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California Gov. Jerry Brown signs law to protect child actors

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California Gov. Jerry Brown.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Thursday a measure that is expected to protect children working in the entertainment industry by barring registered sex offenders from representing minors in the business.

The bill, AB 1660, requires any person who works unsupervised with child artists to submit his or her name and a fee to the Labor Commissioner; doing so will permit background checks and screening of that person. Until the bill was signed, only studio teachers and agents were required to have background checks and undergo fingerprinting.

The bill was filed after news broke that Jason James Murphy, a prominent casting director who'd placed kids in films such as "Super 8" was a registered sex offender who was convicted of kidnapping and molesting an 8-year-old boy 15 years earlier. Murphy wasn't the only example of why minors in the business needed greater protection; in June, manager Martin Weiss pleaded no contest to two felony counts of child molestation.

The bill had support from two high-profile former child actors: Todd Bridges and Corey Feldman, both of whom were molested by men with Hollywood connections. The actors spoke openly about the need for more legislation. "We are not doing enough to protect the children, period," said Bridges, who appeared on "Diff'rent Strokes" from 1978-86.

Feldman, who as a young actor appeared in films such as "The Goonies," "Stand By Me" and "The Lost Boys," said in April, "(the bill) should have been implemented years ago."

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