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|Directed by||Jack Cannon|
|Presented by||Jonathan Karsh|
|Starring||See Participants below|
|Composer(s)||Jeff Lippencott and Mark T. Williams, Ah2 Music|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Tom Forman|
|Production location(s)||Bonanza City, New Mexico|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original release||September 19 –|
December 12, 2007
Kid Nation is an American reality television show hosted by Jonathan Karsh that premiered on the CBS network on September 19, 2007 created by Tom Forman Productions and Endemol USA and aired on Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET. The program was originally scheduled to air in the summer of 2007.
In the show, the children try to create a functioning society in the town, including setting up a government system with minimal adult help and supervision.
The show, featuring 40 children aged 8 to 15, was filmed on location at the Bonanza Creek Movie Ranch, a privately owned town built on the ruins of Bonanza City, New Mexico, eight miles south of Santa Fe,[dead link] with production beginning on April 1, 2007.[dead link]
The show stresses the difficulty in creating a viable society. While each child received $5,000 (equivalent to $6,000 in 2018) for their involvement, Gold Stars valued at $20,000 (equivalent to $24,000 in 2018) and $50,000 (equivalent to $60,000 in 2018) were awarded to select outstanding participants as decided by the elected Town Council.
Speaking before an audience of television reviewers, producer Tom Forman acknowledged that Kid Nation would inevitably share some elements with William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, which depicted planewrecked children without adult supervision. But adults were present off-camera during the Kid Nation production, including cameramen, producers, a medic, and a child psychologist, although all interacted with the children as little as possible. Participants also missed a month of school, but Forman suggested that such real-world tasks as preparing a group breakfast, doing physical chores like fetching water, and making group decisions constituted an educational experience in its own right. Foreman said that all participants were cleared by a team of psychologists, any child could choose to go home at any time, and some did.
|No.||Episode Title||Days||Airdate||Upper-Class||Merchants||Cooks||Laborers||Town Bonus||Gold Star||Exits|
|1||"I'm Trying to be a Leader Here!"||1–4||September 19||Red||Blue||Yellow||Green||Seven Outhouses||Sophia||Jimmy|
|2||"To Kill or Not to Kill"||5–7||September 26||Blue||Red||Yellow||Green||None (Task Failed)||Michael||None|
|3||"Deal with It!"||8–10||October 3||Yellow||Blue||Green||Red||Microwave & Cocoa||Mallory||None|
|4||"Bless Us and Keep Us Safe"||11–13||October 10||Blue||Red||Yellow||Green||Religious Books||Morgan||Cody|
|5||"Viva La Revolución!"||14–16||October 17||Yellow||Green||Red||Blue||Oral Hygiene Products||Greg||None|
|6||"Bonanza Is Disgusting"||17–19||October 24||Red||Green||Yellow||Blue||Fruits & Vegetables||DK||None|
|7||"The Root of All Evil"||20–22||October 31||Blue||Yellow||Green||Red||New Clothes & Free Laundry||Nathan||None|
|8||"Starved for Entertainment"||23–25||November 7||Green||Blue||Red||Yellow||None (Task Failed)||Kennedy||None|
|9||"Not Even Close to Fair"||26–28||November 14||Blue||Yellow||Green||Red||None (Task Failed)||Blaine||Randi|
|10||"Let Me Talk!"||29–31||November 21||Blue||Green||Yellow||Red||Letters From Home||Laurel||None|
|11||"I Just Like the Recess Part"||32–34||November 28||Green||Blue||Yellow||Red||Town Arcade||Hunter||None|
|12||"Where's Bonanza, Dude?"||35–37||December 5||Green||Red||Blue||Yellow||Hot Air Balloon Ride||Alex||None|
|13||"We've All Decided to Go Mad!"||38–40||December 12||No District Assignments||Three Gold Stars worth $50,000
(equivalent to $60,000 in 2018)
|None (final episode)|
- ^A These gold stars were worth $50,000 (equivalent to $60,000 in 2018) and were awarded at the final town hall meeting.
The participants of Kid Nation consist of 40 kids, whose ages range from 8 to 15. The following table lists each child's district color (including change if applicable), age at the onset of the show, home state, the terms they held in Town Council, the day they received a gold star, when they left Bonanza City and any applicable notes.
|1||2||Name||Age||State||Town Council||Gold Star||Exit||Note(s)|
|B||Y||Blaine||14||Florida||Days 29–40||Day 28||Changed districts in episode 9|
|R||R||DK||14||Illinois||Days 29–40||Day 19|
|R||B||Emilie||9||Nevada||Changed districts in episode 9|
|B||B||Greg||15||Nevada||Days 29–40||Day 16||Oldest participant|
|G||N/A||Jimmy||8||New Hampshire||Day 4||Youngest participant|
|G||G||Laurel||12||Massachusetts||Day 1–29||Day 31|
|B||B||Mallory||8||Indiana||Day 10||9th birthday during episode 3|
|G||G||Michael||14||Washington||Days 29–40||Day 7||15th birthday during episode 11|
|B||R||Nathan||11||Illinois||Day 22||Changed districts in episode 9|
|Y||N/A||Randi||11||Nevada||Day 28||Turns 12 (somewhere between episode 5 and 9)|
|Appointed town sheriff in episode 11|
|Y||Y||Taylor||10||Georgia||Days 1–16||11th birthday during episode 7|
|Y||Y||Zach||10||Florida||Days 16–29||Day 39|
- ^1 Original district
- ^2 Final district color or black, with N/A (Not Applicable) if participant left the show
- ^3 These gold stars worth $50,000 (equivalent to $60,000 in 2018) and were awarded at the final town hall meeting.
Ahead of its premiere, the show proved to be the most controversial of the upcoming fall 2007 season, even though the only actual footage seen was a four-minute promo running on television and the Web. In previewing the series, CBS eschewed television critics, instead holding screenings at schools in at least seven large cities. Variety columnist Brian Lowry wrote that "Kid Nation is only the latest program to use kids as fodder for fun and profit, which doesn't make the trend any less disturbing." William Coleman, a professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina, argued that the younger children, ages 8 to 12, might not be able to deal with the stress, yet could be enticed to participate by the potential fame or be pressured to do so by a parent.
Los Angeles Times reporter Maria Elena Fernandez interviewed four of the children, who told her they had worked harder than they ever had in their lives but would willingly repeat the experience. They said the most challenging aspect was getting used to being filmed constantly.
After the show's premiere, many television critics wrote negative reviews, with Los Angeles Times critic Robert Lloyd a notable exception. Reviewing the first episode, Washington Post columnist Tom Shales suggested that the show is "not so much an exercise in socialization as the indoctrination of children into a consumer culture". Shales pointed out that the kids' decisions included buying root beer at the saloon with "real money", but not hiring or being hired—as their money was "parceled out to them according to their predetermined stations in life."
By the third show, some advertisers that had shied away from Kid Nation due to its initial controversy had begun to purchase time.
Reflecting back near the end of the season, Los Angeles Times writer Maria Elena Fernandez, who had reported extensively on Kid Nation, wrote that neither the show's pre-premiere promises or controversies never quite congealed: the children were never as autonomous or self-reliant as the publicity indicated and the threatened legal investigations by the state of New Mexico never took off. As the series concluded, low ratings had cast doubt on whether CBS would renew the show. Brad Adgate, an analyst with Horizon Media, said the chances were not good unless a writers' strike, ongoing at the time of the season finale, increased demand for more reality shows.
U.S. Nielsen ratings
|No.||Episode||Viewers (millions)||Households||Adults 18–49|
|1||"I'm Trying to Be a Leader Here!"||9.07||5.8/10||3.0/9|
|2||"To Kill or Not to Kill"||7.6||4.8/8||2.8/8|
|3||"Deal With It!"||7.51||4.7/8||2.4/7|
|4||"Bless Us and Keep Us Safe"||7.01||4.3/7||2.0/6|
|5||"Viva La Revolucion!"||7.41||4.7/8||2.4/7|
|7||"The Root of All Evil"||6.89||4.4/8||2.0/7|
|8||"Starved for Entertainment"||7.16||4.5/7||2.1/6|
|9||"Not Even Close to Fair"||7.53||4.7/8||2.4/7|
|10||"Let Me Talk!"||6.88||4.3/7||2.0/6|
|11||"I Just Like the Recess Part"||7.29||4.5/7||2.1/6|
|12||"Where's Bonanza, Dude?"||7.2||4.5/7||2.2/6|
|13||"We've All Decided to Go Mad!"||7.35||4.5/7||2.2/6|
Broader legal implications
The Kid Nation production raised questions about whether reality show participants are more like subjects in a documentary or working actors. The latter are covered by union rules that govern everything from working hours to compensation. This debate over participant status could be seen in an American Federation of Television and Radio Artists investigation over whether its AFTRA National Code of Fair Practices for Network Television Broadcasting was violated. The investigation went forward even though on reality shows, the Network Code generally covers professional performers, but not the participants. Some parents on hand for the final day of filming accused the producers of feeding children lines, re-casting dialog and repeating scenes, all of which suggested that the children functioned as actors. Producer Tom Forman said that the parents were observing routine "pickups" for scenes that might have been missed because of technical difficulties.
Kid Nation also raised questions about the appropriate minimum age of participants in reality shows. The production took place before New Mexico tightened its regulations governing the number and span of hours a child actor can work. The producers had declared the set a summer camp rather than a place of employment, but that loophole has since been closed. After 11-year-old Divad Miles was burned when grease splattered onto her face while cooking a meal, her mother, Janis Miles, filed a complaint in June calling for an investigation into "abusive acts to minors and possible violations of child labor laws." The claim was investigated by Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, which found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the production company. Other investigative efforts by the state of New Mexico into the Kid Nation production were later dropped. The state's Attorney General's Office cited the lack of formal complaint or request for inquiry from any state agency. The state's Department of Workforce Solutions dropped its charge that the producers had denied inspectors access to the set and said it had no plans to investigate.
CBS defended the production's conduct as both legal and ethical, including the response to minor injuries on the set. The network characterized some early allegations as irresponsible, exaggerated or false. In late November 2007 after 10 episodes had aired, Forman accused some newspaper critics of engaging in a feeding frenzy in which they used loaded terms like "child abuse" before actually seeing the show and without interviewing anyone involved with the production.
- Boys and Girls Alone - a British show that attracted similar controversy
- Josef, Adalian (2007-05-15). "Kids to rule reality on CBS". Variety. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- Maria Elena Fernandez (2008-08-17). "Is child exploitation legal in 'Kid Nation'?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- CBS Announces Their 2008-09 Schedule. Who’s Been Cancelled?[permanent dead link][not in citation given]
- "The Founding of 'Kid Nation'". TVWeek, retrieved August 3, 2007 Archived September 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Bonanza Creek Movie Ranch official website
- "CBS addresses 'Kid Nation' controversies" by Maria Elena Fernandez, Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2007, retrieved August 22, 2007 Archived December 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Wyatt, Edward (2007-08-21). "CBS Was Warned on 'Kid Nation,' Documents Show". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 1 Recap Archived October 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 2 Recap Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 3 Recap Archived October 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 4 Recap Archived October 24, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 5 Recap Archived October 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 6 Recap Archived October 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 7 Recap Archived November 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 8 Recap Archived November 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 9 Recap Archived November 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 10 Recap Archived November 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 11 Recap Archived December 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 12 Recap Archived December 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Kid Nation on CBS CBS.com Episode 13 Recap Archived December 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- "Kid Nation – I'm Trying to be a Leader Here". Yahoo! TV. 2007-09-20. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved 2007-09-21.
- CBS Kid Nation progress report Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- "Kid Nation on CBS – Bios". Archived from the original on February 12, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- "Is CBS reality show 'Kid Nation' just child's play?" by Maria Elena Fernandez, Los Angeles Times, August 28, 2007, retrieved September 15, 2007 Archived March 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- "CBS Screens ‘Kid Nation’ at Schools" by Edward Wyatt, New York Times, September 19, 2007, retrieved September 19, 2007
- Article from Variety.com
- "'Kid Nation' Raises Controversy Ahead of Air", National Public Radio's Morning Edition, August 3, 2007
- "'Kid Nation' ratings are just OK". Archived from the original on October 19, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-14.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link), Kansas City Star, September 21, 2007, retrieved on October 13, 2007.
- "'Kid Nation': Grow Up, CBS!" Washington Post, retrieved October 24, 2007
- "'Kid Nation' Slips in Viewers but Gains in Advertisers", by Edward Wyatt, New York Times, October 8, 2007. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
- Fernandez, Maria Elena (2007-11-30). "Lost chances in 'Kid Nation'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
- Keveney, Bill (2007-12-12). "'Kid Nation' faces an uncertain future after lackluster run". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
- Poniewozik, James; Top 10 New TV Series; time.com
- 29th Annual Young Artist Awards - Nominations / Special Awards Archived July 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, September 19, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, September 26, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, October 3, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, October 10, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, October 17, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, October 24, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, October 31, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, November 7, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, November 14, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, November 21, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, November 28, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, December 5, 2007
- Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, December 12, 2007
- "'Kid Nation' puts Hollywood labor tension into sharp focus", by Maria Elena Fernandez,Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2007, retrieved August 29, 2007
- "'Kid Nation's' current reality: investigations" by Maria Elena Fernandez, Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2007, retrieved August 27, 2007
- "Children's advocates join 'Kid Nation' fray", Maria Elena Fernandez,
- Wyatt, Edward (2007-08-18). "A CBS Reality Show Draws a Claim of Possible Child Abuse". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
- Guthrie, Marisa (2007-11-24). "Tom Forman: Father of CBS' Kid Nation". Broadcasting & Cable. Archived from the original on October 6, 2012. Retrieved 2007-11-28.