I have backgrounds in sports and our wish is that our child follow in our footsteps. He has his own dreams. We have put him in basketball, baseball and soccer. He is not interested. He would rather entertain the crowd joking around than play ball. At the early age of 3, our son started talking about being in the movies. As with every one of his interests, we encourage anything he wants to do including his phase of wanting to be a garbage man.

So far we have experienced much criticism regarding the pursuit of our sons interest in acting. Parents who spend mucho bucks on sports for their children with NFL and MLB stars in their dreams for their kids look down their noses at the acting classes our son has taken. We have had parents judge us for encouraging our son when they are spending a fortune on private schools and after school activities to push for their kids to be in the best colleges. I've heard 7 yr olds tell me their plans of becoming a surgeon or lawyer.

The bottom line is that people are people. No matter what activity their children participate in, the parents will "behave" the same. Child actors who grew up with "problems" more than likely would have had the same problems regardless. It is all about parenting. If a parent neglects discipline, love and support for a child that child is going to be messed up regardless of his/her childhood activities.

Our agreement with our son, is that he go to college. That's the deal. He can pursue acting, but no matter where the road takes him he WILL GO TO COLLEGE. He is a very artistic boy, but also very academic. As of now, his plans are to be an actor, then a teacher, an architect, an inventor and then when he is old enough at the age of 35 he will be president. As his mom I am the LAST person who will discourage him from any of his dreams. Two thirds of his childhood have already passed, I plan on spending the remainder encouraging him so that he grows to be a well rounded young man.

Also, we have met many parents of "child actors" who feel the same as us. The child pushed to be an actor, the parents hesitate. Please. Please remember that louder more obnoxious people are more memorable. The type of parents that have developed the "stage mom" stereotype are a small percentage. So far we have gone to many auditions and several years of acting classes. I have not yet met a parent that fits the stage mom stereotype. However, I have worked at an elementary school for the last 10 years and have seen more parents that fit the stereotype but the kids are not in the industry.

Just another perspective.

By Ken Levine said...

I see nothing wrong with encouraging a child to follow his passion (unless it's blogging). My issue is that I have seen too many overbearing parents pushing their kids into this when the kids themselves would rather be out playing with their friends. Once a child achieves some success it becomes a financial consideration too. Basically, I'm suggesting stage parents keep perspective. Do it for your child's needs, not your own.

Proud Stage Mom, you sound like you have the perfect attitude.

And see, I read all comments. :)

Good luck.