Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I found this advice on another blog, and wanted to pass it along. Many people have asked how they can help. Please read the advice from some industry insiders.
LA TV industry insider said...
I've worked in the tv industry (NOT at TLC/Discovery) for 20 years and am embarrassed by the J&K show. We are not all like this. Let me offer some info and advice.
Smart comment made earlier by someone that the window to affect the show's status is right now. But you must have impact in front of the people who are making advertising, merchandising, investment decisions. That means posting your comments in places they read. Not People, TMZ or Access Hollywood.
--You need to post in places that reach the entertainment business industry such as that Flackback column about the Discovery ceo at TheWrap; the New York Times Media Decoder column; Advertising Age; Broadcasting & Cable magazine.
--Contact your cable or satellite company's main office - remember that they pay Discovery a fee to carry their channels, which comes from your monthly bill.
--Write the discovery board. Go to corporate.discovery.com and write to the business partners mentioned in their press releases.
**And remember that Discovery also owns/programs Discovery Channel, Military Channel, Animal Planet, Oprah's coming network, etc. Mention them. Expand your focus.
The show is on hiatus in terms of airing new episodes ONLY. That doesn't mean they are on hiatus in regard to filming. I believe they are probably still in production now, filming everything imaginable as they try to figure out how to continue the show without alienating viewers. The 6 weeks between today and the return of new episodes is very little time to try and sort out what this new animal will be.
And finally, pay attention to the frequent discrepancies in their stated timelines about problems and plans. Note that all they really say during the show is that they've decided to separate. And realize that due to routine TV post-production, scheduling and network review steps, this episode has to have been fully completed at least a week earlier than its airdate. And K's filing of divorce papers was done AFTER the episode was completed. She seems to have only given the producers enough information and advance warning for them to add the small written update at the end. Did K do it, and time it, to win the publicity war? Probably. But the "big announcement" that TLC planned on seems to have been just the separation. And to bring this all full-circle, K's filing successfully threw the entire series into a level of chaos and uncertainty that Discovery could never have imagined. What it does is open the door wider for people to have more influence on its future.
Advice From Someone In Marketing said...
I have been a long-time reader of this site but this is my first time posting. I work in marketing (unrelated to TLC/Discovery) and I wanted to follow up on "LA TV Insider's" advice.
This person's advice is dead on. The trade publications (AdAge, PRWeek, Media Decoder et al) are where you want to go if you want to get the ear of those who make decisions. NOT, TMZ, Just Jared, People, Us etc...
You also want them to know something about you when you post so they can quantify the market they are losing. You don't have to tell them too much, but just a little something. Without this information they are likely to write you off as a "crazy," or a "nut."
Your comment/reply should tell them 1.) What type of consumer you are 2.) You are unhappy with the situation 3.) You have taken actions because of your dissatisfaction.
"I am a 32 year old divorced mother of 2 with a household income of $45k/yr. I am outraged by the continued exploitation of these 8 children and can no longer tolerate it. I was once a loyal [viewer/shopper] of [show/channel/store/product] but due to the [show/channel/store/product] role in this situation I no longer [view/buy.]"
I hope this helps.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Mr. Petersen is also experiencing the same frustrations.
What can explain the failure of folks to make use of the communications tools as close as their computer or telephone? Is it just me, or do others wonder why the higher-ups at TLC, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, or the so-called professionals surrounding Nadya Suleman can't bring themselves to pick up the telephone and call A Minor Consideration?
Is there some reason the team around Jon and Kate just can't see their way clear to involving the premiere experts in the totality of the risks unique to children in entertainment?
Is it guilt or fear? Those are poor excuses when the welfare of dozens of children is at stake.
It is absolutely clear that mistakes have been made by parents and production companies alike, and that whatever advice and counsel may have been sought has been sickeningly misguided.
"What we have here," said Strother Martin in "Cool Hand Luke," "is a failure to communicate."
It is the height of corporate irresponsibility to employ children in profit-making endeavors and pretend that there are no consequences…now or in the future.
Generations of parents who exposed their flesh-and-blood to celebrity have learned to their sorrow that they didn't know best.
State labor officials need to recognize how dangerous their lack of knowledge of the production process can be when children are employed, especially in reality shows, which are all show and no reality.
The legal advisors to those named above might want to take a look at the principle of Disaffirmance, for I can promise you that when the kids you are employing get around to calling us on their 18th birthday every dollar you think you saved by not treating them fairly will be multiplied a hundred-fold.
Count on it
A Minor Consideration does not engage in "I told you so" if that is your concern. We deal in the present and the future as only we know it.
There is no excuse for child abuse.
And finally, if there is anyone in the White House who wants to know how the $68 million dollars committed to global child labor the President just announced might be better spent right here at home, you're welcome to call, too.
Friday, June 5, 2009
There is a predictable quality to the impact of Fame on children, and we ignore it at our peril. This morning I sat in the very same CBS interview chair I occupied 90 days ago to speak about the ill-defined workplace that surrounds the "+ 8" from "Jon & Kate," the same chair where three months ago I warned about the potential for disaster in the lives of the two children from "Slum Dog Millionaire," a warning, I might add, that played out far sooner than I anticipated. Please, when it comes to the consequences of notoriety on children in the spotlight, who has proven to be right more often than wrong?
This is not a recreational debate. The future of Jon and Kate's children is at issue, and while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, not everyone is entitled to alter the facts of this matter.
The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
Employer--Any person who for his own account or benefit or that of his patrons, directly or indirectly, or through an employee, agent, independent contractor, or any other person employs or permits any minor to work in theatrical productions, musical recitals or concerts, entertainment acts, modeling, radio, television, motion picture making, or in other similar forms or media of entertainment.
Employment--A minor engaged in a performance shall be deemed employed, if any person, including the performer, his parent or teacher, receives remuneration from the performance or if any performer in the production is paid for performing.
Pennsylvania does, in fact, have laws and regulations governing the protection of Minors involved in the performing arts. Five years ago, when "Jon & Kate + 8" first arrived in our living rooms, it was a far cry from today's slickly-mounted presentation. Jon and Kate were different people then, and we all sympathized with the extraordinary pressures they were under with six preemies to care for, and a set of adorable twins to nurture as well. No one, including A Minor Consideration, was worried about child labor laws. The initial situation was almost certainly "news" by anyone's definition.
Things have changed. The old Gosselin house became a television studio. Blood-relatives were shunted to the sidelines. The 'freebies' started to come in bunches, from plastic surgery to family vacations. TLC began to brag about ratings and the lurking evil of public relations came out of the closet. Big money was suddenly on the table. Appearance fees and book deals materialized, as did a much larger house in which to film the Gosselins, plus private schools and a paid household staff to "manage" the brood.
"Jon & Kate + 8" became a commercial enterprise, spawning loads of imitators on the network, and luring marginally competent people into believing that bearing a boatload of infants was a ticket to fame and fortune. America, sadly, tragically, soaked this up without giving a thought to the impact on the lives of the children exposed to the ravenous maw of the media.
Could it be true that no one gave a thought to the status of the children because after all is said and done they are the property of their parents? Besides, just being on television ought to be good enough for a kid, even eight of 'em, right?
Just look what we've done by going along with this fiction that reality shows are somehow different than scripted television shows. Not only have we deluded ourselves that the presence of cameras have no impact on the participants, we've somehow suspended disbelief when it comes to the calculated deliberations of the production team that puts all the elements together, deliberations in the case of "J&K+8" that involve the admitted participation of Jon and Kate.
When the Writers Guild of America went out on strike last year one of their demands was that the writers of reality television be covered under the Basic Agreement. Keep that in mind.
If the sad but predictable saga of the two children sent back to the slums after starring in "Slum Dog Millionaire" has any meaning to you, if you followed the denials and tortured explanations of that film's producers and director, you will have a better understanding of the "spin" being issued by TLC and Jon and Kate Gosselin who now claim that they spared no effort to protect the children. TLC, ignoring the obvious marital problems, now says the filming of the children is limited to a couple of days per week and the cameras no longer film in the kids' bedrooms.
No mention is made of the images already broadcast and cemented for all time on the Internet. That ship, you see, has already sailed and sunk.
This is a monumental mess, my friends, and a window into the true state of childhood in America these days. Dozens of innocent children are currently featured on so-called reality television shows, and hundreds more are potential fodder in hostile jurisdictions all over the world.
It's time to put the reality genie back in the bottle. This plea for a return to sanity isn't about this author, or even the gaggle of former kid stars who have been trying to share the lessons of their lives with you for decades.
We look forward to the results of the formal investigations now going on in Pennsylvania and California. Subpoenas have been issued in California and witnesses are coming forward in both states. It's hard to put the wheels of justice in motion, but once they're moving they are impossible to stop.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
Eileen O'Neill, president and general manager of TLC, made a few statements that need to be addressed.
In a statement, TLC said it "fully complies with all applicable laws and regulations. Jon & Kate Plus 8 is no exception. For an extended period of time, we have been engaged in cooperative discussions and supplied all requested information to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor."
Notice the carefully worded sentence...TLC fully complies with all APPLICABLE laws and regulations. This is exactly the point that many people are trying to make! There are NO laws that apply! This is the "dirty little secret" in reality TV. I'm not just talking about Jon and Kate plus 8. This applies to ALL children WORKING in "reality" TV. The industry wants everyone to believe that the children aren't working. They want you to believe this is all innocent and the cameras are just following these families around and capturing spontaneous moments. The kids are having fun, just doing what they would normally do.
They don't want people to know that it takes many, many hours, sometimes days to film enough footage to make one 30 min episode. I read in another article that TLC said they are only filming 2 hrs/day...2 days/wk. That is absolutely NOT TRUE! Look back at the episodes and see for yourself. Look at the list of episodes and count how many they've aired over the last 2 yrs. They are in Season 5, but the series didn't debut until April 2007. That's almost 100 episodes in 2 years time. Seasons 2-5 have been running back to back. There has been no break!
The children in reality TV ARE working. Think about the number of people who are involved in order to make a TV show--writers, producers, directors, camera/sound crew. Look at the credits at the end of the show, it's all there! All of these people, including their parents, are working and getting a paycheck. BUT since the show is labeled "reality", the children aren't considered to be working. They aren't getting paid, and therefore aren't protected under child labor laws.