Disney Channel Exec: It's Not Our Responsibility to Parent Our Actors
Disney Channel President Gary Marsh Admits Kid Stars Have It Tough
Disney Channel's younger stars -- Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, for example -- have a tough time of things. Large expectations and a bigger spotlight, make the transition from kid star to grown-up performers frought with pitfalls.
Read: Demi Lovato: Racy NSFW Photos Leak Online
And while Disney Channel president Gary Marsh acknowledges that's true, he also says it's not the network's responsibility to help its stars make that transition gracefully.
"We're one leg of a four-legged stool. It's the network, the production company, the reps and the parents. We're really clear on where our role begins and ends," Marsh says in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
"We have things like a one-day seminar called Talent 101, where we bring in security experts, psychologists, showrunners and life coaches. It's usually after the pilot (of a show), but before the series launches. But at the end of the day, it's the parents who really have to be parents. We give them all of the tools they might need, but the network is not responsible for raising their children."
Marsh, who's been a Disney employee for 24 years, admits being a Disney Channel kid, with the pressure and demands it instantly foists onto a young person, can be daunting.
"It’s incredibly demanding to be a 15-year-old kid and live your life in the public eye," he says. "At the end of the day, they’re talented but they’re regular teenagers and we’re asking so much of them and it’s nearly impossible to carry the weight of your fans on your shoulders. Still, being identified with Disney in my mind is net positive."
Speaking specifically about Lovato, who went to rehab for drug and alcohol issues, as well as bulimia and a bipolar diagnosis, after starring in the Disney Channel series Sonny With a Chance, Marsh says she had problems before she joined the network, and he expects she'll be dealing with her issues in the future.
"Someone like Demi is an unbelievably talented young woman who had some challenges in her life from before we met her and will probably have those challenges far into the future," he told THR of Lovato, who had revealed that she dealt with bulimia and being bullied before becoming a Disney star. "It's not fair, if that's the right way to express it, to lay that at the feet of the network that discovered her."
Marsh pointed to another former Disney star -- Shia LaBeouf -- as a star he tried to mentor, but who ultimately went his own way.
"(Shia) called me with (great news) and said he thought he was going to go to CalArts so that he could continue to work in L.A.," says Marsh, who had encouraged the Even Stevens star to go to college and even wrote him a letter of recommendation.
"About three months later, I get another call: 'Gary, I've got to tell you, I'm not going to college. I got an offer for this Transformers thing. It's Michael Bay, and if it works, I could get set for life.' How do you tell an 18-year-old kid not to do that? Turns out, it was an OK choice for him."
Do you think TV networks like Disney Channel and Nickelodeon have any responsibility in helping to parent their child stars?
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