Advertisers okay with Kid Nation, unions aren’t; producer admits kids repeated lines

Advertisers have seen an episode of Kid Nation, but are reportedly unconcerned about its content. CBS “has been screening a full episode of the program for ad buyers and clients,” and “[m]ore screenings are planned for next week,” TV Week reports.

In a statement, the network said the show was “well received” by advertisers, and said, “A cautious approach from some advertisers to a show generating this much attention is very common.” So, of course, is lots of salivation, because controversy tends to equal high ratings.

TV Week reports that Rino Scanzoni, an executive for “major media-buying company GroupM …. wasn’t aware of any clients raising concerns about the program.” And Horizon Media’s Aaron Cohen said, “Being sensitive is fair. Pulling out, you’d really need a reason. And the reasons they were talking about don’t really impact anybody. If a kid had been hurt, or maltreated, or had negative effects after the program was over, you would have heard about it earlier. I don’t think this is going to amount to anything.”

Tell that to the WGAw and child labor groups in Hollywood. Most recently, “a quarter of the parents involved have spoken confidentially to the BizParentz Foundation and A Minor Consideration about the fact that during the course of the show, producers gave their children lines to say or asked them to re-cast dialogue or repeat scenes,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

The show’s executive producer, Tom Forman, admits those occurred, and the paper reports that he “said Thursday that the parents observed routine ‘pickups’ for scenes in the show that were perhaps missed because of technical difficulties or cameras not positioned to capture the face of the child speaking. The children also gave final interviews on the last day and were asked to recall moments from earlier in the production and restate lines.”

In part because of that, “The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Screen Actors Guild and the Writer’s Guild of America West are also reviewing the contract between the participants and the production company because guild officials say ‘Kid Nation’ highlights a significant labor issue in Hollywood. The guilds have long contended that reality television show contestants should be covered by union contracts because they are performers,” the Times says.

Amid the hysteria, there are finally some voices of reason–or not. New York magazine says in a satirical piece that canceling the show “would just be a slap in the already-scorched face of 11-year-old Divad Miles, a contestant on the show who burned herself while operating a stove without adult supervision.”

CBS Screens ‘Kid Nation’ Episode for Ad Buyers [TV Week]
Children’s advocates join ‘Kid Nation’ fray [Los Angeles Times]
Please, CBS, Don’t Cancel ‘Kid Nation’ [New York magazine]

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.