‘Nation’ Panel II: You Don’t Need a Bike to Backpedal
July 18, 2007 5:00 PM
After the dramatic TCA panel, the "Kid Nation” story exploded.
The best follow-up story at this early hour is from ABC News, which added some original reporting about the New Mexico labor law issue. Washington Post’s Lisa de Moraes also weighed in with some good transcript action.
As for the panel, it’s tough to do the drama justice. Critics hit executive producer Tom Forman about a myriad of legal and ethical aspects of the “Nation” production, many based on TVWeek’s “The Founding of Kid Nation” exclusive. Forman tended to follow a pattern of glib denial, obfuscation, then hesitant admission.
On “Founding” stating that New Mexico was chosen due to having loose labor laws: “No.” Then: “Well, I don’t have the story in front of me.” Then: “We picked New Mexico because it had the right location.” Then: “We subsequently checked with our attorneys who investigated the legality of shooting the show and reported back that there wasn’t any problem.” Then: “It’s less child labor laws than labor laws.” Then, when asked if the show could be shot in California, which has tighter labor laws than New Mexico: “I don’t think so, no.” A critic asks: "Does it trouble you at all that, if I follow this story correctly, the way you filmed 'Kid Nation' would be illegal in a number of states?" Forman: “Is it something I think about? Of course."
On a production crew member quoted in “Founding” saying kids sometimes worked from 7 a.m. until midnight: “I don’t know who that production crew member is.” Then: “The kids woke up whenever they wanted and went to bed whenever they wanted. We were going to follow their lead.”
On “Founding” reporting that the “ghost town” chosen by Forman was actually a longtime film set built amid the ruins of a former ghost town: “Bonanza City was a real New Mexico mining town.” Then: “We also needed a place with 45 real buildings that these kids could populate and live in safely, where we had the flexibility to actually make a television show.” Then: “Some of the buildings are originals. Some have been built over the last hundred years. A couple we built ourselves.” Then, after a critic noted, “No buildings in a ghost town look anything like the buildings I saw on [the 'Nation' preview]," Forman said: “You have some existing stone structures from the original town.” To which the critic replied: “So as far as original ones, those were not the wooden ones we saw [in the show].” Forman: “Right.”
On “Founding” stating that “Nation” likely would have to find a new state to shoot a second season due to New Mexico changing its laws: “We’re not even there yet.” Then: “I plan to find the right location that seems right for the kids and right for the show and investigate the laws at that location. Until I do that, I just don’t know.”
After the panel, Forman said the next production may be shot outside the United States, which presumably would make the child labor law issue easier to navigate. And who knows? If the kids have some spare time, they could also make shoes.
Note: Some media reports say Forman shot down TVWeek's claim that New Mexico labor laws were changed due to the show. Only problem: TVWeek claimed no such thing. "Founding" said the opposite, that the new rules were not directly inspired by "Nation." Others say CBS denies they "broke" labor laws. Again, story says the opposite -- that CBS did not break labor laws. The facts in the story were ran by CBS and Forman. Their spin is different from what production sources told TVWeek (nobody's going to declare at TCA: "We hunted down a state with loose labor laws and a fake ghost town -- ha!"), but the facts are the same.