LOS ANGELES – TLC canceled ”Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” on Friday after photos surfaced of star Mama June hanging out with a convicted child molester.
In August, “Sons of Guns” star Will Hayden was arrested on multiple rape charges against minors. His daughter, another star on the show, then told “Dr. Phil” that she too had been touched inappropriately. Discovery, which owns TLC, swiftly canceled that show, too.
In 2013, reality TV producer Donald Luciano – who worked on some episodes of OWN’s reality program “Beverly’s Full House” about the life of former supermodel Beverly Johnson – pled guilty to possession of images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
So does reality TV have a pedophile problem?
“The issue is not just about reality TV. Hollywood bears a lot of responsibility normalizing this behavior by sexualizing young girls. Look at the way former Disney starlets get pushed into overtly sexual roles as soon as they become adults,” said Dan Gainor, Vice President of Culture at the Media Research Center. “Too bad director Roman Polanski doesn’t get the (quick cancelation) treatment. He got an Oscar and a standing ovation and he raped a 13-year-old girl.”
Alec Shankman, Head of Alternative Programming & Digital Media at Abrams Artists Agency, noted that reality TV background checks are extremely thorough and have even been amped up recently, but also acknowledged that it is impossible to catch everything – or everyone.
“In the ‘Honey Boo Boo’ scenario, the guy wasn’t even on the show,” he said. “Given that out of the thousands of reality TV participants over the years, there is really just a small handful of alleged child molesters and predators. I wouldn’t say it is a problem in the genre, certainly no bigger than throughout the rest of Hollywood.”
California-based criminal defense attorney Leo Terrell of CleartheCourt.com, noted that “our state prisons are filled with these monsters. The abuse is magnified when one of these predators appeared on a reality television show and/or is a public figure. Producers are seeking individuals who are characters. Seedy people are welcomed to these programs.”
Terrell commended Discovery for canceling its shows once troubling information about their stars surfaced..
“Discovery -- and others -- are not obliged to wait for the slow wheels of justice,” he said. “Plus there is heat from advertisers who will not tolerate inaction.”
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