|Amy Berg my hero|
Seattle Times movie critic
Amy Berg’s chilling new documentary “An Open Secret” begins with the on-screen words “The movie Hollywood doesn’t want you to see.” No doubt; it’s an exploration of sexual abuse of children in the entertainment industry, focusing on about a half-dozen specific cases involving young teen or preteen boys. “It’s the tip of the iceberg,” says Anne Henry, a mother who co-founded an organization to support families in the industry. The combination of vulnerable children and parents dazzled by stardom, the film tells us, creates a climate for abuse — often committed, in these stories, by managers and publicists, trusted to safeguard the children in their charge.
Berg, who explored similar territory in her Oscar-nominated film about sex abuse in the Catholic Church (“Deliver Us From Evil”), points out known abusers still working in the industry: actor/former Nickelodeon dialogue coach Brian Peck, a convicted sex offender; agent Martin Weiss, who spent just months in jail after pleading no contest to two counts of committing lewd acts on a child under 14. (That child, now grown and identified only as Evan H., speaks in the film; he bravely tape-recorded Weiss discussing the acts.)
But Berg’s most shocking moment comes late in the film, when a veteran child-talent agent is himself accused of abuse on camera, and doesn’t deny it. “This is not a terrible thing,” he says, “unless you think it is.”
All proceeds of the film go to the Courage to Act Foundation, to help victims of sexual abuse; that sentence alone reminds us that such foundations — and this film — are desperately needed.