Entertainment

‘Showbiz Kids’ examines Hollywood’s troubling history with child actors

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Headlines about former child actors getting caught up in controversy and trouble have become almost a cliché, but Winter (the less-famous half of "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure") zeroes in on that from a number of perspectives, interviewing both adults who worked in movies and TV as kids, while introducing a couple of youths seeking to make their way in the business now.It's soberly noted at the outset that the overwhelming majority of those who brave this career path will never wind up being cast. For those that did make it, the mixed feelings about the toll on their young lives rings through loud and clear."I gave up my childhood for this industry, and it wasn't my choice," says Wil Wheaton, who adds, "I don't know a seven year old who's like, 'What I want to do is go to work.'"Wheaton also talks about his "Stand by Me" co-star River Phoenix — who died of a drug overdose at age 23 — saying, "I was and remain so angry at the predatory people around him that didn't try to help him."Even the comments by those who have grown up and stayed in Hollywood can sound vaguely chilling, such as Evan Rachel Wood — a star of HBO's "Westworld" — who says of her upbringing, "I was bred to do this."The candid interviews also include Milla Jovovich, who addresses being sexualized at a young age; Todd Bridges, another cautionary tale, and the victim of abuse; Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce, who tragically died of a seizure last July; Mara Wilson ("Mrs. Doubtfire"); Jada Pinkett Smith, who appeared in "A Different World" before becoming the mother to child actors; and Henry Thomas, whose audition video for "E.T. the Extraterrestrial" is among the highlights.Those conversations are intercut with those a young aspirant and his mother, who insists she's not a "stage mom" as she drags the kid around to auditions and an acting coach.Winter also incorporates silent-film child star Diana Serra Cary and explains the Coogan Law, the California measure adopted to protect kids after Jackie Coogan (the kid in "The Champ") was fleeced out of his earnings by his family. (Those concerns, notably, have also migrated to Read More – Source

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