An Orange County judge agreed today to appoint a guardian to review the finances of so-called “Octomom” Nadya Suleman's children to see if they need long-term assistance to manage money generated by photos and a planned reality television show.
The group A Minor Consideration, which advocates on behalf of child actors, filed a lawsuit earlier this year asking that a guardian be appointed to ensure that the financial interests of Suleman's 14 children -- including her now-6-month-old octuplets -- are protected.
Attorneys for Suleman argued vehemently against the appointment of a guardian, and said they would immediately appeal the judge's decision.
Asked outside court for her response to the decision, Suleman said, “I'm indifferent. Totally indifferent.”
Suleman, 33, signed agreements for each of her 14 children, ages 6 months to 8 years, to earn $250 a day to star in a reality television show, according to the Times of London Web site.
She reached the reality show deal with European production company Eyeworks, which also produced “Breaking Bonaduce” and “The Biggest Loser.” The show is to begin taping Sept. 1, according to Times Online.
The contracts say Suleman's children will collectively earn $125,000 for 36 days of shooting the first year of production, $75,000 for 21 days the second year and $50,000 for 14 days the third year. Any extra shooting days will be compensated at the same rate, the Web site reported.
The contracts, filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, guarantee the children will collectively earn about $250,000 over three years, which averages out to less than $6,000 a year per child.
The contract also calls for 15 percent of the gross compensation to be deposited by Eyeworks into a trust account, as required by California law, according to Times Online. The money can't be touched until the children turn 18 or become emancipated minors.
A Minor Consideration president Paul Petersen, a former child actor who appeared on “The Mickey Mouse Club” before playing young Jeff Stone on the Donna Reed show, said he has kept an eye on the developments surrounding the Suleman since her octuplets were born Jan. 26. He said he wanted to ensure that the children's rights are protected under laws governing child entertainers.
Suleman's attorneys filed papers to have the case dismissed. Suleman's attorney, Jeffery Czech, has said the case is “not in the best interests of the Suleman children.”
“Once again, persons who do not have any knowledge of the Suleman children are interfering into their lives in an apparent effort to gain publicity and financial reward for themselves,” he said.
Petersen's attorney, Gloria Allred, said that Suleman, as the mother of the octuplets and their six siblings, has entered into contracts and received payments for still photos and videos. She said that while the lawsuit seeks to intervene on behalf of the eight babies, she is also concerned for Suleman's other six children.