September 5, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 5  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

The stigma of the former child star: a lifetime of ridicule?

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The glory of being a famous cute kid can fade faster than the pages of an old Tiger Beat magazine.

What often remains is nostalgia, taunting and the occasional pummelling in a celebrity boxing tournament.

Some are bitter. Some have made peace with their pasts and found new successes. Others still seem a little dazed from the long-extinguished limelight.

The Associated Press sat down to talk about the former-child-star phenomenon with Barry Williams (Greg on The Brady Bunch), Danny Bonaduce (Danny on The Partridge Family), Dustin Diamond (Screech from Saved by the Bell), Leif Garrett (teenage heartthrob singer of I Was Made for Dancin') and Corey Feldman (Mouth from The Goonies).

All five play themselves as poker buddies in the new David Spade comedy Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, offering advice to the fictional kiddie star.

The following is a transcript of the AP's discussion, edited for length and content (these guys can get raunchy):

AP: Do you feel like your childhoods were that weird? The whole point of Dickie Roberts is that he's too messed up to function.

Bonaduce: They weren't as weird as Dickie's, but they were weird. I was 10 and would get up to go to work and there would be 400 people in my front yard with signs - only because they couldn't find David Cassidy's house. (Laughter.) That's weird!

Williams: The abnormalities come in with the kind of attention we had. Touring, making records, showing up at the set every day. You have publicity machines, you have agents...

AP: How do the fans treat you now? Diamond: You can't really go out to regular places and not get recognized and not get hassled. Bonaduce: Everybody recognizes me, but they donŐt care.

Diamond: When I go to the movie theatre, right when the lights go down people shout out "Screeeech!" If someone notices me and wants to get an autograph or something else, usually they're loud about it.

AP: What do you do? Sink down in your chair and wait for it to end?

Diamond: Sometimes I'm a smart-ass about it. I try not to be, but sometimes it weighs on you. You're in a theatre. 'What are you doing here?' 'I'm bowling.' What do they think I'm doing? I'm seeing a movie, I'm not shopping for groceries.

Bonaduce: Oooooh.

Feldman: Ooh, you really have a bad attitude.

Bonaduce: (To Diamond) You know what I do? I have this novel approach. When they come up to me, I say 'Thanks.'

Diamond: That's because you were smoking crack. That's totally different. I have more dignity than that. (Note: Bonaduce was arrested for buying crack in 1990.)

Williams: Let me jump in for a second. (Pointing to Diamond) What he's talking about is something we don't hear because the nature of our roles was different. I was trying to be pseudo-hip, (to Bonaduce) you were the wise-ass. (To Garrett) You were the heartthrob. But he was driving the comedy. He was the silly guy.

AP: Why have you all stayed in entertainment? A lot of people donŐt when they grow up.

Garrett: A lot of them didn't want to in the first place. They were forced into it by their families. But I like being an entertainer.

Bonaduce: I swear to God, I'm not joking: I just don't know how to do anything else.

Feldman: I was doing it because it was what my parents told me I had to do. And by the time I was old enough to make a choice not to, everybody in the world knew who I was. So it was impossible to go work at Taco Bell.

Diamond: If I win the lottery tomorrow and had $300 million... I'd still do stand-up and comedy.

 

 

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