The Fox Special "Unseen Footage"
"The California Department of Labor levied four citations and fines to RadarOnLine for the single night of March 17th 2009 when the first two octuplets came home with Nadya, their faces covered to protect the exclusive provisions of a contract entered into guaranteeing exclusivity to RadarOnLine. The first two babies were then subjected to video taping well after the two narrow hourly windows permitted under California Law. RadarOnLine, operating in a "pay for play" environment and not as a legitimate member of a Free Press, had not obtained the required "Permit to Employ Minors" and the Labor Department correctly ruled that the premature infants were, in fact, contracted employees in every sense of the word.
Eleven years ago my wife and I literally wrote and passed the law that governs the use of Premature Infants in the world of entertainment in California. My wife, Rana Platz-Petersen, is both a Registered Nurse and the Business Representative of Studio First Aid, Local 767, IATSE, the union which supplies all medical personnel, including Baby Nurses, in the eleven western States on signatory productions. Briefly, premature infants are not permitted to be employed until they are Full Term, at Full Birth Weight, plus fifteen days, and released for employment by a licensed pediatrician by a signed certification, and the infants are then eligible to apply for a Work Permit.
Furthermore, to protect these especially fragile new-borns, the Law requires one Registered Nurse and one state-credentialed welfare worker for every three babies up to the age of six weeks, and one studio teacher/welfare worker and one registered nurse for every ten infants from six weeks to six months old. These rules are readily available to anyone concerned about the welfare of infants exposed to the entertainment industry in California on the Department of Labor's website.
On January 1st 2000 the much misunderstood Coogan Law, which only exists in California, was amended through the efforts of dozens of former kid stars who belong to the foundation my wife and I created in 1990, A Minor Consideration with the full cooperation of the theatrical unions and the largest producer's association, the AMPTP. The new Coogan Law was expanded to cover all minors in Entertainment, changed the antiquated rules that permitted parents to literally own the income of their children, so that minors could actually own the fruits of their own labor, and a percentage of their separate income would be set-aside in a Coogan Account and available to these children on their 18th birthday.
It was with full awareness of the rules governing the California work place that I watched last night's telecast of the "Unseen Footage" on the Fox Network. I was appalled by the chaotic atmosphere captured by the ever-present RadarOnLine film crew. A commercial enterprise is underway in the Suleman household in direct violation of the California child labor laws involving all fourteen children. The images and sounds of last night's broadcast will never go away. Never. Worse, even more such images are forthcoming.
Even more chilling for me is the awareness that other children working in states outside California are being subjected to similar exposure that will, I promise you, have life-long consequences. Most of the children employed in so-called reality shows do not have California's protections, which last night we observed in the breech, and it is a national disgrace that children employed in entertainment are exempt from federal child labor laws and have been since 1938 with the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
I am ashamed by the Industry that raised me. I am ashamed of the national media that is now trafficking in the images of children who are incapable of providing Informed Consent and do not have the power to disobey.
My wife and I have played by the rules, even passing meaningful legislation at great personal and professional cost. Today is a day of reckoning. Surely someone on Capitol Hill or living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue watched last night's broadcast. I am pleading with you to fix this, for if you cannot protect the most visible children in the world from what we saw last night then everything else you have to say from Health Care to the National Debt is meaningless because your silence means that the promise of childhood in America is dead."
Founder and President,
A Minor Consideration