To protect shows, Disney, Cartoon, Nick patrol kids' Web pages

Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:50am EDT
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Young actors in Hollywood have a new hurdle to overcome in their budding careers: Roving studio executives who patrol Twitter, Facebook Inc and other social media sites with the threat of legal action if the young thespians disclose too much.

Talent managers and casting agents say Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network often monitor posts by cast members on these sites for messages that might harm their shows' prospects with fickle youthful viewers.

The networks order them to take down posts that might reveal too much about characters, plot twists, casting or comments that might offend advertisers.

Social media dogs young actors seeking stage careers as well.

Carol Lynn Sher, an agent for kids seeking parts in Hollywood and on Broadway, said one of her clients lost a job after he posted that he was in the cast of a Broadway show before it was officially announced.

"They pulled the offer. It was devastating," she said. "I sent out a precautionary note to all my clients because of studios' and ad agencies' concerns about social media."

Efforts to rein in the online habits of kids are part of a larger Hollywood campaign to restrict adults, too. And it could become an issue in February contract talks for the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), covering over 150,000 actors, said a lawyer for ad agencies that work with the channels.

"We try to watch their tweets. If we see things that concern us, we raise it with them," acknowledged Sharon Lieblein, vice-president, talent and casting for Time Warner Inc's Cartoon Network. She says she frequently asks kids to delete posts from Facebook or Twitter.   Continued...

A part of the signage at the main gate of The Walt Disney Co. is pictured in Burbank, California, May 7, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser