Sunday, November 30, 2008

Is There Another Solution?



Submitted for post by Saint.

If I could rate my feelings toward the show Jon & Kate +8 on a scale of one to ten, with any number below five being "take it off the air," and any number above five being "keep it on," I'd be at a four. When I consider all the issues surrounding the show, I conclude it's a mistake. One issue that concerns me is Coogan's Law, Ca's Child Actor's Bill that addresses working conditions and schooling, and codifies how much of a child's earnings must be reserved in a trust for them until they reach 18 years of age. I understand that Pennsylvania has no such law.

Although some people believe that Jon and Kate are making good decisions about their children's earnings, working hours, and school anyway, I haven't seen anyone argue against laws for child realty-TV "actors" in any state. I think as a matter of justice, the Gosselin children should have money from the earnings of the show set aside for them. However, as a mother, I don't know if I would want a "Coogan's Law" for them. They would have access to a LOT of money at 18 years of age. It might become a temptation to them to misuse, or make them a target of unscrupulous people looking to get that money from them. Is an 18-year-old wise enough handle it? If I were in Jon & Kate's place, I'd think that I would be able to invest and use it more wisely than my child.

What is the solution? We've heard about the "Hollywood" parents who essentially stole their children's earnings before the law, and know about others just as immature as their disaster pop star children. Jon and Kate strike me as competent enough to handle that money for their kids, though, without blowing all of it on spa treatments and golf fees. For example, that home and surrounding property, if it's theirs, was a good deal and a wise investment for a large family. I'm just not so sure that PA needs to pass a law that gives the Gosselin children a ton of money at age 18. Maybe there's another solution? What do you think?

32 comments:

Lizabeth said...

I remember way back on one of the first episodes (maybe before the first California trip where they just took the twins) Jon and Kate met with a lawyer/will writer. I can't recall the specifics, but I do remember them talking about assets (house, car, etc) and when the children should receive them if something happened to Jon and Kate. I believe the consensus was that the kids should get them when they graduate from college or when they turn 30, so that even if the child decides not to go to college they will still get what is rightfully theirs. It seemed like they thought everything through then, and I would assume the same thing now.

I agree that there need to be laws about kids work hours and schooling, but it does seem like this family has begun taking those steps. We see the sextuplets in preschool but do not see the other children around (which is a privacy issue). Cara and Mady now have more control over if and when they are shown. The potty and shower scenes have stopped as well. It appears to me like Jon and Kate in the past 6 months to year have taken steps towards protecting their children more (whether this is a natural part of the age the kids now are, or because they felt safety wise this was best).

I agree there is a need for laws to keep children safe-- but there is also a need for parents to take responsibility for their actions and protect their children as they see fit. The Gosselins seem to be taking those steps lately, so I am thankful they chose to be more cautious and hope that continues (whether any laws are passed or not).

BEE said...

I agree 100% Lizabeth.

I would have to say that on a scale of 1-10 I am an 8.

I believe that Jon and Kate are doing what they feel is in the best interest of their children. I would be very suprised if they didn't have some kind of account/stocks etc for the kids. The fact that they are always talking about paying for college makes me assume that they are planning for the children's future.

SamanthaNC said...

Definintley not at 18. Maybe 25? They have discussed money in a prior episode (though I think they were referring to an inheritance) that if something happened to them before the kids were grown, they would get a certain amount of money at age x with certain college stipulations. Does anyone remember that? That conversation would make me think they have a plan for the children regarding earnins as well. I don't see them blowing through that money, I trust that they have their childrens best interest at heart.

MonicaW42 said...

I understand them wanting to secure their children's future as any parent would.

On the scale of 1 to 10, I agree with you Saint on being a 4. I would like to see them taper off the shows down to just a yearly update show. Maybe that is their intentions. Either way, I don't see them abusing the money and leaving the kids out in the cold.

Carolyn said...

I really think Kate and Jon's decisions are for the kids' own good. If something did happen to Jon or Kate, I'm sure they would be in great care. But the truth is, it's not our business to be in their money, or their kids. It's Jon and Kate's decisions and I believe that they always do the right thing!

Barbara said...

I would say an 8. So many of the viewers who are so hard on the G's used the potty issues as one of their big reasons for wanting the show off the air. Well, then we see twins, twins and sextuplets with the Hayes and not only did they show potty use, but the child with diarrhea running into her shoes and the clean up was really nasty and beyond anything I ever saw on J&K and no-one screamed about that.

As for the money, that is such a personal family thing. Would you want anyone questioning you about how you decided that money would be divided up and when? Of course not.

Saint said...

As for the money, that is such a personal family thing. Would you want anyone questioning you about how you decided that money would be divided up and when? Of course not.

I agree Barbara. That's my problem with Coogan's Law. I think it's unwise for 18 year-olds to get a huge sum of money, even though it is their money (in part.) I like the idea that their access to the money would begin after they are out of college (or 25 years old). That would make for a better law.

Nina Bell said...

I have a friend who lives in California. Her son has done very well for himself acting in some very prominent commercials. He is only in 2nd grade. His mother has been able to quit her job, they have bought a new house and his older brother is away at college. She has shared with me that all of this has been paid for with the money the younger son has made from acting. They have of course put money away for his college but she told me there are ways to get around the Coogan Law. Obviously they have managed to do so. I guess Coogan's Law is not perfect.

I agree with Saint. I would not want my child to come into that kind of money at age 18. Possibly some type of law that sets it up in a trust fund where they are only allowed so much a year until the reach a certain age.

liz said...

First off, I am not a "hater". I was just reading the yard sale posts..yikes. But I do disagree with what the Gosselin's are doing. I just graduated with a degree in psych and am now pursuing a masters in elementary education. This post reminded me of a debate we had in an ethics class I took not too long ago. So my question is, as a long time watcher of J&K: Is is ethical for parents to keep and live off the money their children make? What makes it ok? Does this put too much pressure on the children to remain in the spotlight? We have seen this many times before with countless child actors suing their parents and becoming independent long before they turn 21. Can parents be trusted to secure the money their children make? Now some may argue that the parents are on the show and that makes it okay, but again, how much pressure is this putting on the kids? The family obviously wouldn't be in this situation without the kids, when is too much too much? Yes they have made some effort to protect the kids (no more bathroom scenes or much school footage), but who will take the blame when the show is off the air and the parents are without jobs?
Since it was not their choice to be child "actors" who is there to make sure their needs (financially) are being met if the parents are living off of them? Again I have been a fan from day one, but in the past year the constant shooting (as in, no breaks in between seasons) and increase of "fan" sites for the individual children (which, as a mom, kind of bothered me, with the crazies out there online) have made me turn the channel when they are on, since just maybe, they will be able to go back to a normal life.

DW said...

Sadly there are ways around the Coogans Law which are perfectly legal.

If a parent or legal guardian also acts as a manager,agent,or rep they can actually get a cut of the child's pay- the legal cut that any actor would pay to any manager,agent,rep and so forth.

Just as poor Gary Colman what happened to his money! :(

Linda said...

Great post Saint!

I don't think that a variant of Coogan's Law is the answer to protecting the G kids because there are so many child actors already whose families have gotten around those laws by being their managers.

Jessica Simpson
Britney Spears
Lindsey Lohan

Daisy said...

Liz, I see your point, but remember, Jon & Kate are on the show too. This is their job and they earn too. It's not all the children's money. As Lizabeth pointed out on the first post of this thread, Jon & Kate are concerned about making sure their children are taken care of. I doubt this has changed.

Daisy said...

DW, Poor spending on Gary Coleman's part??!?? Judging by how he's behaving now I'm not sure it's entirely his parents fault.

Theresa said...

I agree Linda. But, let's remember, the G children are not really "actors" on a weekly sitcom...they are children on a reality show, so the money they may be making could be far less than that of a kid in a weekly sitcom or drama. I really don't know, cause I've never been in a weekly tv show. :)

That being said, I beleive that they do make a nice sum of money and whatever money they are making is being taken care of by their lawyers. I also remember the episode where they set up the trusts for the kids. They get half after graduating from college and the rest at age 30. Or, all by age 30 if they don't go to college.

My opinion...I think it takes a mature child to handle any kind of publicity. And, it takes mature parents to make sure that their kids are provided for, looked after, and pull the plug when it becomes too much for any member of the family. Jon and Kate have said in a few episodes that they will pull the plug if any of the kids feels absolutely like they don't want to do any more episodes.

rain88 said...

I also remember the episode where they set up the trusts for the kids. They get half after graduating from college and the rest at age 30. Or, all by age 30 if they don't go to college.

I could be wrong but I thought at that time they were talking about their wills and how the money would be doled out.

I believe it will be more difficult for J&K to leave the show even if they see some signs that it might be harmful to the children. The more they depend on the income from the show the harder it would be to give it up. I hope the speaking engagements, book profits and commercial endorsements will be enough to allow them to leave the show and let their kids grow up somewhat outside of the limelight. I worry for those kids.

Mom said...

I don't believe Coogan's Law is the answer. Kids with alot of money at 18 years of age scares me just a bit.

A third party person on set could be a good thing - ensuring the kids are "being kids" for all the naysayers, etc.

Whenever I think about kids and wills, etc. I always think it will be the kids who will be taking care of their parents when they are old and gray. I honestly believe J&K will make smart decisions when it comes to making sure their childrens' futures are financially secure.

Just a thought - does anyone know of some similar scenarios from the past where the kids money was taken care of properly?

merryway said...

I am way down at a one. I think they should have already ended it. I have really enjoyed it, but I think the kids need more privacy. It's brought them this far and they've been lucky to get through it so well. The children are fortunate in that J&K seem to be looking out for the financial security of all. It would be great if all the children receive a salary. I think it's fine for some portion to be allotted to improve their lifestyle. They have immediate benefit in that sense. I don't have a problem with a percentage going to parents for overseeing or managing. It's my experience that it's a lot of work to have a child involved in this type of work. The rest of the $s should be locked up until they are 18. I know it's not ideal, but at 18 your legally responsible and it needs to go all the way. If they are somehow able to earn that much, it's theirs. That would be so hard as a mom.
If J&K supported the family with independent jobs and lost all of their money, I would just feel that it was sad. Families do have ups and downs in that way. Since all have earned this money, I do feel that the kids should have a portion to do with what they will as adults. As Lizabeth pointed out in the making of the will episode, Kate didn't want the kids to receive any benefits until age 30. I don't picture them handing over a small fortune when the children turn 18..
I have heard of people getting around Coogan's law. I don't know if they have more safeguards now, but for a while, I believe it only made the parent liable. Which meant the deed had been done and the child would be forced to sue his parents. I think there should be a social worker involved in some way to ensure their safety. Again, I think these children are lucky in this area.

Weed said...

J&K have become very accustom to the life-style to which their children have provided. Regardless that J&K are on the show and get paid for their part - if it were not for the "tups", this show would never have been aired. No one wants to see J&K alone or with just the twins. The tups are the focus - they are the bread winners in this family and IMO J&K are riding the backs of their children which I find distasteful. I can only hope that someone has been put in place to make sure these children are provided for after the show. What’s going to happen when the show is over – it won’t be that big of a deal for the kids. It might be hard to get used to no cameras in their face and I’m sure they’ll miss the crew they grew up with, but the real problem is going to be J&K. The lifestyle to which they have grown so accustom to will be gone, no more freebies, no more being treated as royalty, they’ll actually have to wait in line with the rest of us. Have they taken into account that their new home is going to require massive money for up-keep, taxes, lawn care, etc. What about the trainers, chef, personal assistants, spa days for Kate. Unless they have done some serious banking of the funds they’re receiving now, Lordy – they will be in for some real rough patches. That’s what has always bothered me about this show. The kids will adjust to life after the cameras, it’s the parents that will not be able to adjust. The children are really too young to understand “how” they’ve been living, but not J&K. It just boggles my mind.

FIONA said...

I am at a 1 with this topic.

I do not think it should be a series for television at all.

The money earned is less of a issue to me than the fact that the 8 kids have had no say into the filming of their life. All these moments of their growing up will live on forever, be talked about, blogged about, compared to.

Would you want to be a Gosselin kid 10-20 years down the road? I can't honestly think any of you would want that or wish that for yourselves or your loved ones.

The issues that I believe will follow these kids will be more than I would ever want to load on my own kids back that is for sure.

And it isn't just the kids privacy that has been sold, but Jon and Kate have plenty of missteps to deal with as well.

Coogan's law would help kids in reality shows by having a social worker on set, shorter hours worked, etc...and yes, it would protect their assests.

We can't assume that Jon and Kate are dividing up their pay into 10 individual accounts anymore than we can assume anything else about this family.

We are the voyeruors of this family. We talk about them weekly; assuming, disecting, judging...

The amount of internet traffic about the Gosselin's would be enough to stop the show IMO.

I think they have gone too far away far the general premise of the show.

Tyra said...

The parents are working, too, so I guess it can be seen as a family business, like the family farm (cited many times before), or the family restaurant, or... you name it. Many children do work for their families' businesses, and some kids are working at McDonald's, and running paper routes to contribute needed money to the family income. No trust funds forthcoming. Is it exploitation? Where do parental rights end, and the state takes over? It's a dangerous line, imo, and caution should be observed.

And I don't think the show is automatically 'exploitation' just because they're ON TV. I just find some of the horror over the revelations of potty-training and meltdowns to be a bit OTT. We're all on the same planet together; if we mixed honesty with compassion and just admitted that it's all out here, too: parents screw up, kids have meltdowns, nobody is the perfect mom they paint themselves to be on the internet.

Why is it such a horror to see it on the tv screen, anyway? I might see one of the Gosselins have a meltdown, then head to the store, and see some random kid do it in front of all the customers at the checkout line. It's not a horror, it's just screwed-up humanity, par for the course. We can all do better, in some way or other. If there weren't so many parents (I'm thinking mostly moms) agonizing on the internet about Collin's 'bathroom issues', and his 'impacted colon', maybe it could just be regular old constipation, and life could move forward for everybody.

Anya said...

Great topic.

As for any money the kids will be entitled to in the future, I agree with others that graduating college or reaching age 30 would be a good benchmark. I think applying Coogan's Law regulations to the world of reality t.v. would be a difficult proposition, but perhaps there is an opportunity to take the current law and adapt it to today's world and close some of the loopholes.

Even though I don't have any reason to distrust J&K and their decisions, I like Mom's idea of having a neutral third party - perhaps someone with a child development background - present for the filming as much as possible.

Weed said...The lifestyle to which they have grown so accustom to will be gone, no more freebies, no more being treated as royalty, they’ll actually have to wait in line with the rest of us. Have they taken into account that their new home is going to require massive money for up-keep, taxes, lawn care, etc. What about the trainers, chef, personal assistants, spa days for Kate. Unless they have done some serious banking of the funds they’re receiving now, Lordy – they will be in for some real rough patches.

I really hope for the children's sake that they are working with a competent financial advisor. I completely agree that they should not be operating with the idea that the level of income they are presently receiving will be there in 3 or 4 years.

I could be off-base, but I think the adjustment to no freebies, etc. will be made easier by the fact that they will be out of the spotlight and not having to deal with their every move (literally!) being discussed and criticized.

Heather said...

I have mixed feelings. If it were my family, I wouldn't want that kind of constant scrutiny of my life. I value my privacy too much. However, my husband says if we were in their shoes, he'd do the same thing as the G's, because otherwise, how could we afford to live?
I do think that PA should put some variation of a Coogan's law on the books, regardless of whether there are ways to get around it. There are a lot of children in Philadelphia who act or model. My son used to model when we lived there. I put the money in a college account for him, but who know what other parents do with the money? Whether or not Jon & Kate are trustworthy, there are still other parents out there who are not. I'd just craft the law to say that the kids had to be 21 before they could get the money, except if used to pay for education.
And I also believe there should be legislation covering reality shows, regardless of what state they're filmed in, because there will inevitably be children who will benefit from it.
However, I do believe Jon & Kate deserve a cut of the money. although the show would not have existed without the tups, J&K are still integral "characters" on the show. Look at all the other multiple family reality shows on TV. Why aren't any of them nearly as popular? Their kids are cute, too. But the parents are kinda boring in comparison. The dynamics of J&K's relationship might annoy some people, but it sparks interest, which makes people want to watch.
As for whether it's time to cancel the show . . .I'd say once the kids are in school full-time, there won't be much to film and it will probably peter out on it's own, if it doesn't before then.

jace said...

"Where do parental rights end, and the state takes over? It's a dangerous line, imo, and caution should be observed."


I agree. I think that could be a really slippery slope.

I think it is presumptuous to assume that the Gosselins are not providing for the children's future. Parents have a vested interest in their children's financial security. I think that Kate would be all over that.

I think that they realize that the show will not last forever and have financial experts giving them advice.

I also think that they won't mind giving up the freebees in exchange for privacy. Kate seems like a lot of the time, she would rather stay at home than deal with all the chaos of outings.

T-bag said...

I have a problem with saying that the Gosselins are living off of their children because that implies that Jon and Kate do nothing at all on the show. This isn't true. They are working just as much as the kids.

Yes, they use the money that their children make to provide for their family. But then you could say the same for a farmer's children. They work on the family farm to keep the family business running. Is this child labor? I had a friend who sometimes went with her mother to help her clean houses. Is that child providing for the mother? When I was living at home during high school and college breaks I was working. My mom and dad would call me sometimes and ask me to bring dinner home for the family. Was I providing for the family then?

I don't think for a second that Jon and Kate would be heartless enough to deny these children their hard-earned money. Right now they are buying them a better house, taking them on vacations, etc. I think they're doing pretty well.

liz said...

I think its a little far fetched to compare what the kids go through to a farmer or restaurant family. In those cases, if the kids don't help, the farm is still there, it should be able to function with just the work of the parents. Take away the kids and J&K are out of work. How much pressure is that for a 4 year old? I think too much...

spanglish said...

"Many children do work for their families' businesses, and some kids are working at McDonald's, and running paper routes to contribute needed money to the family income."

But very few families have used their babies to earn income for the family, and that's what the Gosselins have done with the little kids, who have been filmed since they were 14 months old. Children who are old enough for paper routes or fast food jobs are old enough to understand what they're work is providing for their family and they can have a voice in what they're doing.

"Regardless that J&K are on the show and get paid for their part - if it were not for the "tups", this show would never have been aired. No one wants to see J&K alone or with just the twins. The tups are the focus - they are the breadwinners in this family."

Exactly. While Jon and Kate have no doubt received considerable legal advice on handling their earnings (as indicated by the way the new home was acquired, not listed in their name), without laws requiring it, they're under no obligation to assure an equitable distribution of the earnings that rightfully belong to those kids.

"I think applying Coogan's Law regulations to the world of reality t.v. would be a difficult proposition, but perhaps there is an opportunity to take the current law and adapt it to today's world and close some of the loopholes."

This would be my preference as well. I also agree that having a neutral third party on set during filming would assure the best interests of the kids are being met.

"does anyone know of some similar scenarios from the past where the kids money was taken care of properly?"

Ron Howard (Opie on The Andy Griffith Show; a teenager on Happy Days; now an award winning film producer).

As far as rating my feelings toward the show, I'd say 1. The show is well past its shelf life, with too many contrived episodes. I'd like the occasional update show every couple of years or so, just to see how the kids are doing, but nothing more.

Guinevere said...

Regardless that J&K are on the show and get paid for their part - if it were not for the "tups", this show would never have been aired. No one wants to see J&K alone or with just the twins. The tups are the focus - they are the breadwinners in this family.

It just sticks in my craw when someone says "no one" would do this or that. I agree that obviously the basis for the show is raising twins and sextuplets. But I don't necessarily agree that "no one" watches for J&K. On the contrary, I think a lot of the haters are far more interested in Kate than in anything any of the sextuplets do.

The kids were the hook, but I don't think they are the only reason, or even necessarily the main reason, for the show's popularity.

Tyra said...

The dynamics of J&K's relationship might annoy some people, but it sparks interest, which makes people want to watch.

Exactly. If posters and bloggers had liked Kate, I believe the show would have stopped at season 1, and there would be barely a memory of it now.

In those cases, if the kids don't help, the farm is still there, it should be able to function with just the work of the parents. Take away the kids and J&K are out of work. How much pressure is that for a 4 year old? I think too much...

There's no such thing as taking away the kids. Kate had them, and she did go through a unique experience. Lots of people are allowed to tell their stories, making money with book deals, and recounting what they've gone through with their kids, without being accused of exploitation.

I don't think there's any basis for accepting the assumption that Jon and Kate see themselves as 'depending' on their four-year-olds for the family's security, and thereby put 'pressure' on the kids. On the contrary, I think Jon & Kate see themselves as working hard for their family; they're exploring opportunities beyond the show, like the book, and spokesperson gigs.

Jersey Belle said...

"Regardless that J&K are on the show and get paid for their part - if it were not for the "tups", this show would never have been aired. No one wants to see J&K alone or with just the twins. The tups are the focus - they are the breadwinners in this family."

If it weren't for the "tups" then Jon and Kate could've easily kept their jobs as IT and RN respectively. But unfortunately they have 8 kids to send to college and 6 of them at the same time. So if you did the math, assuming college is worth 30k a year (and it's definitely more than that now) and they all go to college at the average ages, when the "tups" are freshmen, Mady and Cara will be seniors and thus J&K will need to shell out an average of 200k in one year and in total paying for their education will cost close to a million dollars. If I were them, I'd be freaked out of my mind. And being IT and a nurse, there's just no way to earn that without working 24/7. Then include weddings...

If you were a parent, you'd want the best for your kids. You want to give them a wonderful future and unfortunately, you can't do that without money. And as parents there has to be a decision which will take prominence, money or time with your family. Fortunately for J&K, they can have both. If I was in their situation, I'd probably do the same. I mean, seriously, who would put their 8 kids in one room when they can give them something better?

And it seems that they really care for their children to have the best. It's not like they're using the money for their own personal gain--we don't see fancy cars or jewelry or clothing.

So I really don't see the hate towards J&K. Especially Kate. I'd switch her for my mother who has major anger issues and threatens to kill you with a knife. Hell, I'd love to be one of their kids. I'd be more loved.

dotsicle said...

I am wondering if the G parents will be like many other modern parents and expect their kids to earn at least part of their college tuition? Even if they end up with enough funds and scholarships, I think it would be fine if the parents insisted the kids provide something toward their education (other than what they are earning on the show). I suppose there would be critics saying that the kids "already earned their college money by being forced to work their childhoods away".

Weed said...

I’m sorry Jersey Belle – are you new to the J&K show? J&K have used this show for their “personal gain” as well as the children’s. Hopefully J&K have banked most of the money their children have earned so that the college funds are taken care of – if they have to pay for their own weddings, so what – J&K have said many times that they paid for their own wedding. Many couples do – parents shouldn’t be expected to foot the bill or foot the bill for college. There are a lot of kids out there working and going to school because their parents couldn’t afford to pay the whole bill and there is nothing wrong with that. J&K have definitely used this show for their own personal gain; the loads of freebies, trips, spa days, teeth whitening, hair plugs, tummy tuck, chefs, personal trainers, and a new home. Now granted the hair plugs, tummy tuck/lipo were offered to them and the trips/freebies are offered in return for free advertisement. If it weren’t for the fertility treatments Kate underwent, no show, no lavish lifestyle. When the show ends a lot of what is coming their way will stop so I hope, with all my heart that J&K have made sure that their children will be well provided for. I’m not a hater or lover of Kate. A lot of what she does really plucks my nerves but you can’t honestly sit there and say that they haven’t used this show for their own personal gain. But with all the freebies they get I’m sure they don’t have a lot of things they have to pay for out-of-pocket when you think about it. Again – I hope that the children will be provided for because they’ve sacrificed a lot for this show and they deserve at the very minimum to have their education paid for. But you know – if J&K spent every last penny, it won’t be the end of the world. Like I said up top – kids do it everyday; work and pay their own way. A college education isn’t mandatory and it isn’t mandatory that a parent pay - it sure is nice and a higher education can open many more doors. I’m sorry – I don’t want this to seem like I’m attacking you but something in your post just got to me. I am a mother and I do want the best for my children; they’re adults now but I still want what’s best and I try and help them in anyway that I can – a parent’s job is never done no matter how old the child but a good parent doesn’t have to have money to give their children a wonderful future. Money is great don’t get me wrong but if you’re there for your child, encouraging and supporting – money isn’t the be all end all. And you don’t have to chose money or time with your family, you can have both and I’m not saying quit your job but time is so much more important with your child, at least IMO. I guess that’s what I was trying to get across in this long rambling post.

aap said...

Dotsicle -

I suppose there would be critics saying that the kids "already earned their college money by being forced to work their childhoods away".

Since the big attraction to the show is the kids, I don't think it is unreasonable for the kids to profit from the earnings. As a matter of fact, I would think it would be wrong of Jon and Kate to use all of the earnings they receive from the show for their own personal gain. If invested correctly, they should have more than enough to pay for college.