Former child actor and star of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Alex Winter delves into the lives of other former child actors in the documentary Showbiz Kids. The film will premiere on HBO on Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 9pm ET/PT and features interviews with actors about their experiences growing up in the spotlight.
“This is a story I’ve been wanting to tell for many years,” stated Winter. “Having grown up in the business I’ve never seen the experiences of a child actor, from their early career through to the transition into adulthood, told from the perspective of those involved. I’m honored that these talented actors trusted me with their very personal stories.”
Winter’s film provides a peek behind the curtain into the early careers of actors Henry Thomas (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), Mara Wilson (Mrs. Doubtfire), Todd Bridges (Diff’rent Strokes), and Milla Jovovich (The Night Train To Kathmandu). Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen), the late Cameron Boyce (Jessie) Jada Pinkett Smith (A Different World), Wil Wheaton (Stand by Me), and the late silent film star Diana Serra Cary (“Baby Peggy”) are also featured in Showbiz Kids.
Alex Winter wrote, directed, and produced Showbiz Kids. Glen Zipper also produces, and Bill Simmons, Nancy Abraham, and Lisa Heller executive produce.
Showbiz Kids Description, Courtesy of HBO:
Showbiz Kids offers an unvarnished look at the high risk, high reward business of working as a child actor in the entertainment industry. The film chronicles the personal and professional price of fame and failure on a child. Those who know the industry best, including several successful child actors and two aspiring hopefuls, unpack their own complicated experiences as they reconcile the hardships they’ve faced and sacrifices they’ve made on their way to finding success in show business.
Winter relies on the perspectives of many of his peers to explore the complexities of growing up under the glare of Hollywood’s spotlight, refusing to shy away from the more difficult truths about the industry. Winter’s commitment to creating an honest representation of a complicated industry stems from his own childhood in show business, beginning as a child actor on Broadway at the age of ten.
In contrast to the celebrity actors, the film also follows two aspiring young hopefuls: Demi Singleton, an up and coming teenage performer looking to book her next big Broadway show; and Marc Slater, a young unknown from Florida who moved to Los Angeles with his mother for pilot season. The young actors and their parents work tirelessly to break into the highly competitive business while struggling to balance the demands of auditioning, working and maintaining a healthy childhood with friends and family.
Through film footage, behind the scenes clips, and rare audition tapes, Showbiz Kids offers a glimpse into life on set for these young professionals. The actors discuss the challenges of navigating the industry at such a young age and the lasting effect that the public’s gaze has on self-esteem and feelings of isolation. Many also speak to the complicated relationships they have with their parents, the pressures of balancing grueling work schedules with life beyond set, and the disturbing prevalence of abuse and exploitation in the industry.
Showbiz Kids peels back Hollywood’s velvet curtain, shining a spotlight on the glamour and allure of working in the entertainment industry, while also affording a sobering window on the tolls that early success can take on young professionals.