"Why is Martha's picture in the paper?" asked Anna, our nine-year old. It was March, and high time my wife and I had a talk with our kids about Martha Stewart's trial. Isabelle, seven years old, became very upset when we explained the guilty verdict: "But Martha's nice. She's a good woman!"
Such a reaction was perhaps to be expected from a child nursed on little other regular TV programming than Martha's daily show and some children's videos. I had even arguedin this journal several years agothat Martha offered a positive role model for my kids. At least she demonstrated more get-go than the sort of female leads found in the popular VeggieTales videos my daughters enjoyed. But what did my suggested role model roll me into? A discussion on insider-trading and obstruction of justice with a first-grader. Should we have stuck to our rule of no TVaside from, say, value-rich Veggie fare?
Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when I read an article in Christianity Today (May 2004) profiling Phil Vischer, co-founder and former CEO of Big Idea Productions, the company behind VeggieTales. I had heard of the company's difficulties but didn't realize how far it had fallen.
Coinciding with weakening video sales, rapid expansion, and the middling success of its feature film Jonah, Big Idea got slapped with a lawsuit for changing distributors. Bankruptcy and then buyout by Classic Media soon followed in late 2003. During the crisis, Vischer's health declined, he lost his fortune, and suffered an understandable identity crisis.
Over Sunday dinner, I told my wife about Big Idea's troubles. Anna interrupted for explanations: "What's a breach of contract? Is it like, I sell my videos at one store and then switch to another without ...1
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