Entertainment Tonight, the celebrity-focused daily show, announced on February 18 that Prince Michael Jackson, the eldest child of Michael Jackson, is now a “special guest correspondent” for the show. His debut appearance on ET had him interviewing James Franco and others involved in the upcoming Disney movie, Oz the Great and Powerful (the story of how a circus magician named Oscar Diggs became the Wizard of Oz).
While the young Master Jackson’s job is apparently on an as-needed basis, it got me wondering about how many children of celebrities do we see in commercials or starring in movies. For example, there’s no busier or more employed family in Hollywood these days than the Smith clan (Will, Jada, Jaden and Willow) and I realize that it’s possible that both of these kids have careers because they are genuinely talented. Jaden has starred in both television series and movies (The Pursuit of Happyness and The Karate Kid, to name two) and Willow has a music career (Whip My Hair, anyone?) and has also appeared in a few movies and television shows. But if they didn’t have powerful family members in the entertainment industry, would they have gotten this far (or, perhaps, anywhere at all)?
And according to The Huffington Post, not one, not two, but three of Angelina Jolie’s and Brad Pitt’s children (Zahara, Pax and Vivienne) have been cast to star alongside their mother in another upcoming Disney movie, Maleficent (the story of Sleeping Beauty told from the perspective of the villainess).
According to information obtained by TMZ, Vivienne – who is playing the young Princess Aurora/Sleeping Beauty in the movie – is making $3,000 per week. I’ll just wait while you digest that little bit of information and compare it to your latest paycheck. Would it surprise you to know that Angelina Jolie is not just the star of the movie but a producer as well, so probably had a fair amount of pull in getting her children cast? I didn’t think so.
There are clearly some celebrity offspring – Oscar-winning actors like Gwyneth Paltrow and George Clooney come to mind, as well as Drew Barrymore, who comes from generations of talented actors – who have earned their stripes and have cemented their status as talented artists. But there are others who are probably being cast or employed because of their celebrity connections. One of the more recent disturbing examples of this is the new marketing campaign for GUESS jeans, which has hired the late Anna Nicole Smith’s 6-year old daughter, Dannielynn, to be a model for their spring 2013 line. GUESS claims it is a tribute to Anna Nicole Smith but it has the distinct whiff of exploitation, if you ask me.
I realize that life is all about who you know but it strikes me that, for the most part, none of these younger celebrity children either needs the media attention or notoriety or fame or money being cast in a movie or television show provides them. In this 24/7 celebrity-crazed world we live in, maybe shielding your children from the spotlight just a little bit longer might be the way to go.