In today's Variety Youth Impact Report, a special section in which the trade publication spotlights the precocious performers who will one day either rise to Fanningesque domination of the industry or challenge Lindsay Lohan's Herbie: Fully Loaded record for most hangover-induced missed call times, experts from Hollywood's various child-exploitation vocations suggest that their cherubic moneymaking machines might more effectively generate commissions if kept tuned-up with some preventative maintenance. Call it "prehab":
"A 'prehab' (program) would be terrific for young artists," says acting coach John Kirby. "However, most of the time, because of their desire to fit in and a great desperation for popularity, it becomes difficult to hold onto so many of the original values they were taught." [...]
Nickelodeon has a policy of putting its actors through a program called "Nick 101" at the start of each season. Executive producers and Nick execs bring the casts together and discuss everything from what a "call time" means to how to prep in advance when they get scripts to how they need to conduct themselves in public when fans inevitably approach them.
"For a lot of our kids, getting on one of our shows is their first job," says Paula Kaplan, executive VP of talent for Nick. "They need to be told that they should never give out their phone number or email address. They need to be told in advance that they're now a public figure and people are going to come up to them."
That Nickelodeon's stable of child stars has remained relatively scandal-free is a testament to the efficacy of their program of instruction. As Disney watches its current talent and troubled alumni succumb to pregnancy hoaxes, racy photo scandals, and serial rehabilitations, the company may decide it needs to adopt Nick 101-inspired "Surviving Disney" coursework to keep it competitive in a complicated, tabloid-obsessed world; in addition to teaching the basics of show business life to its younger employees, it can go a step further by providing the crucial crisis management skills required of those transitioning to more adult Hollywood careers, offering advanced classes like "Just Press Delete: Erasing The Nudie Pics That Could Alienate The Tween Fanbase That's Growing Up With You" and "Yes, Those Were My Coke Pants: Learning To Take Responsibility For Your Actions."