Excerpt from "My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir Bar

Excerpt from "My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir Bar

Postby admin » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:15 am

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"My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir Bar-Lev

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[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] The very first light that was shone on Marla was by my photographer for my paper.

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I wrote the first article.

[Amir Bar-Lev] So, how did you get personally involved with the story of Marla?

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[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] Well, the way that I understand it, was a local painter, whose name is Anthony Brunelli, saw some of Marla's paintings at a friend's house, and he was just starting his new art gallery.

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You know, originally, we thought he'd be showing a lot of work like his own, which is this hyperrealist work, this photorealism. So it was, kind of, just one guy's taste that started the whole ball rolling. Anthony contacted me and said, "I have a story for the paper. I'm going to have a show for a little girl, at my gallery." I said, "But why is that a story for me? 'Cause I'm not an arts reporter. I cover families and children and parenting issues." He said, "Well, it's a story for you because this is really a story about a family." So he framed it to me as a family, human-interest story about this night manager at a Frito-Lay factory who had this artist daughter, and his wife Laura is a dental assistant. They didn't know a lot about art, so this was all very left field for them.

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Around this time, I met Laura. I saw her as a person who was going to be in a story I was going to write. Like a character almost.

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But I also saw her as a mom, like myself, because we had children the same age.

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I said, "Are you sure you want to do this?

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Because this could be something that affects your life and your family. And it might not be all positive.

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So maybe you don't want me to write this article. And you can just have this show here and go on with your lives as normal.

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Needless to say, I wrote the story, and a week later, The New York Times picked up the story.

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And it was like somebody had ignited a match under a fuse, and it started to burn. I could see how negative things could come out of it. And none of them were on the surface, but they were lurking.
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Re: Excerpt from "My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir

Postby admin » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:19 am

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[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] I remember the first time I met Laura, she said, "My daughter is not a child prodigy." She hated that word, "prodigy." Because she could sense, just through pure instinct, that it was a very fine line between prodigy and freak.

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There's something charming about seeing a child masquerading as an adult.

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[Shirley Temple] Oh, hello, I'm Polly Tix. Boss Flynt Eye sent me over to entertain you.

[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] Everybody likes it when a little kid dresses in grownup clothes, in their parent's outfit.

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And this is a child masquerading as an adult, through painting.

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There are very adult moments in Marla's paintings, which I think is why people like them.

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They're really big, very bold, colorful.

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They're just so grown-up and mature.
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Re: Excerpt from "My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir

Postby admin » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:23 am

[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] You know how sometimes you have a feeling, an instinctive feeling, and you don't follow it? And then sure enough, down the line, you know your instinct was right? I think that's what happened with Laura. I think that her inner voice, her inner mother, was saying, "Let's don't go down this road." And she got, kind of, talked into it by everybody around her.

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She was one voice in the chorus, and I think she got out-sung. The way I saw the Marla story was, it was one of those stories that big media latches onto, and there's quite a number of them now, because they have to fill time and sell advertisement. It's like a hungry monster. It can't get fed enough.

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So a story like this comes along, this is lunch. This is what they wait for. What happens with a story like this is that, at a certain point, because of the nature of media, the story itself has to change to maintain the interest of the public.

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I think that's what Laura was afraid of.
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Re: Excerpt from "My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir

Postby admin » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:26 am

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February 23, 2005

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[Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes] We begin tonight with something of a mystery. It involves a 4-year-old girl who lives in Binghamton, New York. Her name is Marla Olmstead, and in most ways she is just like any child her age. She goes to pre-school, plays with dolls, and she loves to draw and paint. But Marla's paintings end up in homes across the country.

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She has already earned more than $300,000, which, her parents say, has all been put into a college fund.

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With some 200 buyers on her waiting list, Marla Olmstead stands to make millions. So, just who is the little girl behind ...
Anthony Brunelli began hosting shows for Marla. So what do we have here?

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[Anthony Brunelli, Gallery Owner] You have a genius.

[Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes] A genius?

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[Anthony Brunelli, Gallery Owner] Yeah.

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[Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes] Is there any other explanation?

Ellen Winner is a psychologist who has studied gifted children. We showed her several of Marla's works.

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[Ellen Winner, Psychologist] It's absolutely beautiful. You could slip it into the Museum of Modern Art and absolutely get away with it.

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[Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes] Are you serious?

[Ellen Winner, Psychologist] I think you could.

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[Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes] People would say it belongs here. This is the work of a gifted artist.

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[Mark Olmstead, Marla's father] It's unbelievable.

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[Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes] We showed her more than 50 minutes of videotape shot by us, and by Marla's parents. Winner's enthusiasm immediately turned to concern ...

[Ellen Winner, Psychologist] This is eye opening to me to see her actually painting.

[Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes] ... and suspicion. Eye-opening in what way?

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[Ellen Winner, Psychologist] Because she's not doing anything that a normal child wouldn't do.

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She's just, kind of, slowly pushing the paint around.

[Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes] After our interview, the Olmsteads agreed to let us place a concealed camera where Marla paints, so she wouldn't be distracted by its presence. It took Marla about five hours of painting ...

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spread over the course of a month to come to this point.

[Mark Olmstead, Marla's father] It's not bad.

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[Ellen Winner, Psychologist] I saw no evidence that she was a child prodigy in painting. I saw a normal, charming, adorable child, painting the way pre-school children paint. Except that she had a coach who kept her going.

[Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes] That coach is Marla's father, who's often present when Marla paints. He can be heard on this tape, directing her, sometimes sternly.

[Mark Olmstead, Marla's father, on TV] Paint the red! Paint the red! You're driving me crazy. Paint the red!

[Mark Olmstead, Marla's father] "You're driving me crazy. Paint the red. If you paint, honey, like you were ...

[Marla] Please!

[Mark Olmstead, Marla's father, on TV] This is not the way it should be.

[Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes] Her parents told us this painting was a struggle for their daughter, saying she seemed stuck.

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Still, during the month or so that the hidden camera was in their home, they claim Marla was able to finish these four other paintings off-camera, with no problems at all.

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Ellen Winner also believes the painting captured on our tape is less polished than some of Marla's previous works. How do you explain that difference?

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[Ellen Winner, Psychologist] Well, I can only speculate. I don't see Marla as having made, or at least completed, the more polished-looking paintings, because they look like a different painter. Either somebody else painted them, start to finish ...

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or somebody else doctored them up. Or Marla just miraculously paints in a completely different way ...

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than we see on her home video.

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[Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes] Marla is having her first West Coast gallery opening later this week ...

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and it will include this painting, captured on our hidden camera, which has already been sold for $9,000.

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[60 Minutes: King of Queens, Next]
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Re: Excerpt from "My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir

Postby admin » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:26 am

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[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] I was pretty shocked.

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It was really ugly journalism. To think that Charlie Rose would spend a hour on network television undoing someone who is 4 years old, and her family.

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You've got nothing better to put on a primetime news show? What kind of thing is this for a family to go through? They really were in over their heads.

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 And I'm sure they must feel a little nervous, now, about you. You know? I mean, it's kind of similar.

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I don't think anybody really knows what you're going to do with the story.
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Re: Excerpt from "My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir

Postby admin » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:28 am

[Prodigy Schmodigy]

[Newsman] Is 4-year-old painter, Maria Olmstead, a prodigy?

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[Newswoman] Some question the authenticity of the artwork.

[Parents insist child painted costly artwork]

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[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] It was all over. That was it. That was all she wrote.

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All these papers, around the world, around the country, carried the story.

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It was like, the father is the painter.
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Re: Excerpt from "My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir

Postby admin » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:29 am

[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] Laura told me she felt like they just had a black mark on them around town, now.

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She said she really felt like they were almost demonized.

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And that the community bought it.

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[Subject: Shame on you.
A special little place
Congratulations!
Please Read!
spam Summary 11/18/2005
BE BLESSED & REPLY]

[Ins@yahoo.jp] "Dear Parents, congratulations! You really know how to do business. Ripping off rich, pseudo-intellectuals is pure genius. Simply fabulous scam. Without prejudice, An Observer!

[joey32@gmail.com] You are a lying piece of crap. And even though you are fooling the right people, you will have to answer to God one day. Shame on you.

[leah@bblavh.com ] There will be a special little place in hell for Marla's parents. I guess it's ok for some of the scammed money to go the kid's college fund, but put some aside for therapy when she gets old enough to see what they've done with her. The basement wasn't the problem. The horse shit story is the problem.

[Tim and Michelle Belham, tmbelham@comcast.net] It was quite obvious to me that you doctored up the other artwork. Sad that you are using your daughter like this. If I were the people who bought her past artwork I would demand my money back.

[__] Please, for the love of God, post a running tally of negative emails you receive like mine. I do love your quote on 60 Minutes, it sounded so French! "Oh my daughter is a true artist, ah, ah, ah, she cannot paint for you bourgeois peons under the glare of a hidden camera. We cannot understand this, ah, ah, ah, this has never happened before to her, you are ruining her creativity. Get a clue. Bob.

[Les Blenchorn, LesBlenchorn@msn.com] As an art critic I have what I feel is some very valuable advice for you. Don't turn your daughter into a fraud! Art collectors do not spend tens of thousands of dollars to be defrauded. Your glee in making money will soon evaporate under the weight of many many lawsuits that are already in the works. I have heard that the Binghamton Police Department and the FBI are already starting investigations into your daughter's "art".

[__] I think that there should be an investigation. And I also think that the father looks very strange. He looked mentally disturbed.

[ljones@rogers.com] It may not be too late to back out of your predicament, but from what I saw on 60 Minutes you are a very stupid guy (yes you Dad the real artist) and you will probably stick to your guns until you are so far behind bars that they have to pump you oxygen. Well Marla can visit you in prison and paint you getting serviced by Leon, your 300 lb. "boyfriend."

[__] Marla's parents apparently gave her a helping hand in the creation and finishing of the paintings. I really don't care if they do or not, it's just sad that they compete with their own 4-year-old daughter if that's the case. Gee mom and dad, if its abstract, why are you messing with it, and telling her what and where to paint? Or maybe they just couldn't cut it in the art scene themselves, so they needed a gimmick? Who knows.

[__] Looks like Marla doesn't really do the paintings. She is a victim of greedy, fraudulent parents. Such a sweet kid. Makes me sick.

[__] Wow. Basically Marla's parents created them all and she is a big fake. People will do anything for money but anyone that would use their own child like this should be put in jail. I hope they return all the money the paintings have sold for.

[__] The sad thing here is the only one who is being hurt here is Marla while her parents cash in and capture the glory of attention ... shame on them. I hope someone in the media see my posts and view the tapings again ... SHAME!

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Re: Excerpt from "My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir

Postby admin » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:32 am

[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] Right before 60 Minutes, I talked to Anthony on the phone.

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And he said, "I'm thinking of running for Mayor of Binghamton. Some people have approached me, and I think the arts are going to be what saves the city."

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After 60 Minutes, he was thinking about leaving town.
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Re: Excerpt from "My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir

Postby admin » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:34 am

[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] From the very beginning, you were kind of a wild card. because you weren't from a network. You weren't going to be putting them on the evening news. You were a guy who just wanted to make his own film.

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What attracted you to it?

[Amir Bar-Lev] I saw it as a film about modern art. 60 Minutes took me completely by surprise. I had totally accepted that Marla was doing the paintings.

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[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] They trust you. Obviously they do, or they wouldn't be letting you do it at this point.

[Amir Bar-Lev] They're expecting that this film is going to exonerate them.

[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] Redemption factor.

[Amir Bar-Lev] Yeah, and 60 Minutes raised some doubts in my mind. And I haven't been 100% honest about having these doubts. So now, yeah, they think that this film is going to clear their names.

[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] They want you to film a painting from start to finish.

[Amir Bar-Lev] Yeah.

[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] Of course they do. And put it on TV.

[Amir Bar-Lev] And I'm ready to do it. I need that for my film, too.
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Re: Excerpt from "My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir

Postby admin » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:36 am

[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] They could have just rolled over and died, you know? But, I mean, really, they had to respond. The story got taken away from them by 60 Minutes. So now this is about owning the story back.

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They had to make a DVD from start to finish of a painting, because Charlie Rose was saying, "You couldn't."

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[Statement Regarding Questions Brought by 60 Minutes: Marla is the sole creator of her artwork. As a shy child, she is reluctant to paint for the camera. Despite having extensive footage of Marla painting, 60 Minutes asked the Olmsteads for a "start-to-finish" video of Marla working on a piece. A stationary hidden camera was installed in the home, but logistics dictated that it be set up in the basement, an area where Marla had become unaccustomed to working. Marla disliked painting in the basement and several times during the process, asked to paint in another part of the house.]
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