Friday, 28 May 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #521: Gary Coleman is Dead

Welcome to the show folks.

Gary Coleman is dead, and that news made me think of a piece I wrote about 2 years ago about child actors. Here's an excerpt. (Because I'm too lazy /tired to write anything new tonight)
Hollywood is notoriously rough on their young stars. You'd be hard pressed to look over the tabloid rack at the supermarket check-out or a "Where are they now" segment on TV and not see some story about how some former child-star is now broke, on drugs, overweight, unemployed, nuttier than a squirrel turd, doing porn, or all of the above.

But it's not the fate shared by all kids in show-business.

A good example is Jodie Foster, who won an Oscar and became a pretty respectable box office player as an adult. And a few others managed to survive puberty with their careers and sanity intact.

But they're stories are considered the exception instead of the rule, because the child stars that crash and burn get all the attention.

And that's the key word here: "Star."

Jodie Foster's early career was based on a reputation for quality over stardom. She wasn't necessarily a household word, but she was known as a reliable and professional player within Hollywood, and that meant that she worked steadily in a variety of roles from family fare to edgier work.

She didn't appear to have parents trying to saddle her with fame at any cost, especially her personal privacy. In fact, to this day people know very little about her private life, and most people don't care about her private life. It's her life, it's nobody's business, and since she doesn't cram it down people's throats and lets her work stand for her, her privacy is respected.

We don't hear about a messy divorce and fights over her money by her parents like what happened Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone.

Such tabloid coverage of family dysfunction, coupled with the almost inevitable pot arrest, badly damaged his transition to an adult career. He was lucky to have escaped with some of his Home Alone money unlooted and has been working hard to reinvent himself as an adult actor in theatre and indie films.

Plus, she dodged what I consider the ultimate bullet for a child star's career: The Catchphrase.

You know what I mean, a phrase, a bit of slang, or facial expression that becomes the first thing you think of when that actor's name appears.

I'm sure Gary Coleman would be a happy man if he never gets to hear: "Whatchoo talkin bout Willis?" ever again.

It's a double edged sword. Such a punchy image or phrase can make a child a household name overnight, but it can also make them unemployable because no one wants to cast an actor who comes with an old part casting a long shadow over everything.

No comments:

Post a Comment