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Q&A: The Coogan Law and protecting young actors' pay

Protecting young actors' money

After Jackie Coogan's parents stole most of his earnings and it became such a big scandal, California enacted a state law requiring that locked trust funds be set up for child stars, with the money not available to parents or agents or managers. So how were Gary Coleman's parents able to get access to his trust fund?

Loopholes made the original Coogan Law, which was created in 1939, ineffective, according to the Screen Actors Guild. In January 2000, changes in California law affirmed that earnings by minors in the entertainment industry are the property of the minor, not the parents. Because a minor cannot legally control his own money, California law governs his earnings and creates a fiduciary relationship between the parent and the child, according to SAG.

This change in California law also requires that 15 percent of all minors' earnings must be set aside in a blocked trust account commonly known as a Coogan Account. Further changes were made to the law in 2004, according to SAG.

In 1989, Coleman sued his former business adviser and parents (after they petitioned the court to appoint a conservator over Coleman's needs) over their mismanagement and misappropriation of his $3.8 million trust fund. He won a $1.28 million ruling in February 1993 stemming from what the court found were excessive salaries, fees, commissions and pension distribution taken by his parents, Willie and Sue Coleman, from April 1982 to December 1987.

Coleman died May 28 at the age of 42 from a brain hemorrhage caused by a fall. But that didn't end the legal fighting. His estranged parents have been at odds with Coleman's former wife, Shannon Price, about the actor's estate. Price and Coleman were living together when he died.

'Dexter' returns this fall

Could you tell me what happened to a show called Dexter? It was on Showtime. Will it be back or is it gone forever?

It will return for a fifth season in the fall. The fourth season will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Aug. 17.

Same name, no relation

Are Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin on The Young and the Restless) and the guy that played Joey on Friends related?

Matt LeBlanc of Friends, who turns 43 on Sunday, and Christian LeBlanc, 51, are not related.

Actor-musician isn't blind

Is Alex Desert, who plays Jake the blind newsstand owner on Becker, blind in real life?

No, he is not. What he is, though, is an accomplished actor and musician who sings for the ska and reggae band Hepcat (www.hepcatlive.com). Desert turned 40 on July 18.

Q&A: The Coogan Law and protecting young actors' pay 07/22/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 22, 2010 10:08am]
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