Friday, November 5, 2010

Demi Lovato's Crisis Shows Risks of Teen Stardom



As the star of the Disney Channel series "Sonny With a Chance," teen actress Demi Lovato plays an effervescent small-town girl who wins a national talent contest to land a starring role on a popular variety show. As the title character, Sonny copes with a jealous costar, a dearth of fan mail and the hazards of celebrity dating, among other situations only to be encountered by a budding idol.

One facet the upbeat comedy for kids is unlikely to explore is the dark side of teen stardom. The issue nonetheless came to the fore this week with a crisis in Lovato's personal life that forced her to withdraw a concert tour with the Jonas Brothers to seek treatment for "emotional and physical issues." People close to the 18-year-old star, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter, say she struggled with eating disorders and self-mutilation before her breakthrough role on the Disney Channel series.

These hazards stand to become more commonplace as a growing number of kid-focused shows put kids front and center, according to people who work with young actors.

Unlike years past, when young hopefuls had limited opportunities on prime-time family sitcoms, the media giants in recent years have created an entire industry of television networks and programs devoted to the 20 million children ages 8 to 12 who influence $43 billion in annual spending. That has been accompanied by a rise in "live action" kids shows on channels such as Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and newcomer The Hub that led to demand for child and teenage actors.

"You're going to see more of this," said former child actor Paul Petersen, who heads A Minor Consideration, a nonprofit group that offers support for young performers. "And it's going to become more and more obvious."

Petersen isn't the only one concerned: Demi's father, Patrick Lovato, said that he has been worried about how his daughter would cope with the pressures of being a child star. But he said he never discussed his qualms with her mother, Dianna De La Garza.

"I kept those emotions to myself because Dianna was so excited, I didn't want to burst anyone's bubble," Patrick Lovato said in a telephone interview from New Mexico. "But always in the back of my mind, I was concerned. Because at that young age, it's really hard. She worked 300 out of 365 days touring, and then of course when you get back into town, you've got all the promotional stuff. I'm sure she sees the things she missed out on, schoolmates and things."
More at the link.

Actually, Demi's father is in the news himself, for getting death threats from Demi fans not pleased with his parenting. See, Radar Online, "
EXCLUSIVE: Fans Gave Me Death Threats, Says Demi Lovato's Dad."

RELATED: Sheesh. These are kids, but no mattter. TMZ is digging way down: "
Demi vs. Selena: Who'd You Rather?" No doubt asshole SEK will be all over it.


The Vegas Art Guy said...

Let's just hope that her and Miley etc. will be able to make the transition from teen to adult without crashing and burning. When I was younger I used to hate most of the child stars but now that I am older and wiser, even if I'm not a fan of theirs I certainly don't wish ill upon them.

AmPowerBlog said...

Actually, I am a fan of Demi Lovato. Disney Channel's on all the time at my place. She's funny as hell.

The Vegas Art Guy said...

I don't mind Demi at all and I love watching iCarly. I will say I am happy that Miley is going to leave the airways at some point soon. I wish her well. What we don't need are more Lindsay/Brittany meltdowns.