Welcome to www.comprofessor.com a.k.a. Lynch Coaching: Media and Communication Prof's News and Views from Art Lynch. This blog exists to stimulate critical thinking, provide information on communication and media, stimulate discussion and share ideas. For additional media and other news see also sagactoronline.com. Thank you and tell your friends. - Art Lynch
Getting Started in the Biz For minors working in the Los Angeles market
By Liz Briggs, Contributor to this blog site.
So you’ve got the cutest, most talented kid ever, eh? Well welcome to Hollywood. The Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) authorizes around 50,000 work permits for children in the entertainment industry every six months. That’s a lot of cute kids. But don’t let me discourage you! If you have the time and money to invest, having a kid working in Hollywood can be an exhilarating ride.
My son got his start in the background biz, working as an extra on Desperate Housewives. He was a teeny thing, only 2½ years old. We were living in the LA area at the time, which makes it much easier, but it is doable for folks living within a drive-able distance (San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco), especially if you have friends or family to stay with in town.
I recommend working background for kids just starting out, because it doesn’t require the same commitment as getting an agent. Once you are signed with an agent, you will be expected to be at his beck and call, dropping everything to drive into LA and audition at a moment’s notice. Background is different. There are rarely “fittings” (paid auditions), but for the most part, your child is booked directly off her picture, and you receive a call offering a day of work. Background is also different in that you can say “no.” If your kid has a spelling test, or a birthday party, or you just plain don’t feel like it, you can just pass up the opportunity, and it will go to someone else.
My son was and is registered with Kids Background Talent. They hold an effective monopoly on background work for kids in the LA market. As with any business, they are looking to make money, and I encourage you to do due diligence before signing up. That being said, my family has been very pleased with our results, and we do recommend them to our friends.
Whether you decide to go straight for an agent, or test out the waters in the background, two things that your child will need in order to work in the biz in California are a work permit and a Coogan (minor blocked trust) account. The work permit is fairly simple to obtain, and currently free, although pending legislation may create a $50 fee for each permit. The permit must be renewed every six months, and the renewals, as well as the original, may be obtained by mail. The forms are available on the DLSE website, and must be signed by the school for school-aged children, and by a doctor for babies between 15 days and one month of age. The minimum age for a child to work in the State of California is 15 days. The Coogan account is also easy to obtain by mail, and several, though certainly not all, banks in California offer them. Two good choices are the AFTRA-SAG Federal Credit Union, and First Entertainment Credit Union. Unlike many banks, these two credit unions specialize in entertainment industry clients and are therefore more familiar with the financial needs of young performers.
A final note about kids in the biz: Though fun and rewarding, being a kid in the biz is not all glamour and glitz. It takes hard work and a significant financial investment to make it work. A single day of background work pays around $130, less commissions, taxes, etc…certainly not enough to justify the gas and possible hotel costs on its own. It is only by looking at the big picture that we as parents can understand and justify the expense required to get our kids going in this crazy business.
Representative JOHN FLEMING: Again, class warfare has never created a job.
Senator LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, that's class warfare.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER: I don't think I would describe class warfare as leadership.
President BARACK OBAMA: This is not class warfare. It's math.
NEARY: That's President Obama and his Republican critics, House Speaker John Boehner, Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressmen John Fleming and Paul Ryan.
All of this got us wondering, when did this idea of using class warfare as an accusation and as a weapon itself first take hold in American politics? To help us answer that question, we're joined by Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.
Welcome to the program. Good to have you with us.
JULIAN ZELIZER: Thanks for having me.
NEARY: So where did this idea of class warfare begin?
ZELIZER: Well, we've seen the concept of class warfare circulated in American politics since the late 19th century and early 20th century. During that time, the influence of Karl Marx and socialism was very strong. You found emerging unions here in the United States who were thinking and talking about how the battles between capital and the wealthy and labor was going to be central to the kind of country that we had going into the 20th century.
But the term starts to be used less frequently during the Cold War through today. Many liberals feel defensive and they are worried that if they start to use the term class and they talk about class warfare they will be tagged in the Cold War as communists and, more recently, as far left wing extremists.
NEARY: Well, was there ever a time in the beginning of 20th century and in the 21st century where anyone politically was comfortable with the whole idea of using the word just class itself, dealing with the idea of class?
ZELIZER: Well, conservatives have been very comfortable using it throughout much of the 20th century as a way to attack Democrats. During the 1930s, for example, the American Liberty League said that the dragon teeth of class warfare are being sewn with a vengeance, talking about President Roosevelt.
And since then, you've often heard this charge that we now hear against President Obama that secretly any effort to enact a liberal program is really an effort to divide the classes.
NEARY: Well, did liberals start backing away from it in the 1950s because of the intense anticommunism at that time?
ZELIZER: That's exactly what happened. Many on the right would attack liberalism, even if it was, you know, mainstream liberalism that respected capitalism as being a form of socialism. Many liberals backed off. They didn't want to talk about economic classes. They talked about other issues and they talked about it in different ways.
NEARY: You know, this aversion that Americans have to the idea of class warfare, is that, in a sense, part of the reason why almost everybody seems to define themselves as middle class?
ZELIZER: Americans often and historically like to think of themselves as a classless society. There were even polls during the height of the Great Depression which famously showed that many Americans thought of themselves as being in the middle class, even those who were struggling with unemployment and who had nothing to subsist on.
There is a belief in this country that someone who doesn't have a lot of money, one day, has the opportunity to have a lot of money. And because of this, it's often been very hard for those on the left to use the notion of class conflict as a rallying cry as a way to organize social protest.
NEARY: Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. Thanks so much. It was good talking to you.