Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I'm up with Alec's crusade...

Alec BaldwinAlec Baldwin appeared on an extended segment of the US daytime chat show The View, speaking about his new quest: to make significant changes in laws regarding parental alienation in divorce cases.

Remorseful about the unforgivably abusive message he left recently on his daughter's answering service that was heard by millions of people when it was released to the media, he said he sought more counseling (from Dr. Phil, no less); that now his mettle is steeled to take action to stop a process in which one parent is unnecessarily alienated from the other when it comes to custody battles.

Hear his apology for speaking so cruelly to his daughter and about his drive to help parents who are purposefully and without reason other than revenge alienated from their children here.

He explains that he suffers from parental alienation syndrome, which he believes drove him to say the terrible things he did to his daughter.

He says he and his legal team have tried to reach out to his ex-wife, Kim Basinger, through her lawyers so they could have a healthy communication for the sake of their daughter, but over the years they have refused.

Evidence and common sense reveal there are thousands, if not millions of children suffering even more than their custodial and non-custodial parents, for in the end it is the children who not only carry the burden of their parents' hideous dysfunction and brutal treatment of one another - especially when the child is used as the object of a custody tractor pull - but who go on to spread this monumental sickness in their own relationships as they mature.

Even Albert Einstein, arguably the most intelligent man in the world, evah, was not smart enough to avoid being an alienated parent. He suffered for years when he was blocked from seeing or communicating with his two sons following the separation from his first wife. The anguish he endured being deprived of his sons is outlined in his biography Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson.

It must stop. Now.

Alec is making it his mission, his legacy to do what he can to make things right, healthy and just - not only for the sake of the children in vicious custody battles, but for all the parents involved - many of whom will go on to remarry and parent even more children.

Alec's book on parental alienation comes out this fall. It does not involve his own personal battle, but is rather a treatise on the extent, seriousness and backlash from this barbaric situation that exists in the silence of too many darkened homes, in the tortured minds of too many children, custodial and alienated parents.

And it provides answers to heal this rift - revealing how the legal community and others involved too often incite and exacerbate the already miserable situation.

The thing about Alec Baldwin - whether you personally "like" him or not - is that he is a well-intended, rarefied force with which to be reckoned because he is willing to be vulnerable, to let us in, to be as honest as possible with himself and therefore others and to put everything on the line for a cause in which he believes.

Any actor reading this will recognize those are the very traits fine actors must possess.

And, I'd guess, a good parent.

He may be fueled by anger, but his purpose is positive, constructive and three-dimensional, unlike the structure of legal alternatives today for divorcing parents and their children. He's not against anyone, but for fair and just treatment of everyone concerned - especially for the sake of the children and therefore by extension the sake of the parents.

Alec says he is going to devote 3-5 years of his life to this cause, that he doesn't care if he ever acts again in this culture of tabloid press. He asked to be released from his hit show, 30 Rock, but (fortunately for fans like me) was refused by NBC. He did not want to hurt the show by all his bad publicity.

But. Know what?

Who ever released the infamous message?

As misdirected as he was in giving the tape to the media, he has set into motion massive attention to unleash the bedrock of a movement that will only grow exponentially to vindicate its target and unleash truthful testimony that has been locked away in bitter, weeping hearts all too long. The mole will find that his actions of embarrassing Alec will backfire in court and actually solidify the relationship between him and his daughter.

I suggest that after all the dust settles, Mr. Baldwin will not only rise from these ashes like the mythical Phoenix, but triumph in instigating innovative ways that we cannot even imagine right now to help our culture in the coming months and years.

You go, guy.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Alec's reprehensible rant

This hurts.


I am a huge fan of Alec Baldwin and his work.

He is an extraordinary talent and person. I interviewed him last year - his personal warmth, sense of humor, professionalism and desire to help others succeed in this business were clear; the words of wisdom he passed on to movieScope readers profound.

But with the release of the recorded horrific tirade against his 11 year-old daughter, Ireland, he is facing the personal trial of his life: whether to maturely take full responsibility for his actions and make a determined effort to grow up - or not.

To change how he deals with the misery that has been his spiteful divorce proceedings with ex, Kim Basinger - or not.

The PR nightmare resulting from the public airing of the abusive recorded message to his daughter has only been compounded by his reaction.

On his website, he makes an apology and tries to explain his behavior, in part saying that he regrets the words he used (like calling her a "pig") and that his anger was the result of six years of essentially being kicked around through custody battles by his ex-wife.

Here's the problem: there is no acceptable reason, explanation or cause for a father to verbally abuse his child. As in, ever.

If his gripe is with Kim Basinger, that is where he needs to direct his feelings - and has for six years, as she has directed hers against him - with Ireland caught in the middle.

As a parent, his role is to protect his daughter from people like him. To step in between people who for whatever reason personalize and attack children for something over which they have no power.

As a parent, his role is to let go of any feelings other than love, support, care and protection for his child.

The fact that he is attempting to explain his behavior tells us that he's trying to make himself somehow right or that his response would make sense if only we knew more about what *he* is going through.

Alec, that is the point.

It doesn't matter what you are going through. Your role is to protect your kid. Support, nurture, care for and about her.

I know he didn't come up with this abusive behavior in a vacuum. I have no doubt his own childhood and background play a role in his outrageous outburst and that the past six years have worn on him.

But the most important lesson a parent must learn is to stop making himself or herself the center of attention (he and Basinger have both failed to do this); the child should become the most important center of attention for parents the moment she's born.

I hate to think of Ireland being "brainwashed" by Basinger against her father, but he doesn't help his case by portraying himself as a victim rather than suck it up and be a responsible parent.

He spoke to his daughter as if she were knowlingly abusing him - as if he were the target of abuse - while he was in fact abusing her.

He does not seem to comprehend that his role as a parent is to try to understand why she does what she does and help her learn problem solving skills to avoid hurting other people - including him.

What a sad state of affairs for his child.

Who released the tape and why is a subject for the courts to decide. That has nothing to do with his daughter or being a good parent.

I join the chorus of people who care about him, who cry out that they wish he would get counseling to learn how to be the most effective, loving parent despite what he is going through in his divorce custody battle.

His behavior is inexcusable, as is Basinger's.

I join another chorus of people who wonder why these two 49 year-old chldren can't stop making the case against one another more important than the welfare of their child.

Adults can tell children over and over again that they did not cause a divorce. Even if they intellectually understand that - kids still feel and believe that it is their fault.

Kids may even feel at fault for a parent's personally abusive tirade directed specifically at them, when, in fact, it's all about an adult who is incapable of behaving like a responsible parent.

Whoever released the tape doesn't seem to understand that Ireland will suffer from knowing that the public heard her daddy belittle and abuse her so vehemently; reliving those vile, hurtful words along with millions of adults and kids who not only knew that he treated her this way, but heard it for themselves word for word.

Messages left on machines never go away. As in, never.

One of Baldwin's punishments for abusing his child will be that he will have to listen to this tape played in media over and over the rest of his life. The stories they air will have no relation to it, but they will play the message, nonetheless.

I believe it will also cost him jobs.

But all of this should pale to the punishment he suffers minute after minute, forced to live with the fact that he actually spoke to his child so abusively, using those hurtful words, that spiteful tone, with the unmistakeable motive of threatening and trying to scare her into behaving the way he wanted her to.

When we go to war, the first thing each side does is dehumanize the "enemy." That is what Alec and Basinger have done to one another. Now that duo is triangulated to include their innocent daughter, who is only guilty of being born to two people who now clearly and destructively hate one another.

The result, as in any war, is that a child grows up with a certain understanding of hate, enemies, an unfriendly world, believing it's them against the world, hating themselves for "causing" the war, and the probability of being abused by people he or she chooses to love, because that is how they interpret "love."

There's still time to turn it around. Grow up. Both of you. Find out how to deal with your feelings. Love your child enough to stop putting her in the middle of your adult idiocy, using her as a weapon to get revenge against one another.

The sooner you do this the sooner you'll stop being a punch line on late night TV - and the subject of blogs like this one! You have made this private affair the public's business - because we have witnessed a little girl be verbally abused, no matter the "cause" or who is to "blame"!

Divorce lawyers - how about earning your huge fees working in the best interest of the child; stop dividing these people any more than you have; help them become the world's best parents - and positive public role models for couples who are undergoing equally venemous divorces.

Only because of its already public venue, I suggest that Alec and Basinger get together with Dr. Phil to understand how to relate to their child in the most healthy way before it's too late. It would be a public service because there is no longer the possibility of privacy; show others how to save their kids from the hell this infamous couple has already put their daughter through.

Dr. Phil, take the wheel.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Growing up too fast"

There are several news stories out now in newspapers, TV and radio about protecting kids from "growing up too fast" - from being exposed to - and partaking in - drugs, alcohol and violence.

But ask any psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor: engaging in these activities and abusing mood-altering chemicals at a young age results in preventing an individual from growing up.

They actually keep us immature.

Significant steps in our maturation stop literally the day a child takes his or her first drink, drug or is severly traumatized by violence. Addiction is much more likely to occur if a kid takes a drink or drug at a younger age.

According to Robert Downey Jr., his father gave him his first hit of marijuana when he was 8 years old and was allowed to partake in addictive substances, including alcohol, as a child. According to addiction experts, children and women are more easily addicted to alcohol and drugs because of their physiology than adult men.

And addiction is no stranger to grown men.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, a noted child psychiatrist I interviewed from Seattle's Children's Hosptial and Medical Center told me the way children can recover from even the most traumatic experiences is to talk about their feelings.

However, addictions prevent abusers from processing - recognizing and talking about - memories or feelings in order to mature. When kids aren't taught systems with which to handle negative emotions or experiences, the fallout from those feelings and troubles can linger and fester - harming the individual's ability to deal effectively with life's ups and downs as well as blocking a significant part of the emotional and intellectual maturation process.

Several adult friends of mine regret ever lighting up that first cigarette or joint, or abusing alcohol. Not because they ever got "hooked" or addicted, nor were these "gateway" drugs ("lighter" drugs that lead to hard drug abuse) or because their lives were in any way messed up or ruined by them, but because they simply were not necessary.

They only took time away from the clarity they enjoy now not taking any mind-altering substances - especially the misery and time it took to quit smoking!

I'm one of them. What a waste of time. Even though I started when I was a young adult and not a kid, and quit smoking and drinking decades ago, I still wish I had never started. I'm someone who wants to make the most of her life; chemicals don't enhance that experience for me - they detract from it.

It's probably impossible to convince youngsters how much of their youth is robbed by sucking up cigarettes and booze or taking drugs because they mistakingly believe abusing drugs and alcohol is a sign of maturity - where in fact it is a sign of immaturity.

It's immature to get behind the wheel of a one-ton lethal weapon after drinking or drugging.

It's immature to escape feelings and refusing to grow up drinking and drugging.

It's immature to instigate violence.

Violence not only enforces simplistic, ineffective solutions for complex problems, but witnessing violence traumatizes not just those who experience it, but even those who execute it; those doing the shooting and hurting others.

Why do you think there are so many soldiers - who firmly believe they're doing the right thing - suffering from post traumatic stress disorder?

Again, from all I've seen and experienced, smoking, drinking, drugs and violence keeps those parts of us that have not developed immature. Literally preventing us from becoming all we can become, all we can genuinely experience in order to live life fully.

It always makes me laugh when notorious alcoholics and drug addicts die and are described as people who "lived life to the fullest."

Um, no. Drugs, alcohol and violence actually prevent us from living life fully - I mean, what good is having a "great time" if we can't remember it or suffer the sickness of a hangover the next day or two or three after - preventing us from doing anything except recovering?

Or suffer from life-altering injuries, severe trauma, are killed or put in jail because of violent acts?

It's true of artists. Who can create honestly, love openly, share our talent fully, if we're "under the influence" that prevents us from accessing our deepest thoughts and feelings.

An interesting study in Canada revealed that great artists don't do great work while they were under the influence or suffering from depression or bipolar disorder, but in fact when they were free from those things - lucid, sober and not distracted by demons.

However, because those experiences tended to be their most vivid and recent memories, that is what they tend to create in their work - painting, writing, and so on.

You may consider these things when you are creating characters as a writer, actor or director.

To be clear - I personally don't care if adults imbibe or partake of anything they choose as long as they don't endanger anyone else as they do it.

However you choose to define living your life to its fullest and being genuinely happy - whatever that is - is just right for you.

It is your body, your mind, your life.

I thought you might find these thoughts interesting.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,