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Showbiz Moms and Dads

Has anyone else gotten sucked into this vortex of Parenting Hell?

It’s a series on Bravo, following several families promoting their kids in show business, from Florida to New York to California.

I caught it by accident last week, thought it was a one-time special, only to find out it’s an actual, albeit short-run, series. I watch it, jaw slack with horror much of the time. Look, there are acting and modeling roles for children. Children cannot, on their own power, obtain head shots and auditions. They need parents to do this for them. True. But this. Oy.

The worst, as you might expect, is the Pageant Mom, from Florida. I don’t know what’s wrong with these people, I honestly don’t. What in God’s name possesses people to spend their days primping and prompting a 4-year old for pageants, training her to define herself by how others judge her at a cost of $2,000 for a pageant (entry fees and costumes, I guess?)?


Close, though, is the very weird Nutter Dad, who moved his family of seven from Vermont to a 2-bedroom apartment in Queens so they could all pursue acting careers, and they all seem to hate it.

One child of the several the series follows seems happy about the proceedings – a little 8-year old African-American girl whose single mom is an agent and who has a small, regular role in a show called She’s So Raven. She’s also, from what we’ve seen, the most talented, and has the most relaxed relationship with her parent.

What reigns, though, is delusion. Mad, frantic, delusion. Parents are constantly assuring the camera that the kids love what they’re doing, cut to kids crying or sniping or being amazingly obnoxious to same parent. Just as many assurances that no, the parent is definitely not trying to live out his or her own fantasies through the child.

It’s the risk and temptation we all face – to take that step over the line between guidance and shaping into sheer control and single-minded wish-fulfillment, which never, ever turns out well for anyone involved.

And it’s all twice as evil because I was supposed to reading Leon Bloy. But no…..

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posted April 21, 2004 at 7:15 am

“Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering in order that they may have existence.”
Leon Bloy

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posted April 21, 2004 at 7:39 am

You are a far better person then me. I saw the previews for this show and when I heard the mother using the word a$#-h0l3 in front of her daughter, I was done.

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posted April 21, 2004 at 7:44 am

Another relevant quote:
“I never understood the meaning of ‘Thy kingdom come’ until I looked up into the face of my child.” (Leon Bloy)

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posted April 21, 2004 at 9:58 am

I have the littlest bit of experience with this strange world, and yeah, far too many of the parents are nuts. I had my son do some modeling up until 5 or 6; before that, it didn’t interrupt school. I did it b/c my two nieces had all the connections and made enough for two complete college funds. The girls are normal and so is my s-in-law, so we tried it.
I haven’t seen the show, but I don’t understand how the kids can miss that much school. See, your agent calls you a day or two before and says, “Be at 123 23rd St, 4th floor, at 1:30. Wear red.” and you go. You cancel all appointments – dr., dentist, play dates, etc. – & take the child out of school, clubs, practices, etc. This gets to be a huge pain when it’s 2 or 3 times a week. Which is why I only did it when he was little. We’d hop on the train, walk around NYC, go out for ice cream and the auditions were very low key, usually. I thought it was pretty neat that he knew his way around Grand Central Station at 5. Sometimes the go-sees were cattle calls and I always refused those. Those are monstrous and there’s where you get an eyeful. “No, you can’t go potty now; we’ll lose our place in line!” Once, by mistake, we showed up at one of those, and I looked around at the packed room – they were packing into the lobby, waiting for a number just to get up the elevator! – and I said, loudly, “Don’t worry, sweetie; there’s NO WAY I’d make you go through this – this is awful!”. You’d think most of the parents would look a little shame-faced, but the more noticable look was one of “Good; one less competitor!”. So sad.
The worst one, for me, was one where it wasn’t specifically spelled out what the commercial was for. Something about a public service announcement. I found out it was to be the camera panning over innocent childrens faces and then a voice over, insinuating something along the lines of “anyone can be gay”. Uh, no, we didn’t stay for that one.
Overall, a fun little hobby if you live near where they do this sort of thing, but overall a huge pain in the neck. And that’s only if you’re a normal, priorities-in-the-right-place parent! Fugghedebout these other whack-job parents.

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Maclin Horton

posted April 21, 2004 at 10:25 am

When our youngest daughter was around 6, we had a fambly (wasn’t Pogo great?!) portrait taken. This daughter was (and is) quite photogenic, exceptionally so at that age, and the photographer tried to get us interested in pursuing modeling jobs for her. “That face is money in the bank,” he kept saying.
It was briefly tempting. But among other things it just seemed that encouraging that level of vanity and self-consciousness was a bad idea.

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posted April 21, 2004 at 10:30 am

I’ve gotten sucked into it. Last night’s episode said it all. One of the Nutter sons said he only goes to auditions because it’s easier to just go than to argue with his father about it.

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Paul Pfaffenberger

posted April 21, 2004 at 1:12 pm

A friend’s son got involved in local commercials here in Phoenix, then LA, and now is in 2 big pictures, including Cheaper by the Dozen w/ Steve Martin. So far so good – family and kids are doing great . Please keep them in your prayers so they remain firmly planted in the Gospel. Thanks

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Donald R. McClarey

posted April 22, 2004 at 7:38 am

One of the worst mistakes parents can make is not to give kids the time to be kids. They will have, God willing, the great majority of their lives to be adults. Do not cheat them of their childhood.

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posted May 4, 2004 at 11:00 pm

I too am disgusted by the parents on the show. Unfortunately, like a train wreck, I can’t stop watching. I think the worst mom is the Klingensmith (sp?) mother. Not only does she appear desperate for attention but she shamelessly orders people around in her pathetic little world as if she were a huge Hollywood diretor. What a nut. I have to say that she seems a bit psycho to me. Ick! What will happen to her boy psychologically if he does’nt “make it”? What else has he got going for him? I think his future self esteem is in great peril. And its all “mommy’s” fault.

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posted May 4, 2004 at 11:27 pm

I forgot to add that I believe Jordan is the most talented kid on the show and the cutest. Her mom seems very down to Earth. If Jordan decided to quit acting, I don’t think it would affect her relationship with her mom at all- she is clearly not looking to cash in on her kid. I cannot say that I feel that way about any of the other parents. Also, is it just me or is it possible that papa Nutter is in the grips of a delusional mania?

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posted May 9, 2004 at 2:31 pm

O.K., do any of these parents, AND KIDS, live in reality? The world of showbiz, modeling, etc… is hard enough on most grown adults! (Just look at how many break-ups,scandals, etc. go on in Hollywood!) I agree w/ most of the people on here that Jordan, though she’s young, and her mother, seem to be the most “well adjusted”. I do believe that if she told her mother that she didn’t want to do this anymore, it would not be a problem at all w/ mom. But, HELLO??? First, the Nutter family. Um, does anyone else catch the fact that dad obviously has no sense of 1)reality; 2)parenting ability; and 3)what it means to be responsible for his family as a man,father,husband,etc.? This guy picks his faily up out of their lives b/c HE wants to all of a sudden pursue acting, and on top of that wants his entire FAMILY to do it too, which none of them want to! Plus could his wife be ANYMORE of an emasculating, condecending bitch?!
Then there’s the mom of “Shane”. Right. (Hi, my name is earth. Where are you?) It’s like she can’t get that she’s old & fat, so stop living out your dreams thru your son! I can’t believe this woman! On one show she had a bunch of girls come out & “audition” for Shane & her for some show he was doing. At the end, he was told to “choose” who he wanted. He pointed out a few girls, and one little girl thought he pointed to her so she got really excited & got up to go stand by him & he was like “No not you”. The look on that poor little girls face when he said that to her was heartbreaking! She sat down & started crying! Then he was like “OK now everybody else!” All of a sudden, the look disappeared and she was happy again. But, how sick is that?! The child just got her first taste of what showbiz is & he’s a nobody! And how dare that weirdo of a mom support this behavior and attitude! What I also think is a complete debaucle is that her son’s “fan club” is headed up by a child no more than 7 yrs. old who’s mommy obviously wants to ride in on the coat tails of Shane. And how wierd is it that mom uses a selling point in her own job that if a family buys a timeshare from her, she’ll give them a headshot of Shane!!!? THIS KID IS A NOBODY! I’ve never even heard of him. On top of it all, Shane really isn’t that good. Let’s be honest! What happens to him psychologically when people stop thinking he’s cute, and the little bit things he’s doing stop alltogether? The emotional impact on this child is taking its wear on him all ready. At one point mom was explaining to the cameras that he’s upset, & overtired/overstressed b/c he’s doing 2 shows at once, taking care of a horse, and my favorite, and I quote, “Trying to do school,” which leads us to believe that Shane ISN’T doing school!
Let’s also not forget the 4 yr. old Emily. 500 dollars for one gown that she can’t even wear but to a pageant. Plus this baby is doing modeling school, glamour makeup, etc. at only age 4!!! Then @ one point the mom is crying in front of the cameras b/c she misses her husband, and the rest of her family. Well, she decided that, didn’t she?! She should be crying out of embarrassment!
Then there’s the mother who curses like a drunken sailor in front of her thirteen yr. old daughter, and puts her daughter in a movie w/ none other than Heidi Fleiss!!! Plus, she even admitted on camera that she’s living vicariously thru her daughter! Also, when she was told that her daughter would only be paid $50 for the part & put up in a motel she jumped at it like a hungry dog jumps at raw meat! (Plus, she complained about the condition of the motel the entire time, but then was like “That’s OK, at least it was paid for!” like she was tring to justify her actions not only to us, but to hersef.
All in all, I’m like most, appalled at what I see, but unable to turn it off! (Kinda like “The Simple Life” w/ Nicole Richie & Paris Hilton) I think the scariest thing is when most of these pathetic excuses for parents are asked about Jean Benet Ramsey and what happened to her and how her “child like stardom” poss. acted as a catalyst for her murder, all of the parents justify her death by saying that it’s not b/c of the pageants/modeling that she was murdered. And they all think that they don’t act like her mother did w/ Jean Benet, and that the pageant world was given a bad name b/c of her death. That makes my stomach turn.
And has anyone else stopped to think about what the other children in these peoples family’s feel? Emily’s mother took her to a toy store to bribe her to be good & focused all of her attention on Emily, meanwhile forgetting to even speak to her own son! When he finally did get to ask her a question, she told him to go off on his own (he’s only abut 7 yrs. old) & she’ll find him later after she’s found something for Emily. These other children are taking the backseat b/c they aren’t or won’t be a money-maker for these parents! The emotional & psychological impact on these children, all of them, will hit sometime soon, and I can only pray that these parents begin to actually act like parents. If not for the rest of the sane world, then for their children

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posted May 11, 2004 at 6:33 pm

A new episode begins in about an hour. Wish I was’nt gonna watch, but I know I am. I am a true sucker- I bet none of these families are real. How can they be? Most are too outlandishly horrific for reality. I am sharpening my claws…….

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posted May 11, 2004 at 6:42 pm

Its me again- just having read the full musings of Emmy, who is right on target. I would just like to add regarding the episode where unsuspecting young ladies “audition” for mother Klingensmith: who would ever take thier child to an audition that was being held in someone’s driveway and backyard? I feel that mother Klingensmith is playing “showbiz” as a child would play “house”.

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posted May 11, 2004 at 9:31 pm

Papa Nutter. What can one say? Personally, I am confused. It is clear that originally this person must have had some redeeming qualities. He and his wife created a big ,wonderful, beautiful family. Each child is an individual whom is clearly comfortable being his or her self. None of these children exhibit any sense of feeling threatened in any way. But, they DO NOT WANT TO ACT. How much more obvious can it get? Grace, in her natural demeanor has much more “potential” than Nutter dad! When his wife revealed that he began training as an Olympic gymnast while he was in his tewnties, I knew something was off. Absolutely illogical. Both parents are in the wrong here. Dad for the obvious reasons and Mom because she needs to STEP UP. She always talks about life being the way Duncan wants it and it seems she never considered that his way is not the only way. I suspect that Duncan is looking for a different lifestyle completely at this point. When I say different, I am being anything but blunt.
O.K. Frau Klingensmith,….. Everyone knows you’re in great need of help. The only thing that will save your son from you is if you actually get that help. That poor little boy.
Mama Barron, you are trying waaaay too hard to emulate Sharon Osbourne.
Mother Tye- let it go. Your kid does’nt care as much as you or your mother. You are ibhibiting her natural growth for a small chance tha t she will be a pageant queen. You look like a freakout there in the background and you say awful things. When I think of kids who I love ever being in that position, I want to die.
Cute little Jordan’s mom is still down to Earth but I absolutley abhor these churches where people lie down on the floor and roll around. Spirituality is a huge component in many lives but it’s important to really study this type of Christianity before falling into it. Study Astronomy. Study the religions before Christianity. Make up your own mind. Be YOU and still influence Jordan in a positive way. She’s incredible!!!!.

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posted May 13, 2004 at 10:00 am

Did anyone else find it hilarious that Shane ended up perfoming in a tent @ a county fair instead of in that big stadium like momma had planned???!!!! I absolutely laughed my a$$ off!

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posted May 18, 2004 at 5:53 pm

Uh-oh! just a couple more hours til its on again!

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posted May 23, 2004 at 1:25 pm

OK – watched the wrapup show. SO the klingensmith kid isn’t being pushed into performing, he’s just trying to replace the dead sister – he wants to do it – just doesn’t understand why – that’s ok – a lot of showbiz people are wounded (but then so is most of the general pop). The Nutter man always struck me as a little menacing, weird in some way. At first i thought he was a displaced homosexual who married this nice yet somewhat unattractive docile woman and had tons of children while trying to convince himself that he wasn’t gay. The Barrons, very weird. I think mom takes some kind of perscription medication, no doubt about it. And the girl is the parent in reality. On the last show, girl says she feels bad about the way she treated Mom just minutes after saying “… and this is my doormat mom who does whatever i say” I like the girl, she’s tough, but I foresee BIG problems for her, i see her falling down the drup hole and very soon. The Tye’s, ok that woman is actually crazy and extremely paranoid and self important, always alway thinking people are conspiring against her. If the kid weren’t doing this modeling crap, i feel certain she would be one of those Munschausen by proxy moms. I like Jordan and her mom best, too. Not perfect, but shining compared to the other wacko’s. I know it sounds odd, but i think the mom is a little bit jealous of the kid in this family due to her own unfulfilled ambition. But the kid has an artist’s spirit. She and mom were painting in that pottery shop and the kid did a good job on the plate, better than Mom’s. Mom looked jealous then too.

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posted May 27, 2004 at 7:52 pm

Well, at least it’s over for us. Too bad for the kids. And this was only a miniscule sampling of what’s out there representing “showbiz” moms and dads. I think the pageant population is probably the worst of’em. Generalizing is not good, I know. However, I have NEVER been given an example of a pageant mom who has ever seemed to have a healthy agenda.

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