H’w’d labors to change work rules

Entertainment industry officials have sent a red flag to state legislators, asking for a speedy amendment to a new law that curbs the number of hours teenagers can work.

Hollywood proponents paid little attention to AB 662 last year when the legislation was winding its way through various committees and state offices. While the Public Affairs Coalition of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers had followed the bill’s progress, they were led to believe that it — like it’s predecessor — would include an exemption for child actors.

That exemption never materialized and the new law, which went into effect Jan. 1, now effectively limits the working day for 14- and 15-year-olds to no later than 7 p.m. during school months and no later than 9 p.m. during the summer. Similarly they can not start work before 7 a.m.

Previously these teens could work as late as 10 p.m. on school days and 12:30 a.m. on non-school days. They could also start work as early as 5 a.m.

The law was passed to make California law conform with federal law. Its greatest effect was for children 15 years of age and younger, but did not affect previous regulations for 16- and 17-year-olds.

“Frankly this bill, as it currently is written, is onerous to the industry,” said Patti Stolkin Archuletta, director of the California Film Commission, noting that many TV programs tape at night.

Recently Kathleen Milnes, veepee of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, sent a letter to the state labor commissioner saying that the AMPTP had been erroneously led to believe that the bill would have no effect on Hollywood.

In response, state labor commissioner Victoria L. Bradshaw said the fact that AB 662 carries no exemption for child actors was unintentional.

“It was not our intent to interfere with the entertainment industry,” Bradshaw said. “In response, there are a number of bills being drawn up to address this problem and I feel relatively confident that one of them will be carried through and allow the law to be revised.”

Yet that could be a lengthy process, estimated to take up to six months. In the interim, Bradshaw said that her office — which has the ability to give out exemptions — is more than willing to work out problems as they arise.

One piece of legislation likely to receive the support of the California Film Commission and other industry groups is AB 1837, which would act as a clean-up bill to allow for an industry exemption.

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