Monday, August 31, 2009

Comic Explosion: Disney Buys Marvel Entertainment

by Wayne Friedman, Source: Media Post

Making a dramatic move to broaden its products/characters for more of an older boy/teen audience, Walt Disney has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in stock and cash.

Marvel is the home of such high-profile, major comic-book characters as Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America and Fantastic Four. Disney will acquire Marvel Entertainment, taking control of more than 5,000 Marvel characters. The deal gives Marvel shareholders $30 a share in cash plus about three-quarters in Disney shares for each Marvel share they own.

This would be Disney's boldest and biggest move since buying up Pixar Animation Studios in 2006 for $7.4 billion. The computer animation company has had an unprecedented string of theatrical hits -- all of which has helped Disney expand to a broad range of audiences.

Pixar shifted Disney's emphasis, which traditionally relied on many animated and other entertainment properties catering to young girls/ teen girls. For example, Pixar's "Cars," the movie franchise, was a major hit for young boys.

The Marvel deal goes much further. Marvel's characters -- especially Iron Man, Spider-Man and X-Men -- have been major box-office theatrical sellers, giving Disney the audiences it has been seeking for some time.

"Now, Disney has properties to appeal for kids as they get older," says Gareb Shamus, CEO of Wizard Entertainment, which owns Wizard magazine.

On the television front, for example, TV analysts say Disney Channel has been highly successful with the "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana" franchises, especially in targeting young girls/teen girls. Only recently has Disney moved to push more into boys/teen properties with its Jetix-brand programming, which runs on Toon Disney channel. Marvel brands could find their way to these platforms.

Good news for Disney is that Marvel has been successful in creating younger, more-friendly, more Disney-like characters for Iron Man and Spider-Man, says Shamus. Disney is already a powerhouse when it comes to licensing and merchandising. Having more powerful boy properties only adds to Disney's strength, he says.

Shamus adds that Disney has been successful in leveraging its toy licensees to help market its brands -- especially with its major Mattel toy licensee. Hasbro has been Marvel Entertainment's key toy licensee for its products. "Now they are going to get Hasbro leverage," he says.

Because of Marvel properties' attraction for young boys/men, Shamus says more marketing possibilities could occur with ESPN sports TV shows, for example, which also target young men.

Nirvana's Kurt Cobain Makes Post-Mortem Appearance As A Playable Avatar in 'Guitar Hero 5'

Nirvana guitar player and singer Kurt Cobain makes his first ever video game appearance in 'Guitar Hero 5.'
Fans of Kurt Cobain will either be thrilled or annoyed at the latest exploitation of the late grunge rock icon.

In an official press release, gaming company Activision confirmed that the legendary Nirvana frontman will be a playable character in their September 1 release of ‘Guitar Hero 5.’

The game will feature two playable songs from Nirvana’s repertoire, the 1991 smash hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and a live version of “Lithium” taken from a performance at England’s Reading festival in 1992.

“Kurt Cobain is one of the most recognizable frontmen in rock-and-roll history,” states the Activision press release, “and it’s an honor to have two of Nirvana’s masterpieces included.”

"'Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is a song that we’ve had at the top of our wish list ever since I came to Guitar Hero,” Tim Riley, Activision’s Vice President of Music Affairs, told Rolling Stone. “Then after three years of working with the different parties, it was like the perfect storm.”

Activision’s long process of acquiring the rights to Nirvana properties involved getting the seal of approval from Courtney Love, Cobain’s widow, as well as former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl and Universal Publishing.

“Courtney supplied us with photos and videos and knew exactly what she wanted Kurt to look like,” Riley told Rolling Stone. “She picked the wardrobe and hair style, which turned out to be the ‘Teen Spirit’ look.”

Nirvana was at the forefront of the Seattle grunge movement in the early ‘90s, and changed the face of music with their release of the teen angst anthem "Nevermind." The band’s fame was cut short when Cobain committed suicide in 1994, citing popularity as being a source of his woes in a final note written to fans.

In 2001, Love sued surviving band members Grohl and Krist Novoselic over ownership to Nirvana’s music. After a year of deliberation, the case ended in a settlement.

Guitar Hero, the popular video game series where players simulate the role of a guitar player in a live rock band, is played by matching a series of rhythms and patterns on a special guitar-shaped controller to an on-screen display.

Members from such bands as Metallica and Aerosmith have previously lent out their images to become playable avatars in the popular music game.

Taylor Lautner Shows Off His 'New Moon' Muscles In Teen Vogue: Cover Story

by Amy Wilkinson; Source MTV

"Twilight" may have been Taylor Lautner's breakout movie, but "New Moon" will likely be the one that makes him a star. Anyone who's seen even a smidgen of promotion for the sequel knows this is the Taylor show—he even got his own "Meet Jacob Black" trailer. With his star on the rise, the 17-year-old sat down with Teen Vogue (see his full cover image after the jump!) to talk about how he got into acting, the kind of girl that digs Jacob (Selena Gomez, perhaps?) and the constant paparazzi attention.

Growing up in Michigan, Taylor never aspired to be an actor; in fact, his passion was Xtreme Martial Arts, a sport that involves acrobatic flips in addition to the usual punches and kicks. (If you want to see for yourself, just do a YouTube search and you'll find a tiny Taylor flaunting his moves). When he retired at all of 13-years-old he had four world champion titles to his name. It was his coach who suggested he give acting a try. "I liked it. Taking on roles that were the opposite of what I could be in real life? That's still my favorite thing," Taylor said.

Taylor's least favorite thing about his fairly fast rise to fame? The paparazzi. "There are twelve cars that camp outside my house," he marveled. "You can't ever really get used to it, because it's not normal to have people snapping pictures of everything you do. You just have to try not to let it affect you."

Though Taylor's humble about his "Twilight" saga success — "I think the fans would love anybody who played Jacob" — he does have a theory about the kind of girls who love Jacob. "If she likes having a really close friendship with a guy, being able to tell him anything, and then having that friendship slowly transform into something more ..." But Taylor was mum when asked if his relationship with Disney star Selena Gomez followed a similar trajectory, simply saying, "She's a great girl." And don't expect him to spill on that rumored Robert Pattinson-Kristen Stewart relationship either. "It's crazy," he admits, "but the fans help. They're a big part of the motivation."

Why Don't Teens Tweet? We Asked Over 10,000 of Them.

Source: Washington Post

This guest post is written by Geoff Cook, cofounder and CEO of social networking site myYearbook. Everything about Twitter is looking up these days, except for a few pesky uptime issues of course. But a number of recent reports also suggest teens are one demographic that just doesn't seem to be embracing Twitter like the rest of us. So while I'm excited to see Robert Scoble proclaims that Twitter is worth a cool $10 billion, it might be a good idea to analyze a little data to try to understand why teens just don't think Twitter is as rad as the rest of us.

Over the last few months everyone has weighed in on the question of "Why Don't Teens Tweet" ? except, it would appear, teens. We recently ran a survey of 10,000+ US teens aged 13 ? 17 to see if we could add anything new to the question. As it turns out, the question itself is flawed.

To date, reasons given for the alleged aversion of teens to Twitter have ranged from the condescending "Because they have nothing to say," to the responsible "Because it doesn't feel safe," to the Letterman-like "Because they can't afford it" ? at least without a mobile data plan.

Of course, all of these reasons are predicated on the widely accepted notion that "Teens Don't Tweet" ? that there is a phenomenon that needs to be explained. As recently as last week even, the New York Times cited the fact that only 11% of Twitter is teen as evidence of Twitter's unpopularity to that group.

The implication is that 11% is a small number, but if we look deeper, it turns out that Twitter has a higher concentration of teens than Facebook. You can see in the chart below that Facebook is only 9% teen, so Twitter is actually more teen than Facebook, which rightly has never been perceived as having a "teen problem." Facebook has so many users that teens just can't be that large a percentage of the service, by definition.

Nielsen also suggested that "Teens Don't Tweet" in a report that was destined to become a trending topic on Twitter itself. Almost as quickly as it came out, a number of bloggers, including Danah Boyd, debunked the study for charting the age group 2 ? 24 and yet drawing conclusions about teens, noting there are not too many 2-year-olds on Twitter.

To be sure, the truthiness of the headline "Teens Don't Tweet" is persuasive. It really does feel true, and on one level it is: the vast majority of teens don't tweet. Of course, the vast majority of the adult population doesn't tweet either.

As it turns out, teens actually tweet more than the general population, prompting Silicon Valley Insider to say yesterday, "Kids Don't Hate Twitter Anymore." According to comScore, Twitter's unique visitor composition index in the 12 ? 17 age group is 118 (a value over 100 represents a higher concentration of unique visitors from that age group as compared to the age group's concentration across the entire web). More interestingly, Twitter's 12 ? 17 composition index of 118 is higher than its composition index in the 25 ? 34 and 35 ? 44 age groups. The bottom line: Twitter actually skews more teen than the average site, and much more teen than Facebook.

Similarly, the teens who visit Twitter do so 5.2 times per month, more often than users aged 25 ? 44, who visit fewer than 5 times per month.

But, there is a lot more to the story than widespread misinterpretation of data. After all, why don't the majority of teens tweet? The issue of teens and Twitter first got legs when Morgan Stanley published an influential report written by Matthew Robson, a 15-year-old intern from the UK, which became an instant hit. Here is the reason the report suggested that teens don't tweet:

Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they realize that they are not going to update it (mostly because texting twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit).

To validate this explanation, we ran a survey asking thousands of US teens whether text messaging charges have anything to do with whether or not they use Twitter, and over 90% said: "No ? I wouldn't use Twitter anyway." (Note: unlimited texting plans are common in the US, whereas the Morgan Stanley report was written from the perspective of a UK teen.)

Robson also observed his friends and classmates in the UK signing up for the service and then never using it again, a pattern that proves very similar in the US. In fact, in our survey, we found that 45% of teens aged 13 ? 17 who have a Twitter account don't tweet. Most send a few and stop altogether, and 17% never sent a single one.

Similarly, we looked into the idea that maybe teens are turned off by Twitter's openness and consider it unsafe. We found no support for this hypothesis either, with almost no one citing "It's too open" or "It's not safe" as reasons they don't use Twitter, as the chart below shows.

So why? Why doesn't Twitter engender passion in even most of the teens who take the plunge and sign up for an account? The answer lies in the reasons teens do use Twitter. Of teens with a Twitter account, the top 4 reasons cited for using the service are, in order:

Update My StatusKeep Up With My Favorite Musicians, Bands, or CelebritiesStay Current with What's Going On in the WorldKeep Up with Friends I Know

If we break down those top reasons one by one, a clearer picture emerges of why Twitter is not more popular among teens.

Teens already update their status religiously on other sites like Facebook, MySpace, and myYearbook.Teens use MySpace to keep up with musicians and celebrities, which MySpace differentiates on.As a group, teens are not major consumers of news from any outlet, making "staying current" a poor driver of mainstream adoption ? though of course there are exceptions.Teens use both MySpace and Facebook to keep up with friends they know.

Given the above, it is no surprise that teen penetration is not higher. The value proposition of Twitter to the majority of teens is the issue.

No doubt, this is why most teens describe Twitter as "not for me", and also why most teens who are not on Twitter cite the generic reason why as "Because it's lame." Twitter doesn't help most of them do anything new, so to them, it is lame. Of course, for those teens who are celebrity hounds or compulsive news followers, or those looking for an audience for their status updates, Twitter is invaluable.

But now we have come full circle. Most teens don't use Twitter because it doesn't enable them to do anything they can't already do elsewhere, which is the same reason most adults don't use Twitter. It has nothing to do with any teen-specific concerns like texting plans or safety. It comes down to something more simple: delivering value beyond Facebook and MySpace ? a competitive moat that Facebook is bridging one move at a time, from the Everyone button to the acquisition of FriendFeed to the centrality of the stream itself.

The question of "Why Don't Teens Use Twitter?" is the question of "Why Doesn't Everyone Use Twitter?" The answer, it would seem, is both obvious and heretical ? maybe Twitter isn't for everyone.

Additional Teens & Twitter Survey Results:

Disclaimer: Here is some more info on the panel of teens we surveyed. We don't claim the 10,000+ survey results represent the definitive survey of teens in the US. We do, however, claim that our users look very much like the users of other social networks and that our audience overlaps significantly with MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, and that the insights of myYearbook teens may be useful to this analysis.

Secrets of the King of Tween

iCarly Creator, Dan Schneider (second from left).

Fortunately, the show's creator, Dan Schneider, is a one-man comic spark. He barks out the order: Bring in the flash paper that will be placed inside one of the young actor's smoothie-shop cups. The scene starts again, the smoke effect goes off -- pop! -- without anyone getting singed, and hilarity ensues.

Meanwhile, the career of the man behind it all remains relentlessly, well, on fire.

Schneider, a former teen actor (TV's "Head of the Class"), is arguably the most successful tween-show creator/producer of his generation: He has shepherded seven straight hits, helping to launch the careers of such young actors as Amanda Bynes, Jamie Lynn Spears, Drake Bell and Josh Peck, and now Cosgrove. His latest Nickelodeon project, "Victorious," is a "Fame"-esque comedy that stars Victoria Justice.

What's his secret? Here are seven Ingredients for Success we came up with after cornering the creator, his stars and his colleagues:

It's acting, not 'drama.' As a veteran of some unpleasant sets while a young actor, Schneider has a rule: "There's no drama on set, even if the show is a drama." Jerry Trainor, the physically gifted actor (think a 30ish Jim Carrey) who plays Carly's elder brother/quasi-guardian, concurs. "It's so much fun on the set," he says.

Don't talk down to the kids. Even interacting with tweens on the set, Schneider has a knack for talking to them, not at them. "He knows what kids like," Cosgrove says. "It's really difficult -- it's harder than people think: to make kids laugh but not insult them. He's really good at that."

Have an uncanny eye for talent. Schneider discovered Cosgrove when she was 8 and soon cast her in "Drake & Josh." And he cast Justice in the Emmy-nominated "Zoey 101" when she was barely a teenager, the actress says. Now, Schneider is convinced Justice is poised to be a breakout performer.

Show loyalty. "The core of Dan the person is that he is loyal, and he looks [for ways] to use people he likes," says Trainor, whom Schneider first cast in "Drake & Josh." "He's got that memory."

Embrace techno toys. "I love the Web in a big way," says Schneider, who on set looks like a grown-up video-gamer, as he types script notes on a laptop, eyes the camera angles and posts Twitpics. He first tried to give a character a Web show about a decade ago, with "The Amanda Show" -- but he was too far ahead of the curve. With "iCarly," the timing dovetailed perfectly. "He dials in to what kids already do," Trainor says.

Find that funny word. As a writer, Schneider can offer a mini-thesis on why "banana" is funnier than "apple." And if he can't find that just-right word, well, he'll make it up. For one episode, "I made up the word 'hobknocker,'" recounts Schneider, citing a coinage meaning "fool."

Work around the clock. As he embarks on his eighth straight show, Schneider does admit to one downside: He feels like "an engine that never gets a chance to relax," and says he works 100 hours a week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Study Suggests Alcohol Ads Target Teens

Source: FOX News

The beer and spirits industries either deliberately advertise to underage children despite pledges otherwise, or they are really, really lousy at matching expensive ad time with the right demographics.

This is the conclusion of a study to be published in the October issue of American Journal of Public Health, which found a striking correlation between teenage viewership and the frequency of alcohol advertising on cable television.

The study could not prove nefarious intent. Maybe, upon reading the new study, alcohol marketers will be as red-faced as their intoxicated clientele, wasting hundreds of millions of advertising dollars on an audience they don't want to reach. That is, why advertise beer and liquor on shows that teenagers watch? You might as well advertise Omaha steak in Vegetarian Times.

Or it could be, as anyone not drunk on cheap beer could ascertain, these industries are directly marketing a product to a demographic largely too irresponsible to consume it.

Coincidentally, U.S. study in 2006 found that $23 billion is spent each year on alcohol that is consumed by underage drinkers.

Frank Coleman, of the Distilled Spirits Council, said he does not agree with the study.

"The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth’s conclusion in its recent study that teens are 'over-exposed' to alcohol advertising obscures the fact that while advertising on cable television increased from 2001-2006, federal government statistics clearly show that alcohol consumption among eighth, tenth and twelfth graders has declined over the past decade," he said in a press release. "Simply put, their claim that an increase in alcohol advertising is causing teens to drink is unsupported by scientific data."

The Wink-Wink Ban

Broadcast television long maintained a voluntary ban on advertising spirits. This lasted even after the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States in 1996 ended its 60-year voluntary policy not to air TV and radio liquor ads. But broadcast television changed its tune this year, as CBS ran an Absolute Vodka ad during the Grammys in February.

Pressure abounds as alcohol advertisement dollars remain a reliable source of revenue for television in these dark economic times. And cable television, the Wild West of advertising, sucks them up. Back in the 1990s, MTV, with its audience almost entirely under age 21, was rife with beer and liquor ads.

According to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, which participated in this latest study, from 2001 to 2006 alcohol advertisements increased by 176 percent and expenditures increased by 137 percent, from $157 million to $372 million. Cable is home to 95 percent of all alcohol advertisements on national television networks.

Advocacy groups have complained about ads seemingly directed at underage drinkers. At issue is the high percentage of alcohol abuse among teenagers and its relationship with violence, injury and unintended sex and pregnancy. Studies have found one-third of 12th graders report recent binge drinking.

In 2003, the beer and spirits industries strengthened voluntary guidelines, withholding ads on shows with 30 percent or more viewers under age 21. Still, that leaves lots of wiggle room.

Know Thy Market

This latest study was done by researchers at several universities and institutes, including UCLA, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins and RAND. Using advertising industry data from Nielsen Media Research, they examined more than 608,000 national cable alcohol ads from 2001 through 2006 shown to audiences with fewer than 30 percent of viewers between the ages of 12 and 20. Here are a few of the funny coincidences they found:

Each one-percentage-point increase in adolescent viewership was associated with a 7-percent increase in beer ads, a 15-percent increase in spirits ads, and a 22-percent increase in ads for alcopops, those sweet alcoholic beverages popular with teenagers and girly-drink aficionados.

For alcopops, ad incidence was strongly associated with adolescent girl viewership; each one-point increase in the percentage of female adolescent audience was associated with a 5-percent increase in alcopop ads.

Ads for wine, which isn't popular among teenagers — even the kind of wine so bad that it is advertised on television — decreased by 8 percent with each one-percentage-point increase in adolescent viewership.

Coleman said the "distilled spirits industry is committed to responsible advertising guided by its rigourous Code of Responsible Practices, with its 70 percent 21 years of age and older demographic standard and transparant public reports."

Deductive Reasoning

One could argue that Spuds MacKenzie and the Budweiser frogs were targeted not at children watching the Super Bowl ads in which they debuted but rather at the sophisticated beer connoisseur, enamored and inspired by these fictional creatures.

You'd have a tougher time arguing that alcopop commercials on "The Simple Life," nominated for Teen Choice Awards four years in a row, were placed there for no other reason than to prime teenager girls for underage drinking.

Maybe you're fine with teenage drinking. Maybe you're fine with unchecked advertising of alcohol on television. But perhaps everyone should be irked by the alcohol industry's proclamation of social responsibility with a wink of the eye.

LiveScience contributed to this report.

Press Release: Teen Recording Artist Chantel 'Chani' Christie Announced to Present at the 19th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards

HOLLYWOOD, Calif., Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Recording artist, model, actress and author, Chantel "Chani" Christie, has been announced to join the star studded line up of presenters at the 19th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards, held August 31, 2009 at 7 P.M. (PT) at the Director's Guild of America in Los Angeles, California. Chani is the author of the bestselling book "I Want to Live: A Teenagers Guide to Finding Self Love," and has just released her hit web series "Chani's Story." Already a reality television star, she is currently in talks to co-star in a new yet untitled television show about two best friends.

"I'm truly honored to have been selected to present at this year's NAACP Theatre Awards," states Chani.

Chani is currently writing her new book "A Girl has to Look Good! A Teens beauty, fashion and lifestyle Guide." Her new book will be filled with important information. Written by a teen, for teens, it's full of information and advice that today's teens want. Illustrated throughout, this beauty and lifestyle guide will feature chapters on beauty, fashion, lifestyle, self-esteem, fitness and diet. Chantel, the United States Youth Ambassador on HIV/AIDS, continues to reach her peers through her acting, music and writing.

The 19th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards is celebrating the organization's 100th Year Anniversary and will honor a full slate of honorees including Audra McDonald (Tony Award-Winner/Grammy Award-Winner) for Trailblazer Award, Tichina Arnold (CW's "Everybody Hates Chris") for the Spirit Award, Ruben Santiago-Hudson (ABC's "Castle") for Lifetime Achievement, and Sheldon Epps (Director of UPN's "Girlfriends") for the Community Service Award. This year's award show will also include musical performances by Grammy-Nominated artist, Ledisi.

About Chantel "Chani" Christie: Chani is a 16 year old United States youth ambassador for HIV/AIDS awareness, as well as the 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Excellence in Hip-Hop Award-Winner, and star of her new hit reality web series titled "Chani's Story," an original web series about her life. The teen pop sensation has a passion to inspire and encourage youth across the world to follow their dreams.

ABOUT NAACP: Founded on February 12, 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, and monitor equal opportunity in the public and private sectors. The NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch is committed to the promotion of theatre in Southern California and to providing a viable program for performers and supporters of this art form. For more information on the NAACP, please visit

For More Information:

Research: Are the Brains of Reckless Teens More Mature Than Those of Their Prudent Peers?

By Robert Epstein and Jennifer Ong
Source: Scientific American

SENSATION SEEKING: Teens are notorious for risky behavior and poor judgment.

Thrill seeking and poor judgment go hand in hand when it comes to teenagers—an inevitable part of human development determined by properties of a growing but immature brain. Right? Not so fast. A study being published tomorrow turns that thinking upside down: The brains of teens who behave dangerously are more like adult brains than are those of their more cautious peers.

Psychologists have long believed that the brain's judgment-control systems develop more slowly than emotion-governing systems, not maturing until people are in their mid-20s. Hence, teens end up taking far more risks than adults do. Evidence supporting this idea comes from studies looking at functional and structural properties of gray matter, the important part of the brain that contains the neurons that relay brain signals.

At least two observations undermine this theory, however. First, American-style teen turmoil is absent in more than 100 cultures around the world, suggesting that such mayhem is not biologically inevitable. Second, the brain itself changes in response to experiences, raising the question of whether adolescent brain characteristics are the cause of teen tumult or rather the result of lifestyle and experiences. Because brain research is virtually always correlational in design, determining whether brain properties are causes or effects is impossible.

Now neuroscientists Gregory S. Berns, Sara Moore and Monica Capra of Emory University suggest that teen risk-taking is associated not with an immature brain but with a mature, adultlike brain—exactly the opposite of conventional wisdom.

Risk and white matter

The researchers assessed 91 teens from ages 12 to 18 in two ways: First, teens completed the Adolescent Risk-Taking Questionnaire (ARQ), designed to measure their engagement in dangerous behaviors such as drinking, smoking, taking drugs, and having unprotected sex. Subjects were also screened for actual drug use, which was predicted well by test scores. Second, a technology known as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to assess the development of white matter in the frontal cortex of teens' brains. White matter consists of myelin, a fatty substance that coats the long axons, which carry brain signals; its main function is to increase the efficiency of neural signaling. Between childhood and adolescence, it grows in volume and becomes better organized, improving our ability to think and function.

According to Berns, DTI technology takes advantage of the fact that water molecules tend to move along myelin pathways. In an immature brain, water throughout the brain diffuses in a roughly spherical, cloudlike pattern, but as the brain matures and myelin "tracts" form and grow around axons, water starts to move along those tracts in patterns that the imaging technique picks up as lines radiating throughout the brain.

If the existing theory about the teen brain is correct, then the higher the ARQ score, the less developed the white matter should be—but that is not what the Berns team discovered. "It was surprising," Berns says. "I assumed we'd find that risk-taking would be associated with an immature brain." In fact, he found the opposite—a strong positive correlation between engagement in dangerous behaviors and the increased myelination typical of mature brains. In other words, young people who engage in dangerous behaviors generally have a more adultlike brain than their conservative peers.

Against conventional wisdom

As for the conventional thinking about the teen brain, according to Berns, "after reviewing all of the neurodevelopment stuff, I couldn't really find any link between brain development and adolescent risk-taking. Nobody denies that the brain develops or that teens take risks, but how the two got intertwined is beyond me." Nevertheless, the accepted view of the teen brain is so powerful, Berns says, that his paper faced a lengthy and tumultuous review process. It appears in Wednesday's PLoS ONE.

If valid, the study has important implications for interpreting risk-taking in teens. It suggests that the brains of many teens who behave dangerously are maturing early: Reckless behavior might in fact be a sign of adultness. Some adults do risky things (speeding, drinking, having unprotected sex) quite commonly without causing great alarm. Automatically considering such behaviors to be more objectionable just because someone is young runs into what the researchers call in their paper "a conundrum of defining risk (or dangerousness) based not on the objective attributes of the activity but on the person engaging in them."

Room for skepticism

Berns also acknowledges that the new study says nothing about causation, just like the gray matter studies. "Could someone whose brain develops earlier start to engage in adult activities earlier?" That is one possibility, he says, but it is also possible that "engaging in adult activities makes the brain mature faster," he says.

Not everyone thinks the new study will overturn thinking about the teenage brain. Developmental psychologist Laurence Steinberg of Temple University says he has been aware of the Berns research for several years and that it is flawed. "There are findings from other studies that in some respects contradict these findings," Steinberg says. "For instance, it's been shown that individuals with more developed white matter tracts are less oriented toward immediate rewards and less susceptible to peer pressure”—meaning they are probably less prone to risk-taking.

Michael S. Gazzaniga of the University of California, Santa Barbara, one of the pioneers in modern neuroscience, sees the Berns study more positively. The large number of subjects makes the results hard to ignore, he says, and they need to be taken seriously. Says Gazzaniga: "So much for the much touted model that the tumultuous teenage brain is that way because it is not fully developed. Back to the drawing board again."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nick Jonas for President in 2040?

Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers answers questions from National Press Club President Donna Leinwand.

By Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers

Pop superstar Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers hinted that he wouldn't mind spending a lot more time in Washington: "I always had this dream that I would become president one day," he said to a chorus of giggles coming from the dozens of tween girls who came to see him speak at the National Press Club today, "2040 to be exact." And who could blame him? The 16-year-old has gotten a pretty fabulous tour of Washington thus far. First, over inauguration, the Jonas Brothers were invited to play a private acoustic set at the White House for Sasha and Malia Obama and friends. Then, Nick Jonas was invited in June to testify before Congress on type 1 diabetes alongside actress Mary Tyler Moore, a longtime advocate for people with juvenile diabetes. "I was a little nervous when I spoke," he admitted. "But it was great to see that it went over well." He returned today as one of the youngest speakers ever to talk from the Press Club podium and again described what it's like to live with type 1 diabetes to the mostly young crowd. While diabetes was the main topic, he revealed other things, too, which got some shrieks of glee from the packed audience: He's single, he would date a fan, and while meeting President Obama was "an honor," he'd rather have dinner with fellow musician Elvis Costello.

EVENTS: Make A Mark Tween Empowerment Event Announces Jellypop Shoes and Plum Denim as Sponsors

  • Motivational speaker Jennifer Curtet headlines as feature speaker
  • October 10 event will host workshops on skin care, the active lifestyle, and arts and crafts

PASADENA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Make A Mark, an event designed to educate and empower tween girls on healthy body image and self-esteem, announces Jellypop Shoes and Plum Denim as sponsors and Jennifer Curtet as the event’s motivational speaker. Make A Mark kicks off on October 10 in Pasadena, inviting girls between the ages of 9–14 and their mothers to participate in an afternoon of entertainment and learning.

An authority in communication and leadership, speaker and author Jennifer Curtet will inspire tweens’ hearts and minds to rise up and lead their best lives.


Activities at the event will include:

  • Motivational speaker Jennifer Curtet;
  • Workshops on health, skin care, nutrition and active lifestyles;
  • Arts and crafts workshops, with a floral arrangement class from Fleuretica;
  • A panel discussion and workshop to help mothers build positive relationships with their daughters (a significant part of the campaign emphasizes the mother’s role);
  • A fashion show presented by Plum Denim and Jellypop Shoes; and
  • An array of exhibitor booths.

“I’m excited for the support of our Los Angeles area sponsors who are helping to bring tweens and their mothers together in a fun and educational atmosphere,” said Kelley Lee Gin, Make A Mark organizer. “Our sponsors will be able to interact with the girls, sharing the latest trends with them.”


October 10, 2009, 10:30am–3pm


Pasadena Convention Center

300 E. Green St., Pasadena, CA 91101

MORE INFO:,, 626-893-1054


Tickets are $20/person and will include small bites and beverages, swag bag, and an opportunity to win one of many raffle prizes. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at

A percentage of proceeds will benefit Pajama Program and Hearts 4 Africa.

More details to be announced as more guests are confirmed.


For those interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Kelley Lee Gin,, 626.893.1054

About Make A Mark

Make A Mark is a campaign that strives to educate tween girls between the ages of 9–14 about body image, self-esteem, and inner strength. Focusing on helping mothers build positive relationships with their daughters, the campaign also encourages mothers to be more aware of their influence as role models.

Behind Make A Mark is a team of women who strive to instill positive values of self-worth in the girls of today, the women of tomorrow. Dedicated to inspire girls to believe in the power of just being themselves, Make A Mark’s purpose is to bring tween girls together in a safe and fun environment where they can begin the process of self-discovery. The campaign encourages girls to dream big and live large—to carve their own path to success, no matter where they come from and what they want to achieve.


Make A Mark
Sheila Montemayor, 832-287-7635

Monday, August 24, 2009

MTV to Remake E4 Hit Teen Drama Skins for the US Audience

Leigh Holmwood;

Viacom-owned cable network will draft in teenagers to write series that will be relocated from Bristol to Baltimore
Cast members of Skins on set in Bristol. The US remake will be set in Baltimore.
Photograph: Richard Saker

Cast members of Skins on set in Bristol. The US remake will be set in Baltimore. Photograph: Richard Saker

US cable network MTV is to create an American version of hit E4 teen drama Skins and has promised to "preserve the authenticity" of the UK version, which included graphic scenes of drug taking, drinking, swearing and casual sex.

Viacom-owned MTV landed the rights to develop the drama – which regularly pulled in more than 1 million viewers during its three series on Channel 4's digital channel E4 – "after intense competition" over two years, according to the US broadcaster.

In a bid to maintain the original production's successful model of bringing in new young writers, MTV will also draft in teenagers to write and star in the series, which will be set in Baltimore, Maryland.

The UK version, which features the exploits of a group of young people in Bristol, has already aired in the US on cable channel BBC America. A fourth series is currently in production.

MTV, previously known for its music shows, has been moving into other areas of programming for some time, with series such as The Hills. The network's schedule also includes another former Channel 4 face, T4 presenter Alexa Chung, who currently fronts MTV's It's On with Alexa Chung.

Bryan Elsley, who co-created the original British version of Skins with his son Jamie Brittain, will write and executive produce the US version, which will be made by his independent production company, Stormdog, and Company Pictures, which is owned by All3Media. Company Pictures founders and managing directors Charlie Pattinson and George Faber will also executive produce the US version.

"Skins is one of those rare shows that cuts through to its core audience with unusually authentic stories due to the unique writing and casting process that Bryan pioneered," said Liz Gateley, senior vice president of MTV series development.

"Having personally pursued the UK project for almost two years, I am beyond thrilled to bring it to MTV in the US. We intend to preserve the authenticity of the British version and are excited to collaborate with the original team to develop stories that will speak to American youth."

Pattinson added: "We are delighted to be making Skins for the US and in particular, for MTV who have embraced the show and its ambitions and unusual production process. We are looking forward to talking to teenagers across the US and making a show that reflects their lives in every aspect."

The deal was brokered by Greg Lipstone, of management agency ICM, which represents Company Pictures and All3Media.

Spas Stepping Up Pampering For Teens

By Eileen Ogintz (CNN)

Ahh! Ohh!

I'm face down on a massage table looking through glass at fish swimming in the lagoon, as the Polynesian masseuse caresses me with bags of seaweed and creams made from ground pearls and deep-sea water.

Polynesian music plays softly. Waves lap the shore. Can it get any better than this? We're at the Thalasso Spa at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort, which I'm told is the largest spa in French Polynesia, the first in the world to use water drawn from deep in the Pacific, which they tell us is extremely pure and rich in minerals. It's just an average mom-and-daughter afternoon together, or once in a lifetime, in this case.

My friend, Pam Roza, her daughter, Orlee, my daughter, Mel, and their two friends, Margaret Bylsma and Lane Washburn -- all newly minted high school grads -- have taken an afternoon off from sailing on our chartered catamaran to enjoy a little spa action, followed by a real shower. The two dads have declined our invitation to join us and are snoozing by the pool at the resort.

As if the massage isn't enough, we luxuriate in a walk-through pool that pummels our legs with jets of water. There are also treatments with deep-sea water showers, baths with deep-sea water and hydro massages, marine scrubs and mud treatments ... too bad we only have an afternoon!

Of course, my mom never took me to a spa -- I don't think she's ever been to one herself -- but I've taken my wilderness-loving daughters to spas from the Caribbean to Colorado, from Arizona to Austria from the time they were young teens, and like others their age, they are perfectly at home getting facials and massages (as long as mom's paying). It turns out they've got plenty of company.

According to the International Spa Association, 4 million teens have been to a spa. More than half of the hotel resort spas with memberships in ISA now have teen programs, and new ones that include younger children are opening all the time. An increasing number of resorts have dedicated spaces just for kids and teens -- from Scoops Kid Spas at the 10 Great Wolf Lodges around the country (choose your own sherbet scrub) to the Wild Hare Youth Spa at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort in Texas where you can create your own lip gloss.

The teen spa area at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, designed with Pottery Barn PBTeen, offers young spa goers a chance to play video games or watch DVDs while they wait for their special acne facials, sports massages or skincare lessons.

The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, meanwhile, advertises treatments suitable for several "generations" of your family, while the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort in Costa Rica has a family spa bungalow that a family can use for an entire day, scheduling alternating treatments with dips in the river.

"Teens we see are experienced spa-goers," said Pat Liberto, manager at the Cloister Spa at Sea Island, Georgia. "The younger children who have older spa-goer siblings want to try something too."

(You'll find junior spa programs in cities (Trump International Hotel in Chicago), at ski resorts (The Sundance Resort in Utah), in Florida (Hawks Cay Island Resort) and Hawaii (Grand Hyatt Kauai), in Williamsburg, Virginia (Kingsmill Resort and Spa), where birthday party spa camps are all the rage and even on Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise ships.

And the Four Seasons Bora Bora, which is making a huge effort to attract the family market, is developing an entire teen program to add to their special treatments for honeymooning couples.

This pampering won't necessarily break the bank either, since many "treatments," especially for younger kids, are substantially discounted. The spa treatments at Orlando's Nick Hotel start at just $6. Solace Spa at Boyne Mountain Resort in Michigan now hosts Family Nights with mini treatments. Admission is just $5 and includes yoga, steam, sauna and mini-treatments for as little as $10.

"At the age of six, it's not often you get to be a princess for an evening and receive royal treatments," said Danielle Donovan, from Petoskey, Michigan, who took her daughter Libby. "The special mommy/daughter time made Family Spa Night one of a kind!"

"It's an affordable luxury," added Carmen Gillett, an attorney from Sarasota, Florida, who takes her 9-year-old daughter, Rosie, to Longboat Key Club and Resort where kids' treatments might include a junior escape massage (strawberry kiwi body icing?). "She loves it," Gillett says, adding, it's a great way to share an experience and have a good time yourself!

While the International Spa Association reports that spa goers are opting for fewer and shorter treatments, youth spa programs continue to flourish -- likely because of the reduced fees. For that reason, said Anne Monnier, who took her daughter Hanna to the spa at Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort, "It was well worth the price. It made her feel like royalty. And just having some special mother/daughter time (no husband or son allowed) was special in itself."

For tweens and teens, spa treatments aren't just about indulgence either; they can have a lasting impact. "The teen facial made a difference. It also helps teach a young girl about taking care of her skin and about taking pride in her appearance," said Laura Patterson, who has been taking her daughter, Sara, to the Homestead's Kid Spa for years.

Carmen Gillett jokes she didn't even know what a spa was until she was in college. "I'm giving her everything I didn't have," she laughs.

Serenity Shower, anyone?

Friday, August 21, 2009

PacSun, Zumiez Swing To 2Q Losses On Lower Sales

Teen retailers Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. (PSUN) and Zumiez Inc. (ZUMZ) each swung to a fiscal second-quarter loss, as the companies reported lower same-store sales and falling margins.

PacSun's shares were down 4.8% to $3.80 in after-hours trading, as the company projected a fiscal third-quarter loss on a another steep drop in same-store sales. Zumiez's stock was flat at $12.28. Both stocks have been improving in recent months.

Both retailers have been hurt by lower traffic at shopping malls, as well as their exposure to the struggling West Coast economy, although analysts have noted some improvement in the region.

PacSun, a teen beachwear retailer, posted a loss of $14.2 million, or 22 cents a share, compared with a year-ago profit of $2.8 million, or 4 cents a share. Last month, the company revised its projection, seeing a wider loss of 22 cents to 24 cents a share.

"Clearly, we have a lot of work to do to stem our decline in sales and ultimately return to profitability," said Chief Executive Gary Schoenfeld. PacSun named Schoenfeld to the top role in June after the former CEO, Sally Frame Kasaks, stepped down. The move followed calls for her resignation from a shareholder group. She also stepped down as chairman and was replaced by Peter Starrett.

Revenue decreased 22% to $242.8 million for the quarter ended Aug. 1 as same-store sales slumped 24%. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected $239.7 million.

Gross margin slumped to 23.8% from 30.5%.

Looking ahead, PacSun sees a fiscal third-quarter per-share loss of 16 cents to 23 cents on a same-store sales decline of in the high-teens to low twenties. That outlook included an asset impairment charge of about $10 million.

Fellow retailer Zumiez reported a loss of $3.1 million, or 10 cents a share, compared with a year-ago profit of $2.7 million, or 9 cents a share. The latest results included a 3-cent charge related to a lawsuit settlement.

For the quarter ended Aug. 1, net sales fell 7.7% to $85.2 million as same-store sales declined 18.8%.

In May, Zumiez projected a loss of 14 cents to 17 cents on revenue of $78 million to $82 million, below analysts' estimates at the time. Analysts have lowered their view since then, but still see slightly better results, projecting a loss of 12 cents on revenue of $84 million.

Gross margin fell to 28.9% from 32.6%.

Looking ahead, the company projected per-share earnings of 5 cents to 7 cents a share on a same-store sales decline in the mid-to-low teen percentage range. Wall Street expected 7 cents.

"As the second quarter progressed, we experienced improved sales trends throughout the majority of our store base," said Chief Executive Rick Brooks.

The retailer of sports-related fashion has been struggling with a steep decline in same-store sales for the past year as mall traffic slumped amid the recession. Zumiez's higher-priced branded product hasn't been selling well to bargain-minded shoppers, but its effort to provide more value for the back-to-school season is bearing some fruit, according to Caris & Co. The firm noted men's apparel, which makes up a larger share of the company's total business, was the biggest driver in same-store sales, but women's apparel is still weak.

-By John Kell, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2480;

Thursday, August 20, 2009

EA and Claire's Team Up to Promote CHARM GIRLS CLUB Video Games for Girls

LOS ANGELES, Aug 20, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) ----

The Play Label of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) today announced a promotion with retail store chain, Claire's, to cross-promote EA's upcoming series of video games for girls: CHARM GIRLS CLUB(TM). Claire's branding will be featured in CHARM GIRLS CLUB My Fashion Mall, one of the four games in the EA series which will be released this October, and on the CHARM GIRLS CLUB Web site as part of the outreach to attract the game's target consumer: tween girls, ages 8-12, many of whom shop Claire's stores for fashion accessories, jewelry, cosmetics and more.

"We're delighted to partner with Claire's," said Steve Seabolt, Vice President of Global Brand Development for EA. "The company is smart, global, forward-thinking, and have their fingers on the pulse of the tween girl audience. It's a relationship we believe will benefit Claire's customers, who we hope will also become fans of CHARM GIRLS CLUB."

In CHARM GIRLS CLUB My Fashion Mall, players help manage a mall and take it from drab to fab tackling wacky mall mishaps along the way. In the virtual mall, players will not only find a Claire's storefront and mentions throughout the game, they will participate in mini-game challenges at the store and add Claire's-branded charms to their virtual jewelry box. The title is one of three CHARM GIRLS CLUB games available for the Nintendo DS(TM), a popular gaming system among tween girls. EA will also promote Claire's on the CHARM GIRLS CLUB Web site at

As part of the promotion, girls will be able to play the CHARM GIRLS CLUB "Accessorize It" mini-game on the Claire's Web site in the Fun & Games section. The mini-game will give visitors insight into the kind of fun, fashionable and interactive gaming experiences they can expect from EA's CHARM GIRLS CLUB titles. Claire's will also promote the CHARM GIRLS CLUB games by featuring the brand on its global Web sites.

CHARM GIRLS CLUB is a new, original series of games for tween girls that are all about fun, friendship and collecting charms. In the games, girls are immersed into the exciting world of the Charm Girls where they will complete challenges that are fresh, fun and relevant to their world, collecting sparkly virtual charms along the way. EA will release four CHARM GIRLS CLUB titles in October including CHARM GIRLS CLUB Pajama Party for the Wii(TM), and three titles for the Nintendo DS: CHARM GIRLS CLUB My Fashion Mall, CHARM GIRLS CLUB My Perfect Prom and CHARM GIRLS CLUB My Fashion Show.

For more information on CHARM GIRLS CLUB, visit or to download artwork, visit For more information on Claire's, visit

About Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), headquartered in Redwood City, California, is a leading global interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, the Company develops, publishes, and distributes interactive software worldwide for video game systems, personal computers, wireless devices and the Internet. Electronic Arts markets its products under four brand names: EA(TM), EA SPORTS(TM), EA Mobile (TM) and POGO(TM). In fiscal 2009, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $4.2 billion and had 31 titles that sold more than one million copies. EA's homepage and online game site is More information about EA's products and full text of press releases can be found on the Internet at

EA, EA SPORTS, EA Mobile, POGO and Charm Girls Club are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Wii and Nintendo DS are trademarks of Nintendo.

About Claire's

Claire's Stores, Inc. is a leading specialty retailer of accessories and costume jewelry for girls and young women through its two store concepts: Claire's and ICING. In total, more than 2,500 Claire's and ICING stores can be found throughout the world. For more product related information, visit the Claire's website at

SOURCE: Electronic Arts Inc.

Katie Carrico, 310-754-7190
Senior Publicist
Brooke Bauguess, 310-754-7312
Senior PR Manager
Copyright Business Wire 2009

Boo Boo Graces Eclipse With A Built-In Tween Fan Base

By Kimberly Sherman; Source: The Examiner

Digging further into the background of newly cast Boo Boo Stewart as the highly anticipated role of Seth Clearwater reveals a bubblegum star with quite an established fan base of tweens, making him a perfect presentation for the role of Seth. Without the stigma of a trademarked name, but with a bit of a following, the casting of Boo Boo as Seth sounds like a perfect fit.

Aside from random roles in a variety of flicks, the fresh-faced teen has a blossoming musical career and has modeled, most recently, for Kohl’s; his multi-faceted background mirrors that of his multi-talented Eclipse cast members.

Born Nils Allen Stewart, Jr., the 15 year old actor/ martial artist resembles a slightly younger Taylor Lautner, having been named the 2002 and 2003 Martial Arts World Champion and inducted into the 2004 Martial Arts Junior Hall of Fame.

Boo Boo’s fan base may stem from his stint as a Radio Disney T-Squad Member. About Boo Boo and the T-Squad from Disney’s site:

Boo Boo Stewart
Hometown: Shadow Hills, CA
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Food: McDonalds
Hobbies: Karate, Dance, Singing, Guitar, Stunts, Gymnastics
Pets: Pookie
Actor: Mel Gibson
Actress: Angelina Jolie
Favorite Ice Cream: Mint and Chip
Favorite Movie: Lord of the Rings 1,2 and 3
Favorite Sport: Karate

The T Squad
The T Squad is a vocal and dance hip hop/pop- "super group" -comprised of four uniquely talented young performers that individually have mad skills in dance, electric vocals, and an unbelievable presence.

They also share a unifying desire to fight lies and expose dishonesty. Pledging to stick together through thick and thin, the T Squad has set out to show how friendship and trust are the keys to a better world and best of all, they do it all through phat beats and tight moves.

Team BooBoo has a great compilation of amateur videos and fodder, including a forum, to interest teen fans. Here’s a complete list of official Boo Boo sites for your teen to delve into:

"Twilight" Hits The Road With Fan Convention Tour

By Gregg Kilday

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Tween vampire lovers could soon be descending on a city near you.

Summit Entertainment, producer of the "Twilight" movies, has partnered with Creation Entertainment to produce a series of "Twilight" fan conventions, which will take place at various North American locations over the next three years.

Beginning August 28 at the Hilton Parsippany Hotel in Parsippany, N.J., weekend conventions will be held in such cities as Chicago; Miami; Seattle; Nashville; San Francisco; Atlanta; Los Angeles; Charlotte, N.C.; Minneapolis; Phoenix; Boston; Toronto; and Portland, Ore.

The conventions will feature onstage appearances by "Twilight" celebrities, screenings of exclusive footage, panel discussions, parties, musical performances, costume and trivia competitions, auctions, autographing, merchandising and photo opportunities. "Twilight" fan sites, including and, will take part with special presentations at stops on the convention tour.

"The Twilight Saga: New Moon," the second movie in the franchise adapted from Stephenie Meyer's best-selling books, opens theatrically in North America on November 20.

Detailed information about the conventions is available at

You Think You Know Teens!? Parents Don't!

Compiled by: Dr. Neil Bernstein; The Examiner

Surveys have a way of shaking our commonly held beliefs. Check out these poll results when parents and teens are asked about the same issues.

• Fifty percent of teens who attend parties say alcohol, drugs, or both are available but eighty percent of parents believe their teens attend substance free parties.

Source: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

• Eighty five percent of parents report talking to their teens about sex and relationships but only forty one percent of teens feel they can talk to their parents.

Source: NBC News/ People Magazine poll

• Parents consistently underestimate how much time their kids spend on social networks and how often they engage in risky behavior.

Source: Common Sense Media

MTV Films Episode of 'Teen Cribs' at Palm City Home

Field producer Rebecca Rasmussen, right, talks with McKenna Knipe, center, and her friends, sitting from left, Ella Callahan, Katie Convertini and Zach Cramer, while setting up a shot in McKenna's bedroom during filming of an episode of MTV "Teen Cribs" at the Palm City home. Field coordinator Casey Pierce is on the left.

Photo by Alex Boerner

Field producer Rebecca Rasmussen, right, talks with McKenna Knipe, center, and her friends, sitting from left, Ella Callahan, Katie Convertini and Zach Cramer, while setting up a shot in McKenna's bedroom during filming of an episode of MTV "Teen Cribs" at the Palm City home. Field coordinator Casey Pierce is on the left.

By Mike Readling, Source: TC Palm

PALM CITY, FLA - Bobby Gomez knows a good thing when he sees it. Especially when what he sees is a castle.

Gomez, a coach at Ultimate Cheer and Dance Allstars in Port St. Lucie, has coached McKenna Knipe for the past four years. After a visit to her house in Palm City, Gomez’s mind began working overtime.

“He called me up and asked if I had ever seen ‘Teen Cribs’ on MTV,” said Knipe’s mother, Laura Crawford. “He said, ‘You’ve got to watch it,’ but I went home and forgot about it.

“He called that night and told me it was on right now and that they would take our house. I told him he was crazy. I mean, we don’t have bowling alleys and stuff like that in the house.”

What Crawford, her husband, Dean, and McKenna did have, however, was an 8,500-square-foot Tudor-style castle on 3.5 acres running alongside Bessey Creek. It is a teenager’s dream come true and it fit perfectly into MTV’s plans to continue to woo that audience.

“They said what they liked about it was it was different. It was a castle and they had never shot one of those. And there was so much for the kids to do outside. They had not ever filmed anything as expansive and kid-friendly outside,” Laura Crawford said.

“All the local kids are here and they’ll come and stay for days. We pretty much run a local laundry service and Dean is a short-order cook for breakfast.”

For two days last weekend, two film crews from the music network descended upon the Crawford castle on Southwest Winding Way. They filmed the lagoon-style pool, the five-car garage, the game room and the guest house.

When the episode airs toward the end of the year it will be the first “Teen Cribs” episode to take up the entire half hour.

McKenna, an aspiring model and actress who has two films coming out, hosted the show at her home. She led an on-camera tour, pointing out the things in the house that appeal to a teenager’s eye and the things that didn’t.

Among her favorites were the refrigerator and freezer in the kitchen, which are hidden behind a faade designed as an armoire; and the game house, which is located above the garage and features a movie theater, pool table, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.

“When I have friends come over we mostly stay in the game house,” said McKenna, who is scheduled to be in Japan from October through December for several fashion and couture shoots and, she hopes, to sign a cosmetics deal. “It’s where we spend the night. It’s like our own little house.”

While she was leading MTV cameras through the expansive house, about 45 of her friends were holed up away from the sensitive microphones, waiting for their chance to get on TV. Laura Crawford credited the “mom wranglers” who showed up to help organize the chaos for helping the day go so smoothly.

At one point — after McKenna’s entrance on a monster golf cart with mud tires — the film crew chose three friends to join in the shoot.

Ella Callahan, Zach Cramer and Katie Convertini filmed a segment in Mckenna’s room, one of three master suites.

“It was fun. But it was really weird having to see behind the scenes and how they film a show like that,” Zach said. “Other than that, having the film crew follow you around was different.

Ella said, “There was a lot of sitting around while they set up for stuff. I thought there was going to be a lot more people there. I just like this house so much. It’s so much fun.”


What it is: A 30-minute show on MTV that features houses around the nation suited to teens. Many are customized spreads with indoor treehouses, large pools, gymnasiums, golf courses, skate parks and other unusual activities.

Airs: 4-4:30 p.m. weekdays on MTV. An air date has not been set for the Crawford episode, but it is tentatively scheduled to air at the end of the year.

Other featured cribs: While most “Teen Cribs” episodes have been shot at homes owned by non-superstar families, MTV filmed “Celebrity Teen Cribs” at houses owned by Shaun White, Teddy Geiger, AJ and Aly, Bow Wow and Omarion.


Built: 1986 by local optician Brian Schmidt. The Crawfords bought the house in 2006 and took two years to renovate the inside, finally moving in to the estate in October 2008.

Dimensions: About 8,500 square feet of air-conditioned living space. Renovations turned it from a seven-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath house into a three-master-suite home with two offices, a guest house and 4 1/2 bathrooms.

Highlights: Five-car air conditioned garage, lagoon-style pool with rock waterfall and hot tub, trampoline, basketball court, game house with movie theater, pool table, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, guest house with 80-inch television, 3.5 acres frontage on Bessey Creek.

Home trivia: The house was designed to be able to host photo shoots. Ed Hayslip of Hayslip Landscaping gave the front a traditional Tudor look with manicured trees and hedges, varying degrees of green and sharp angles. The property features an Old Florida section, a tropical area with rare and unusual palm trees, and a Florida Keys-style trail through the woods that leads to a 2,000-square-foot pavilion. The grounds can be rented for weddings or other events.

The front view of the home of McKenna Knipe and her parents, Laura Knipe-Crawford and Dean W. Crawford.

Photo by Alex Boerner

The front view of the home of McKenna Knipe and her parents, Laura Knipe-Crawford and Dean W. Crawford.

Rebecca Rasmussen, field producer for MTV "Teen Cribs," talks with McKenna Knipe, daughter of Laura Knipe-Crawford and Dean W. Crawford, during taping for an episode of the show in Palm City. The premise of the show is to profile the home of a teenager that is a fun hangout for other teens. For this episode, McKenna was giving a guided tour through the home and the other features of the property.

Photo by Alex Boerner

Rebecca Rasmussen, field producer for MTV "Teen Cribs," talks with McKenna Knipe, daughter of Laura Knipe-Crawford and Dean W. Crawford, during taping for an episode of the show in Palm City. The premise of the show is to profile the home of a teenager that is a fun hangout for other teens. For this episode, McKenna was giving a guided tour through the home and the other features of the property.