Published May 10, 2013
LOS ANGELES – The momager is a Hollywood hybrid of mother and manager. And like any other hired help, they make a salary, or take a nice cut of their little one’s earnings, for their troubles.
But industry insiders say it’s this conflict of interest – wanting what’s best for your kid, but also wanting what pays the most for you – that makes being a momager way too risky a proposition.
“Parents, when and if possible should trust their children’s careers in the hands of trained professionals who manage talent for a living,” Los Angeles-based talent agent and co-founder of online casting service GotCast, Alec Shankman, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “The parents don’t have to entirely hand over the reins altogether, but the kids still need parents at home for an entirely different type of support than Hollywood can offer.”
Cautionary tales are many.
In the 1970s, momager Teri Shields marketed her model daughter as Brooke Shields & Co. and came under fire for urging her then minor-aged daughter to appear nude in a movie playing a child prostitute and appear in sexualized Calvin Klein Jeans advertisements.
Today Krista Keller Stodden is in charge of her daughter Courtney Stodden’s career, one that started when mom gave permission for Courtney to marry actor Doug Hutchinson when she was only 16.
He was 51.
“Courtney also has many projects in the works for 2013,” Krista told the Huffington Post earlier this year. “Neither Courtney nor I worry about her 15 minutes being up. She’s like Anna Nicole Smith, without the drugs.”
Not surprisingly, momager/child relationships often end quite badly.
R&B crooner Usher was forced to fire his momager, Jonetta Patton, in 2007, citing their “different view and mind-set,” and pointing to her disapproval of his marriage to now ex-wife Tameka Foster. Then there was “Gossip Girl” sensation Leighton Meester whose dispute with her former momager Constance ended in the Los Angeles Superior Court over alleged misuse of funds. In 2011, the court ruled in the actress’s favor. In 2012. “Modern Family” star Ariel Winter successfully petitioned to have her sister, not her momager, granted permanent guardianship.
And we don’t have all day, so we’re not even getting into Dina and Lindsay Lohan.
“Whether [momager] a positive or negative term depends on who you ask,” said Paula Dorn, co-founder of the BizParentz Foundation, a non-profit corporation providing education, advocacy, and charitable support to parents and children engaged in the entertainment industry. “It seems as though many inexperienced parents believe they should be taking on career-enhancing tasks for their child (such as marketing and publicity) without understanding what is appropriate.”
Dorn warned that is simply “unrealistic for most parents to think they have the necessary skills or contacts to navigate the multi-billion dollar entertainment industry effectively for their child,” and that “being a good, attentive mom is most important.” However, she does admit that there are some circumstance where mom does know best when it comes to management.
Dorn’s Momager of the Year? Cinda Snow, mother to veteran actress Brittany Snow.
“Cinda was a momager to her daughter throughout her childhood career, and is now manager for other children,” Dorn said. “She is a very classy, educated and poised woman who not only took her parenting role very seriously, as evidenced by Brittany’s demeanor, but who also navigated a successful career for Brittany. Her adult career is officially in the hands of others now, but she owes her foundation to her mother.”
According to Shankman, it’s all about balance.
“This type of ‘momager’ relationship has been around forever and will continue to be around for a long time,” he said. “But it’s important to be able to differentiate between business and personal. Young talent needs support in both parts of their lives. If it is all business and the kids can’t ever be kids, you can run into issues. And if it’s all personal and there isn’t someone properly managing the kid's business, you can also run into issues.”
Shankman’s “best momager”?
“Kris Jenner has done an incredible job building on-camera careers for each member of her very large family,” Shankman said.
Whether they’ll still be talking to each other in 10 years, remains to be seen.