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They’re Now Well-Schooled in the Art of TV Stardom

Morgan and Kelly Jackson are too embarrassed to tell their friends at school that they star on national television tonight.

“I look like a fool,” moaned Morgan, 11, a sports nut who attends Brentwood Science Magnet School.

“I look fat,” complained Kelly, an outgoing 15-year-old student at Hamilton High School in Los Angeles.

But in fact, the brother and sister can be proud of their television debuts on “Quest for Education,” an hourlong documentary comparing education and values in the United States and in Japan. The show premieres 10 p.m. on KCET Channel 28.

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And, their own stated views notwithstanding, the Jackson children are smart, likeable and not at all fat.

“They are a wonderful family,” said producer and director Joan Owens. Owens said she chose to film the Jacksons because of the family’s experiences in 1985 and 1986 in Japan, and because they are so articulate.

David Jackson, a UCLA geophysics professor, has followed quakes from Bulgaria to Switzerland, and taken his family with him. “It’s a bit hard on them to pull up roots,” he said. “But they are learning a lot about life.”

Says Kelly in what Owens considers a telling scene in the documentary: “They believe in smartness and stuff instead of how they look.”

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Production crews tailed Kelly from breakfast to bedtime for two weeks last year, chronicling cheerleading practice, her chatter about boys, and classes. They filmed Morgan at a baseball game and studying with his mother, Kathleen. The Jacksons’ home in Pacific Palisades--normally an open house for foreign students--became a movie set. “We had to eat dinner six times once for the cameras,” recalled Kathleen Jackson.

The children attended an American-run school in Tokyo. They have mixed emotions about their experiences there. Kelly hated the way the Japanese stared at the family of gaijin, or outsiders, but was impressed by the schools. “America is really lagging behind in terms of studying,” she said.

Morgan was happy after he found a soccer team in Tokyo, but considered the price of food a “total rip-off.” What’s worse, he said, “we couldn’t read the writing there.” Their parents left in love with the country, which is one reason they decided to do the documentary. “Americans are afraid of Japan because they don’t understand the culture,” Kathleen said. “We hope this helps create more understanding.”

The Beverly Hills Hadassah Tikvah Group will honor Barbara Yaroslavsky for her community involvement with numerous civic, religious and health organizations in the Los Angeles area. Yaroslavsky, the wife of Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, will be honored at the group’s annual luncheon and fashion show April 21 at the Doubletree Hotel in Marina del Rey.

George Roberts and Jeffrey Barbakow will be honored for their contributions to California at the USC School of Business Administration’s 27th Business Awards Luncheon on Thursday at the Los Angeles Biltmore.

Roberts, chairman of the board at Teledyne Inc., will receive the 1990 Award for Business Excellence. He serves on the USC School of Business Administration CEO board of advisers and is a director of the World Affairs Council. He lives in Santa Monica.

Barbakow, who received his MBA at USC in 1968, is co-chairman of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Communications Co. and a member of its executive committee. He will receive the 1990 Alumni Award for Business Excellence. He lives in Los Angeles.


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