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Date TimeAugust 30, 2019
VoiceThe film Judy tracks the final year of Judy Garland’s life, the quintessential cautionary tale of child stardom. The list of tragic names since suggest things have not improved much – although some directors are trying
Drugs, exploitation, 72-hour shifts: can Hollywood take care of its child stars?
Judy Garland was a walking ghost story. Watch footage of the patron saint of child stars from any time after The Wizard of Oz, made when she was 16, and you see a woman haunted by the girl she never had a chance to be. How that haunting ended is the subject of a new movie, Judy, starring Renée Zellweger as Garland in 1969, middle-aged in London, broke and addicted. She was doomed long before then. The details – an adolescent starlet destroyed by studio executives – remain less ghost story than horror movie.
For generations, Garland has been a cautionary tale for kids who might venture on to the big screen. But the comfort of Judy, in theory at least, is that of a story safely in the past. How terrible the old times were; how long ago it was. Well, maybe. This summer, BBC aired the mini-series Dark Money, concerning a 13-year-old British actor abused by a Hollywood producer. The message came as a jolt, the suggestion of a film business that feeds on the young.

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