The rise of groomed-from-birth-to-be-a-star David Archuleta, the premiere of the Danny Bonaduce-hosted TV show where stage parents compete to be the least crazy ones, and the recent travails of such former child stars as the Spearses and [insert recent TMZ featuree here] have got me thinking a lot lately about the upside to being a child star, for both the parents and the children. Sure, the paydays can be decent in the short run, but the long-term effects can be deadly, from the dreaded, unshakable feeling of having peaked way, way early in life to the current state of celebrity culture, in which any D-lister of yore has the “opportunity” to humiliate themselves on TV and keep their names in the press. Well, yesterday’s New York Post story on the current travails of the Jackson family–one is currently bagging groceries at Vons; another is a boomerang child–only served to further my suspicions about the sanity anyone who wants to make their kids a star. Namely, they’re crazy.
Marlon Jackson, 51, an original Jackson Five member who stocks shelves at a Vons supermarket in San Diego, had to temporarily move into an extended-stay hotel.
Randy, 46, does odd jobs, including fixing cars in a Los Angeles garage owned by a family friend. He recently claimed Michael was going to give him $1.7 million – “a pipe dream,” said another brother last week.
Jackie, 56, the oldest and most debonair of the brothers, is struggling to manage his son Siggy’s aspiring rap career after an Internet clothing business startup and attempts to produce music failed.
Jermaine, 54, shuttles back and forth from his girlfriend’s home in Ventura County, Calif., to his parents’ mansion in Encino, where Jackie and Randy still bunk.
Tito, 55, is the only brother still making music, but it’s a meager living. The guitarist fronts a blues and jazz band that plays small venues and nets him $500 and $1,500 per occasional gig – a far cry from the days when the Jacksons could pull in 50,000 people at $30 a ticket.
Family patriarch Joseph Jackson, 79, spends most of his waking hours conjuring up schemes he hopes will replenish a bank account that once had more money than the FDIC cared to insure. Peddling musical girl groups in Las Vegas and a book about his family in Germany, Joseph, despite evidence to the contrary, is not convinced that time and the music industry have passed him by.
“We can get back out there and set the world on fire,” he told The Post last week. “If the Rolling Stones can still rake in the money, so, too, can my boys.”
Well, they probably wouldn’t be able to rake in much without Michael, who’s cited in the Post story as treating his brothers like absolute garbage–not paying them for their appearance at his 30th-anniversary concerts in 2001, keeping their albums in label limbo after he signed them to his label MJJ Records. Given that he’s been having his own problems lately maybe he’d give his family another chance to get back into his good graces–and his relatively high drawing power–as a sort of pre-50th-birthday peace offering. Anyone want to see if Jermaine Dupri can come in as family counselor?