I read and enjoyed your story "How to Make Your Kid a Star" (PEOPLE, Nov. 12). As someone who works regularly with minors in the entertainment industry, I feel compelled to comment. First, it can't be said often enough that pursuing an acting career must be the youngster's choice, not the parents'. If it isn't, the resentment the child feels later on can devastate the family. Second, I see a trend toward using more 18-year-olds to play younger characters, because child-labor laws require shorter work days for underage actors. This limits the amount of work available to youngsters. Finally, you can't stress enough how difficult this kind of career is. It's very, very tough out there.
Mr. Shepherd is the director of talent for Aaron Spelling Productions.—ED.
Not only did your article not give me any usable information about how to help my child get into the business, but it was also a bit one-sided as well—suggesting that the children who are in show business are there just for the money. The impression left was that the parents of these greedy little monsters heave them up on the selling blocks to see how much money they can get out of them. I know many children who spend most evenings and all weekends taking lessons and performing wherever they can—at community theaters, county fairs, talent shows, pageants—because it is what they want and love to do.
Simi Valley, Calif.
I enjoyed your article on child actors, but I question its emphasis on the money to be made in acting. Even the agent Marcia Goldenberg says that only 10 percent of child actors are working. And that doesn't necessarily mean earning a living, just getting the occasional $317.40 for a commercial. Such emphasis perpetuates the myth that we who act all make fat livings. Better to learn from the actor Bill Irwin. As you noted in another article, he was still struggling at 34 until he won a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. Unless your child truly enjoys performing, it's not worth it. There are plenty of other ways to get money for college, and they offer far greater odds of success.
New York City
What happens to the kids who don't have parents to push them and don't happen to live in New York or Los Angeles? I'm a 14-year-old actor, and my big problems are that I don't have "stage parents" and I live in a suburb of Cleveland. Maybe the fortunate few should count their lucky stars instead of complaining about how people treat them differently. I'd take their place any day, childhood or no childhood.
Shaker Heights, Ohio
I was very touched by your interview with Bud Cort about his automobile accident. Having seen him in Harold and Maude 12 times, I am reminded of how much his character taught me about the courage it takes to be fully alive. He is now demonstrating that in his own life as he deals with his personal tragedy. I hope that his heart continues to open in a way that brings him as much joy as he has brought me and many others. I am glad he survived to continue teaching us about the mystery called life.
Joan and Jackie Collins
I thoroughly enjoyed your article on the fabled Collins sisters. Jackie certainly knows how to put together a fabulous novel, and Joan's feisty, fight-back attitude and her enormous joie de vivre make her one of the most intriguing and beautiful women in the world.
Picks & Pans
Oh my God! Did I really read something favorable about Darryl Hall and John Oates in PEOPLE magazine? Do I need an eye doctor? Or a paramedic?
Mt. Prospect, Ill.
I am writing in reference to your story titled "Trying To Pay for College? You Don't Have To Go Begging." Now a senior, I have experienced the financial-aid crunch. My parents were able to help at the start, but savings dwindled faster than expected. I got a job at a local hospital working nights and began paying my own way. I am already carrying bank loans, but when I asked my college for help, a financial officer told me, "You have bills. So go out and get another part-time job to pay those bills. Your income is below the poverty level, but it's still too high to qualify you for financial aid." Where does that leave me? I am looking for a second job. I'm glad this is my last year.
Thank you for a most touching story and photograph of Richard Brautigan. As he himself wrote, I feel that "spinning like a ghost on the bottom of a top, I'm haunted by all the space that I will live without you."
While I certainly appreciate all the interest your magazine has been giving to our production of Perfect!, I nevertheless feel that I must correct a misconception that appeared in the June 25 issue. Jann Wenner, who will be playing a fictional editor at Rolling Stone in Perfect!, was in fact cast following a screen test with John Travolta. There was, however, never any suggestion that the magazine might be any less cooperative whether Jann appeared in the film or not. The people at Rolling Stone have been most helpful, and there was never any possibility that their support was contingent upon Jann's involvement in the film. I can only emphasize my enthusiasm when stating that I am certain we have cast the person best suited for the role that Jann will be playing in Perfect!
New York City