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Spoilt Rotten

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Reporter: Liz Hayes

Producers: Nick Greenaway

They're very rich and very naughty. They have more money than sense and they're totally out of control.

They make Paris, Britney, Lindsay and their mob look like law-abiding little angels.

We might call them spoilt brats, but psychologists have come up with a more high-falutin' description.

They're victims of affluenza - which apparently can strike any kid who's given too much, too soon.

And naturally, where there's a syndrome - there's a solution.

No, it's not a good old-fashioned clip over the ear, it's a college course to teach rich kids how to handle their money.

For a hefty fee, of course.

Full transcript:

INTRODUCTION LIZ HAYES: They're very rich and very naughty. They have more money than sense and they're totally out of control. They make Paris, Britney, Lindsay and their mob look like law-abiding little angels. We might call them spoilt brats, but psychologists have come up with a more highfalutin' description. They're victims of 'affluenza' which apparently can strike any kid who is given too much, too soon. And naturally, where there's a syndrome - there's a solution. No, it's not a good old-fashioned clip over the ear, it's a college course to teach rich kids how to handle their money. For a hefty fee, of course.

STORY LIZ HAYES: Rich and out of control. Hollywood's brat pack - spoilt and spoiling for a fight. Randy Spelling, son of super producer Aaron, and Sean Stewart, son of rock star Rod, are over-indulged and over-exposed. Did you fall into the 'brat' department do you think?

SEAN STEWART: What do you mean 'the brat department'?

LIZ HAYES: Were you ever a brat?

SEAN STEWART: Describe the word 'brat'.

LIZ HAYES: Oh, a badly-behaved boy.

SEAN STEWART: Badly behaved? Like I need a spanking like "bad baby, bad baby, bad?" Yeah I can behave sometimes... probably bad yes.

LIZ HAYES: 27-year-old Sean Stewart would like to be as rich and famous as his dad. But so far the only thing he is famous for is failure. Having been a high-school drop-out, jailbird for assault and a recovered heroin addict. He is the unwitting poster boy for what psychologists have labelled 'affluenza'. The affliction of too much too soon. The perception is that kids who come from money have it easy. Is that true?

SEAN STEWART: They don't, no it's not.

LIZ HAYES: Why not?

SEAN STEWART: Because we didn't choose this life this life chose us, you know. Our lives are not as easy as you think it is.

LIZ HAYES: But it sure is comfortable. Sean lives on his father's luxurious multimillion-dollar estate nestled in a gated community in the Hollywood Hills. It's around here that affluenza bites hardest. When was the last time you had a regular, paying job?

SEAN STEWART: Um, like what kind of paying job? like a 9-to-5?

LIZ HAYES: Yeah.

SEAN STEWART: I haven't had one in years.

LIZ HAYES: Wealth on its own is one thing to deal with, but throw in a dash of fame and you have the recipe for disaster. And nowhere is that lethal combination more evident than here in Hollywood. This town has a long list of famous and wealthy kids who are constantly losing the plot. Paris... Lindsay... Britney... all famous examples of over-indulged and irresponsible wealthy kids who are now paying the price. Colourful proof that it's not just poverty that can lead to a delinquent life, in fact rates of depression and drug use are higher among rich kids.

JAMIE JOHNSON: When you have money and you're growing up and, you know, you have a tendency to be rebellious, you can do it more fully and misbehave in ways that people without money couldn't misbehave. I mean, you can afford alcohol, you can afford drugs. You have this cash which can actually get you into more trouble.

LIZ HAYES: Jamie Johnson knows the symptoms of affluenza better than most.

FROM DOCUMENTARY: At midnight, I am going to inherit more money than most people can earn or spend in a lifetime.

LIZ HAYES: An heir to the Johnson and Johnson fortune, he inherited millions when he turned 21. But then Jamie shocked his A-list mates by questioning the impact of this wealth.

FROM DOCUMENTARY: Money is a thing that you don't talk about. Because it's in bad taste.

LIZ HAYES: And he did it on camera in his documentary 'Born Rich'.

JAMIE JOHNSON: There were so many examples of people who had been in the same situation that I was in and they hadn't lived interesting lives, they hadn't lived fulfilling lives, they had lived miserable lives in many cases, and sometimes even tragic lives. And I thought, "what a strange paradox, "you have everything going for you "and somehow you manage to live a miserable life." It didn't make any sense to me.

LIZ HAYES: Did you find out why so many people with money are so unhappy?

JAMIE JOHNSON: I, no, I couldn't answer that question succinctly.

LIZ HAYES: Jamie's film featured the sons and daughters of some of America's wealthiest families.

FROM DOCUMENTARY: We could go, like, downtown, and go and buy a Ferrari or something.

LIZ HAYES: And the rich are getting richer. An estimated $15 trillion - yes TRILLION dollars - will be inherited by these kids over the next 50 years. And Jamie's friends are living proof that money doesn't make for good manners.

FROM DOCUMENTARY: An encounter that rubs you the wrong way. Whatever pisses you off. And I'm up at boarding school, and this kid is from some shit town in Conneticut you know, I don't know, and I can say, "F--- you, I'm from New York "I can buy your family. P--- off."

LIZ HAYES: In short it seems money messes with your mind?

JAMIE JOHNSON: It can, and it seems to for a lot of kids that have money. I think that they get confused and think that the best way to go through life is just doing as little as possible and living off their parents' wealth.

LIZ HAYES: It's not a bad spot to be raised, though.

TYRONE ROTHSCHILD: Oh yeah, it's awesome.

PETER ROTHSCHILD: It's certainly not the ghetto. LIZ HAYES: It's not the ghetto! Tyrone Rothschild is another affluenza victim.

TYRONE ROTHSCHILD: A row of 10 houses that go that way...

LIZ HAYES: His family made its fortune in oil and real estate. but dad Peter was shocked to discover his only son was clueless about money. squandering an inheritance from his grandfather on surfing trips, cars and parties.

TYRONE ROTHSCHILD: All kinds of mischievousness.

PETER ROTHSCHILD: He is kind of a wild and crazy guy and he invested in things he thought was a good idea at the time and it didn't pan out for him. And I don't know exactly how much is left, if any...

LIZ HAYES: Well, he uses the phrase 'blew it'.

PETER ROTHSCHILD: Blew it. Yeah, well, that means there's not much left.

LIZ HAYES: When you were surfing, and losing your inheritance I imagine, were you aware of what was going on?

TYRONE ROTHSCHILD: I think I gained so much life experience from all the travelling that I did that it was still worth the money that I spent doing it. You know, some things I thought later were kind of stupid of me but the trips I took and, like, all the experiences I had were well worth it.

LIZ HAYES: So Tyrone was sent back to school. As outrageous as it seems, teams of corporate experts like lawyer Doug Freeman are teaching rich kids how to be rich.

DOUG FREEMAN: And if you want to know how to become a $10-million individual get married and start with 20. These kids have often been raised by nannies and au pairs and others. When you're talking about the really ultra-high wealth families they have been insulated from risk, they have been insulated from responsibility and they grow up to reflect that.

LIZ HAYES: They are quite dysfunctional?

DOUG FREEMAN: Often.

LIZ HAYES: Which is extraordinary isn't it?

DOUG FREEMAN: Among the most dysfunctional families I know are the children of fortune five hundred families that we've worked with.

TEACHER: You have assets, and you have liabilities.

LIZ HAYES: Here at the University of California, students typically come from families worth anywhere between $20 million to $1 billion.

TEACHER: The goal in life is to fill this box, and have this one empty.

LIZ HAYES: It's a crash course in managing your fortune, and even shows you how to protect yourself from a gold-digger with a water-tight pre nup.

CAPTIONED TO HERE - VT'D Babe, you know I love you to death, and there's nothing in the world that would ever come between my love for you, but you know that my dad is a real hard-arse and he is down my throat about making sure that I get you to sign a pre nup.

DOUG FREEMAN: His father shoe-horned him into this class.

LIZ HAYES: His father spoke to you?

DOUG FREEMAN: Yes.

LIZ HAYES: And said what?

DOUG FREEMAN: He'll never show up.

LIZ HAYES: But why did he want his son to be here?

DOUG FREEMAN: He says, "Because my son has no clue what he's doing."

LIZ HAYES: And now?

DOUG FREEMAN: I think he is increasingly confident that Tyrone is gonna get his act together.

LIZ HAYES: And you?

DOUG FREEMAN: There's no doubt in my mind that he will. But you must understand that 26-year-olds today have the emotional maturity in many cases of about a 17-year-old.

LIZ HAYES: And speaking of people slow to grow up...

SEAN STEWART: To women, fine wine, fast cars...

LIZ HAYES: Sean Stewart is busy partying while he waits for his next gig in the entertainment industry. The last, a reality television program called 'Sons of Hollywood' was a flop. Sean and his co-stars Randy Spelling and David Weintraub were so obnoxious the audience turned off in droves.

LIZ HAYES: Did you think you came out of it well? Do you think it showed you in a good light?

SEAN STEWART: Um... not really.

LIZ HAYES: Why not?

SEAN STEWART: There were some inappropriate things I did on the show, just f--- around and stuff.

SEAN'S MOTHER: Sometimes I need, like, a hug.

SEAN STEWART: You need to get laid. You need a boyfriend.

SEAN'S MOTHER: Sean, that is rude!

SEAN STEWART: No. You need a boyfriend. You need to get laid.

SEAN'S MOTHER: Stop it. You can't talk to your mother that way.

SEAN STEWART: Yes, I can.

DAVID WEINTRAUB: I will be the first one to admit that yes, OK, we all are a little bit spoilt. OK I will admit that first and foremost. Yes, granted, we've gotten nice cars, nice houses, nice things.

INTERCOM: Can I help you?

DAVID WEINTRAUB: It's Dave Weintraub for Randy.

LIZ HAYES: Do you think there is such a thing as affluenza?

DAVID WEINTRAUB: 100% there is affluenza and I think that we deal with it on a daily basis.

LIZ HAYES: And have you seen the downside to that?

DAVID WEINTRAUB: I've seen the up, the down, the good, the bad and the ugly.

LIZ HAYES: Of course youth and wealth don't always mean trouble.

VOICE FROM THE CROWD: Paris, how are you? We missed you!

LIZ HAYES: But the brat-like antics of Paris Hilton and her friends have come to epitomise rich kids gone wrong. Fortunate lives spoilt by affluenza.

DOUG FREEMAN: Teenagers are growing up with... those are their models, those are the role models, those are their heroes, we need better heroes.

LIZ HAYES: And I imagine the parents of your students are fearful of that happening to them.

DOUG FREEMAN: They are all struggling with trying to do this right. It isn't that they're... nobody raises their kid, "I want you to be an idiot, "I want you to get into trouble, I want you to have drugs, "I want you to drop out of school," Nobody raises their children that way.

LIZ HAYES: But what role has money played in all of that?

DOUG FREEMAN: It made it easy.

LIZ HAYES: People would look at you and say your life is perfect.

SEAN STEWART: My life is just like everybody else's. I have feelings, I have dreams, I have self esteem, I'm insecure. Just because I come from money doesn't make these prob... ..make these problems in my life perfect, no. My life isn't perfect.

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