No one, not producers, moneymen, or studio heads, tells Oliver Stone what to cut from his movies. No one, that is, except his 12-year-old son, Sean. When the director showed an early cut of his new film, U-Turn, to his scion, Sean objected to some nudity. ”Too much butt,” he said. The offending shots were speedily excised.
Papa Stone’s not alone in heeding the advice of his child. In fact, EW has evidence that a group of young insiders wield enormous influence in Hollywood. They don’t have titles. They don’t get paid (not counting allowances). But when the kids of the industry’s biggest execs talk, their parents listen:
— After signing the Spice Girls two years ago, Arnold Rifkin, president of William Morris, introduced the then unknowns to his daughters Blythe, now 17, and Rachel, now 13. Their enthusiasm convinced him the group could go global. ”I take them to test screenings, dubbing stages, wherever,” he says. ”It’s a great meter for me.”
— Screenwriter Ron Bass (My Best Friend’s Wedding) cowrote a scene with daughter Jenn, 17, for First Lady, a script about America’s first female president. ”[Teenagers] have a great perspective that isn’t gunked up by all the stuff we carry around with ourselves in the business,” says Bass.
— Warner Music exec David Foster asked daughter Erin, 15, and stepson Brandon, 16, to suggest who should duet with LeAnn Rimes on the title track of the upcoming animated Quest for Camelot. They’re getting back to him.
But the kids aren’t letting power go to their heads. ”They don’t come in and say, ‘Hey, Mom, you should pursue this,”’ says Fox 2000 president Laura Ziskin, who has consulted daughter Julia, 14, on casting choices. ”It’s more by osmosis.”
That could change. MTV Networks chairman Tom Freston — who pays more attention to rap since it’s all his son Andrew, 13, listens to — worries about exposing the power of Hollywood kids: ”I hate to think of my son being worked on by promotion guys.” Make way for ”My kid will call your kid.”