Child stars in pop culture are like pet alligators. They’re cute when young, but they often get flushed before they grow big.
VH1 counts down the top kid stars of the past two decades in the five-part special “100 Greatest Kid Stars,” a nostalgic look back at the biggest names in TV, music and entertainment who burst onto the scene as kids. Hosted by Catherine Reitman — daughter of “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman and once a child actress herself — the special includes old and new interviews and early performance footage from when the stars were kids.
The countdown begins Thursday, Nov. 29, and concludes Sunday, Dec. 2.
It includes such recent stars as Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Dakota Fanning as well as Candace Cameron, Michelle Williams, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Paquin and Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who grew up on-screen during the ’90s. It’s also a nostalgic look back at the shows and movies — including “Full House,” “My So Called Life,” “Family Matters” and “Home Alone” — that made them famous.
Fame and fortune are fickle, and they’ve been especially unforgiving to child stars. For every Ron Howard, Jodie Foster or LeAnn Rimes, there seem to be 10 Corey Feldmans, Danny Bonaduces or Jodie Sweetins. Gary Coleman, Macaulay Culkin, Emmanuel Lewis and basically the entire juvenile cast of “The Brady Bunch” lost their appeal as adults. Many fall victim to addiction and self-destructive behavior. Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen twins usually make headlines for things other than performing. Drew Barrymore, now one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, overcame drugs, alcohol and “The Amy Fisher Story.” Britney Spears had her Kevin Federline phase. Some have more tragic endings, including River Phoenix, Michael Jackson, Judy Garland and Dana Plato, who all succumbed to drug overdoses.