Posts Tagged ‘ kids ’

Yalda T. Uhls: So You Want To Be A Star?

February 11, 2012

“This is America, where everyone has the right to life, love and the pursuit of fame.” — Ryan Seacrest, American Idol, 2010 In the new millennium, people face messages highlighting the significance of fame everywhere they look. Not only in reality television shows such as “Keeping up with the Kardashians” and “American Idol”, but also in popular fictional TV shows, even those targeted to children. After watching some of these shows with my then 9-year-old daughter, I grumbled about the drastic change in “values.” Worried that I was becoming one of those predictable adults who lament that things were much better in the past, I decided to test my hypothesis. This study, co-authored with Dr. Patricia Greenfield at the UCLA campus of the Children’s Digital Media Center@LA, was published in Cyberpsychology last summer. We found that in 2007, fame was the number one value communicated to preteens on popular TV . In every other year, fame ranked towards the bottom of a list of 16 values, coming in at number 15 or 16. Interestingly enough, community feeling (to be part of a group) ranked number 11 in 2007, while in every other year it came in at number one or number two. In research just published in Developmental Psychology , we next examined whether tweens were picking up on these messages. We wondered if the synergy between the fame-oriented content of popular TV shows and the opportunity to post online videos and status updates for “friends” and strangers created the perfect storm for a desire for fame. In our discussions, we asked preteens what they wanted in their future. Their number one choice? Fame. “My friends and I are making a YouTube Channel… Our goal is to try and get a million subscribers.” The above quote came from an 11-year-old boy who wasn’t interested in showcasing a talent — his only interest seemed to be in getting a huge number of YouTube subscribers. Given that these digital media invite you to broadcast yourself, share your life, and then hope for attention that is counted by number of views, likes, or comments, can you blame him? These days, it’s easy to see the phenomenal success of teenagers who achieved fame, such as Justin Bieber, or infamy, such as Rebecca Black. Kids, already focused on popularity and status, crave the virtual audience that they see bring so much attention to others. And the inexperience to think that fame comes easily, without a connection to talent or hard work. “First, I’m gonna take it seriously, play, um, travel basketball, and, um, I’m going (to) college for one year, see if I’m really good, and, I wanna be on a really bad team, so, I can be like the star.” Anyone else see a flaw in this sixth grade boy’s logic? Of course, these kids will get older and realize fame is not that simple to achieve. But what will they have given up in the meantime? This same boy later told us he didn’t care about school. Psychological research has shown that a focus on extrinsic rewards, outside of oneself, can reduce achievement motivation. Fame may be the ultimate extrinsic reward. In the 21st century, TV content socializes children more than at any other point in its history. Even though children today have a myriad of media choices, they still watch television an average of 4 1/2 hours a day. If the messages kids see on TV are about young people achieving great success and renown, it’s only natural for kids to start wanting this for themselves. Moreover with the rapid growth of digital media, children can now showcase themselves to an audience beyond their immediate community, using the tools at their fingertips to enact fame. Nevertheless, the pursuit of fame is embedded in the fabric of our society, in America — every person, no matter where they come from, is supposed to have the opportunity to become successful and achieve to their fullest extent. This is one of the strengths of our society, as long as it is connected to hard work, talent and persistence. So, rather than throw up one’s hands and say “kids today,” parents can actively work towards helping children comprehend and navigate the messages embedded in television and social media. First, model for your children hard work, effort and persistence. Teach them through your actions that success only comes from those who try, try and try again. Second, watch shows with kids and narrate your values; you can even watch reality TV that demonstrate the incredibly difficult work and talent contestants must perform in order to impress the judges (e.g. Project Runway comes to mind). And third, engage your children in some kind of community service or group activities. Even though many of our kids spend more time with media than they do with us (the latest estimates are nearly 8 hours a day), always remember that parents are still the most important influence in their lives. PHOTOS: A history of the top-rated shows for tweens. Go here to see the original: Yalda T. Uhls: So You Want To Be A Star?

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Harvey Weinstein: How Marilyn Monroe Got Her Groove, and How Dad Became Cool

November 26, 2011

The council of foreign relations is the nickname we have given the weekly meeting between my three very hip, very cool daughters and their very unhip, uncool dad. Once a week, school or business is torpedoed and we meet in a restaurant (I have a fourth daughter, but at 14 months she would destroy any restaurant because she has more destructive moves than Jackie Chan and is way faster). About a year ago, my mother, their grandmother, the infamous Miriam Weinstein, decided to drop by. Miriam of course, is the one we named Miramax after. By the way, when Disney kept the name Miramax, I always thought my mom was going to take on Michael Eisner. To her threats, Bob and I always said “you can’t do that” and she said, “yes I can, I’m right and he’s wrong, and that name is synonymous with a certain kind of filmmaking. And your father. And besides, if they take me into custody, I’ll get off”. Bob and I replied, “how would you get off?” “Because I know Bert Fields and David Boies”, she replied. That in a nutshell is Miriam. Lest anyone wonder where Bob and I get it from. As the conversation progressed my daughters complained about too much homework they had and how tough their teachers were. Of course I’m on their side and I tell them that I think homework is way overrated. Then, as the evening ended, Miriam asked me, “why are you making a movie about Marilyn Monroe? Hasn’t everything been said on that subject already?” Whereupon, I tell my mom that a number of years ago I had read two books by Colin Clark. Those being The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me and My Week with Marilyn ; both books about his experience making the movie when she came to London in 1956 and also detailing his fairytale romance and magical week with her. This all happened because her husband, Arthur Miller had an argument with her and left her in the middle of their honeymoon. As I progressed the story, Miriam was stunned. “I thought there were three main people in her life, the agent, what was his name?”, she continued, “oh yeah Johnny Hyde, Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller. Who is this Colin Clark?” I told Mom and the kids that sometimes movies are snapshots of little incidents. Actual moments in time that give you insight into a character. My daughters said dad, you made a movie like that, bringing up The King’s Speech , to which I replied, yes, a footnote with giant implications. The story of the king of England who stuttered and overcame his speech impediment. Here, I told my gang, was another snapshot. A beautiful, but mature Marilyn Monroe at age 30, allowing herself to be innocent for once swept away by a younger man. My middle daughter then said, it reminded her of Roman Holiday . Now in my house, Roman Holiday holds a special place. My daughters have always had a phobia of black and white movies. Black and white to them meant old. In fact, black and white to them meant very old, the kind of movies their dad would watch. The only thing worse than black and white to them was subtitles. So one night, I said to them that if they could make it through this old movie, I’d take them all to the mall and buy them each a gift at their favorite store. The movie was Roman Holiday . They loved the movie so much they watched it again and gave me a pass at the mall. Of course, Roman Holiday is the story of a young princess, played by Audrey Hepburn, who sneaks out the palace window and has a beautiful night in Rome alongside a dashing American reporter played by Gregory Peck. As I told my daughters the story, I explained that My Week With Marilyn has similarities to Roman Holiday . I told the girls that I have a weakness for movies about the creative process. They reminded me that Shakespeare in Love was about writing Romeo and Juliet and Finding Neverland explored how Sir James Peter Barrie wrote Peter Pan . Those were the movies they remembered of mine about the creative process. I told them that this new one was about the making of a fun, very clumsy movie, but that the way Colin Clark described making the movie gave you great insight and poked fun at the whole movie process. Sometimes, like a needle to a balloon, I said. My girls had an idea of who Marilyn Monroe was, but they certainly did not know who Sir Laurence Olivier was. Nor did they have any idea about method acting or classic acting. But I told them the clash provided a lot of comedy in the piece and that the movie had huge laughs and hopefully, if I can convince everybody, maybe a couple of fun musical numbers, too. As I went around the room, looking for a thumbs up, I saw their faces reluctant to give it to me. So I pulled out the trump card. Michelle Williams. Now my girls are lucky enough to know Michelle Williams and they know her daughter too. She is as sweet to my daughters as she is to her own. When a hair colorist had made a mistake on one of the girls, Michelle did an operation worthy of Bond, James Bond, and got it all sorted and fixed. In my house, that made her a folk hero. And that proved to be the closer. So off we went to London with Simon Curtis directing and David Parfitt producing. We assembled an all-star cast with Kenneth Branagh as Olivier and Dame Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike. We got the effervescent Emma Watson, the charming Dominic Cooper, the dashing Dougray Scott and the vivacious Julia Ormond. To play Colin Clark, we enlisted the tony award winning Eddie Redmayne. In due time, every girl on the set fell in love with. He is an actor of great vulnerability and also panache, both vital requirements to play Colin Clark. Simon Curtis wanted to immerse the film in reality so we shot it at the locations that it took place in in real life. So Windsor Castle was Windsor Castle. The Aristocratic British School for Boys was Eaton. No one ever gets to film in these locations, yet magic strings were pulled and red tape disappeared. The rumor was that somehow the royal family pulled those strings. In 1956 Marilyn Monroe met the Queen at a royal premiere. You can watch some of this footage on YouTube. They had a wonderful rapport and it was reported in all the British newspapers that they got along famously. The irony of Marilyn meeting the Queen was that they were the same age as the Queen. Imagine, Marilyn in her 80s. Pinewood Studios was where the original film The Prince and the Showgirl was made and lo and behold Simon arranges for Michelle Williams to have Marilyn Monroe’s dressing room. In the film there is a magic moment when Marilyn Monroe comes down to greet the company of players who are making this film. When the door opened to Marilyn/Michelle’s dressing room and she came out in a beautiful gown, something very similar to what Marilyn wore, and greeted Kenneth, Toby, Derek, Judi, Dougray, Julia and Eddie, you could hear a pin drop. The applause that you hear in the movie for Marilyn’s entrance was just as real for Michelle’s entrance as Marilyn. Everyday Michelle performed alchemy to transform into Monroe. Her use of makeup was as splendid as it was detailed. She practiced the voice, the walk, the wiggle, the waddle, the signing and the dancing. For anybody who loves movies, this is a movie about making movies. We see Colin Clark start to work his way from a lowly third assistant director to finally becoming Laurence Oliver’s right hand man on set (later on in life, Clark became a key executive at Olivier’s production company and finally a great documentary filmmaker, producer, writer, director and author). He witnesses Marilyn’s fateful argument when Arthur Miller writes in his journal that it is impossible to live with Monroe after only 30 days of marriage. That the paparazzi had rendered him soulless. They fight, she ends up alone. Colin then tells Marilyn the truth about herself. Through the relationship of making the movie, they become friends and eventually become romantic. All the comedy that Simon intended to be in the film is there. Watching Kenneth Branagh and Michelle Williams dual of wits is bloody entertaining. Nothing is more satisfying to me than watching an audience reaction to a movie. We screened the final cut of Marilyn to Michelle in Detroit where she was shooting Sam Raimi’s Oz when a packed theater erupted into huge laughter, but the best sight was watching Michelle’s laughter too. The finished movie was rated R. A problem for an 8-year-old, a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old. But I decided to take them to the New York Film Festival with their grandmother where My Week With Marilyn was the centerpiece and the film had its official premiere. It had been one year since that dinner at Cipriani when I got the green light to get involved in the film. So there I was, presenting an R-rated movie to my daughters. Much less their grandmother who tends to get rather conservative over things like that. When the lights went down, the magic began and I could hear the laughter and cheers from my girls. Even though they didn’t really know who Marilyn Monroe or Laurence Olivier where, they too were laughing at those jokes. The older one whispered Roman Holiday and that from watching this movie she thought that Michelle Williams was a modern day Audrey Hepburn. Miriam, in her true parlance (even though she’d been told the story ten times), said she had no idea that Marilyn Monroe fell in love with a 23-year-old boy. Then grandma said to her daughters, “you should not be seeing an R-rated movie, you could get in trouble for that”. To this I responded, “don’t worry Mom, I know Bert Fields and David Boies too.” As we filed out of the theater, the girls started talking about Marilyn Monroe saying she was a strong independent woman. They said she was smart, funny and determined. They said she had a kind streak in her. That she was misunderstood and that they could feel her warmth. They said that in the 1950s, when women were just going along with the status quo, she stood out. That she was rebellious, but had a sense of humor about it and was thus very effective. And then finally, the corker. They said Marilyn Monroe was cool and that as a result, I was kind of cool for making the movie. The epilogue to the story, is that two weeks ago, Katy Perry saw the film and tweeted about how much she liked it. When I told my girls she wanted to meet me they said, “you’re not cool enough to meet Katy Perry,” and that they should go in my place. As a father of four daughters, I’ve learned that COOL is a gift that only comes occasionally, but for a short time, Marilyn Monroe made dad cool. Read the rest here: Harvey Weinstein: How Marilyn Monroe Got Her Groove, and How Dad Became Cool

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How to Craft a Turkey for the Thanksgiving Table

November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to stuff our bellies, watch football and spend time with family. It’s also a time to give thanks and be grateful. And what better way to help your kids remember why they are thankful than by taking the time to craft a Pine Cone Turkey together? This cute little guy can be assembled simply with gifts from nature and items you likely already have at home. Take your children on a walk to collect pine cones and seed pods—perhaps at Coldwater Canyon Park —then watch their creativity shine as they assemble their turkeys. We guarantee your kids’ faces will light up with pride when they see their creation on the Thanksgiving dinner table. Below you will find a list of essential items required to construct your Pine Cone Turkey, and tips and tricks that will help you along the way. The accompanying photos will walk you through the process step-by-step. Have fun! Essential Items: pine cones—for the turkey’s body seed pods—for the turkey’s head (we used seed pods from a Sycamore tree, but those from any tree would work) colored cardstock googley eyes markers (we like Zig Pens since they offer a fine and thick tip) pipe cleaners feathers (optional) white glue hot glue gun Tips & Tricks: If your children are young, be sure to cut out all feathers and beaks  before  sitting down to work on your turkeys. Little ones have short attention spans, so you want to make sure you can work as quickly as possible. Gather all of the essential items in advance in a shoe box, basket or large Tupperware container. This way you will have everything you need at your fingertips. Line your workspace with paper for easy clean-up and to avoid damaging furniture or floors. You can use craft glue entirely and in place of hot glue; however, drying time will take much longer and items will not stick as well to the pine cone and seed pod. When cutting out the beak, we found it is easiest to fold the cardstock in half  first , then cut out a shape equivalent to a half of a triangle. This way the crease is sharp and even. Scissors can cut pipe cleaners, but be aware the wire can damage the blades. We suggest using a cable or wire cutter if available. Feathers may slip if the turkey is moved often. A small dab of hot glue will keep them firmly in place but is not necessary. Please send Beverly Hills Patch photos of your family’s Pine Cone Turkeys to be posted on the site! Email the site editor at Be sure to follow Beverly Hills Patch on  Twitter  and “Like” us on  Facebook . Read more: How to Craft a Turkey for the Thanksgiving Table

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Man Stabbed After Raiders-Chargers Game

November 11, 2011

SAN DIEGO — A 25-year-old man was stabbed during a fight in the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot after the Oakland Raiders’ victory over the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night, police said. Two men started fighting after the game and it doesn’t appear the fight had anything to do with a sports rivalry, San Diego police Officer David Stafford said. The injury doesn’t appear to be life-threatening, Stafford said. The victim was treated at a hospital for a stab wound to the abdomen. Stafford said there is no suspect description at this time. He said the victim was uncooperative with police. The stabbing is the second violent incident after a Raiders’ game this season. On Aug. 20 following San Francisco’s exhibition victory over the Raiders, two men were shot in the Candlestick Park parking lot. A 24-year-old man, who reportedly was wearing a “F— the Niners” T-shirt, was hospitalized in serious condition after being shot several times in the stomach. A second victim, a 20-year-old man, was treated for less serious wounds in a separate shooting. Those attacks came nearly five months after San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow was severely beaten by two men in Los Angeles Dodgers gear outside Dodger Stadium after the archrivals’ season opener in Los Angeles. Two men charged in the beating, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood have pleaded not guilty. Stow, a Santa Cruz paramedic, sustained severe brain injuries and remains hospitalized in serious condition. Original post: Man Stabbed After Raiders-Chargers Game

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Agustin Duran: Education Window: An Option to Start Getting Involved in Our Kids’ Future

November 10, 2011

If you live in Los Angeles and your child goes to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the chances that he/she will not be able to participate in a high school ceremony are high. Forget about them going to college and obtaining a bachelor’s degree. For years, the second largest district with the most Latino students in the whole country has been fighting to increase their graduation rate that not too long ago reached 43%. Today, it is at 56% according to Monica Garcia, LAUSD president. This means, that for every two students who start elementary or kindergarten at the LAUSD, one would not be able to graduate from high school and probably putting an end to their education. Currently, the district has over 700,000 students from which almost 75% are Latinos and 92% of the kids that are part of the English as a second language program speak Spanish (most of them from Mexico). In other words, if you are an immigrant in Los Angeles and speak Spanish at home, your kids have a big risk of not finishing their academic goals. If we don’t do something about it, they may become part of that 50% that won’t graduate in the future. The worst part is that the problem does not end there because after many congratulations for the students who finally graduate, less than 50% will finish with a bachelor’s degree. This situation reduced the opportunity for our children to become a doctor, engineer, teacher or whatever career they want to pursue because out of 10 kids that start school today, only 2.5 may end with a bachelor degree. As a Latino parent this is not acceptable. But what should we do: blame the teacher, the district or ourselves? Probably a better question may be: Can we afford to keep blaming and pointing fingers while our children keep dropping out of school and in a worst case scenario ending pregnant, in jail or drugs? I’ve had the opportunity to cover and follow the LAUSD for years and until now, there is not one board member, teacher or administrator that hasn’t said that they will do the impossible to increase the graduation rates, but so far and after 10 years we still have the same ups and downs. Should we wait until the school district does things right? Recently, I was at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles where dignitaries inaugurated the Education Window, an office where parents will have the opportunity to get involved in their kids’ education and help them to accomplish their academic goals. In the window they have preschool, elementary, intermediate, high school and college information and according to the Mexican Consul David Figueroa, every day close to 800 people visit the facility, hoping they will be interested in participating in their kids’ education. Also, one person will be there providing information on how to get parents involved, the options parents may have to get their kids into programs that will help children to not get behind and how to encourage them to continue all the way; to finish their higher education. The day of the inauguration, five aggressive advocators for the education delivered their speech and almost every single one of them had a story of sacrifice and story where they remembered their parents encouraging them to go to school; stories where they had to live with extreme limitations and sometimes work at an early age. They didn’t speak about the good or the bad school system they went during their first years of school. They remember the sacrifices, the support and the work their parents did for them to finish college; those images and memories always fed their will to continue their education until they finished with a Bachelor degree on their hands. David Figueroa grew up in Sonora while his dad was working as a bracero in San Jose California. With the support of his mother, he obtained his master degree in business administration and years later he went back to San Jose, California as a Consul representing his country. Now, he is the consul in Los Angeles and he is the one that after a couple months leading the office realized the risk that LAUSD was taking so he launched the Education Window. “We know education is the way to empower our community and this is what we are going to do here, but we need your help”, the consul challenged the parents to use the Education Window not only for their kids’ benefit, but for the whole family and community. The stories continued the rest of the evening, all of them inspired and praising their parents for what they are today. If we do not want to see our children as another statistic we need to get involved in our children’s education. Otherwise, in 10 years we will continue to talk about the bad situation of the school district still is. It does not matter how poor we are, where we come from or what language we speak, if our kids see the sacrifice we are doing to put food on the table and a roof over their head and hear our words of encouragement for them to finish school all the time. With those memories, I believe our children will have enough to continue and not only to finish high school but to finish college. If you do not know how to do it or where to start, go to the Education Window at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles. I am sure they will give you enough support to make the difference in your child’s future. Agustin Duran is an editor at and has been a journalist for the last 15 years in LA. Visit link: Agustin Duran: Education Window: An Option to Start Getting Involved in Our Kids’ Future

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realLIFEstories – Kathy Custead – A Fresh Look Proves Timely

June 23, 2011
realLIFEstories – Kathy Custead – A Fresh Look Proves Timely

Mark and Kathy Custead enjoyed a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle, but their financial obligations were considerable. So with their agent’s help, they completed a life insurance needs analysis, which showed that both needed to substantially increase their coverage. They each made life insurance purchases, something neither had done since their first child was born 17 years earlier. That spring, Mark was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died five weeks later. Proceeds from his insurance helped to pay funeral expenses, medical bills and credit card debt, and have allowed Kathy to set aside money for the kids’ college costs.

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Raw Police Video