A Los Angeles production company is holding a casting call across the US for children who claim to have memories of a past life, or children who act strange like they are reincarnated or believe that they used to be someone else.
The cast call is for a new reality series "Ghost Inside My Child," by Joke Productions. The reality show is scheduled to air on the Bio Channel later in the year, following recent airing of a pilot episode a few months ago.
The Huffington Post reports that the pilot episode featured three children who appeared to have recovered memories of a past life.
The producers of the show, a married couple, Joke Fincioen and Biagio Messina, say they are looking for other families with children who "have inexplicable memories and experiences of another life."
According to the Daily Mail, the casting call, specifically for children aged 2-10, prefereably American, requests "true stories that need to be shared." The couple say they are looking for children with strong evidence of what appears authentic recollections of previous life memories demonstrable through drawings, pictures, or video footage.
Fincioen told The Huffington Post: "We were pregnant at the time when the idea first came to us. We thought what would we do if this happened with our daughter? It really was a phenomenon. We wanted to tell these parents' stories without trying to prove or disprove them."
Messina, however, admits that the idea of a child with apparent "past life memories" raises vexing questions. The Huffington Post reports he said: "I don't know what I'd do if my daughter turned out to be Grandma Messina. What do you do? Ignore it? Explore it? Hope it goes away?"
This is not the first reality show the couple have produced. They produced "Beauty And The Geek" and "VH1 Scream Queens," The Huffington Post reports. The two say they are deeply fascinated with the phenomenon of young children recalling details about a "past life."
Messina told The Huffington Post: "These kids are going through something and we're trying to figure it out. A kid will say something about their life and we research it to see if it pans out."
An interesting case from the pilot episode was that of James Leininger, 6, who reportedly started having nightmares of his own death under circumstances that finally brought his family to believe he is the re-incarnation of a man James Huston, a US fighter pilot who died fighting in Iwo Jima, Japan, in World War II.
According to ABC News, the 21-year-old Navy fighter pilot was on a mission over the Pacific when he was shot down by Japanese artillery.
James Leininger's parents, Andrea and Bruce, said they are "probably the people least likely to have a scenario like this pop up in their lives," but they became convinced that their son had a previous life as James Huston.
According to the boy's parents he loved playing with planes since he was an infant. At the age of two, he began having nightmares about planes.
His mother Andrea, said: "I'd wake him up and he'd be screaming." When she asked him what he was dreaming about he would say "Airplane crash on fire, little man can't get out."
After doubts that the child might have picked up the images in his dreams from TV shows, he began showing precocious knowledge about war planes at age 3, though, according to his parents, he hadn't been seeing World War II documentaries. ABC News reports:
But as time went by, Andrea began to wonder what to believe. In one video of James at age 3, he goes over a plane as if he's doing a preflight check.
Another time, Andrea said, she bought him a toy plane, and pointed out what appeared to be a bomb on its underside. She says James corrected her, and told her it was a drop tank. "I'd never heard of a drop tank," she said. "I didn't know what a drop tank was."
Incredibly, Leininger could tell the name of the pilot's ship, Natoma Bay, and could also give details of the names of his shipmates. ABC News reports:
Over time, James' parents say he revealed extraordinary details about the life of a former fighter pilot... he told them his plane had been hit by the Japanese and crashed. Andrea says James told his father he flew a Corsair, and then told her, "They used to get flat tires all the time."
Andrea says James also told his father the name of the boat he took off from — Natoma — and the name of someone he flew with — Jack Larson.
After some research, Bruce discovered both the Natoma and Jack Larson were real. The Natoma Bay was a small aircraft carrier in the Pacific. And Larson is living in Arkansas.
"It was like, holy mackerel," Bruce said. "You could have poured my brains out of my ears. I just couldn't believe it.
Fincioen and Messsina, as part of the show, arranged a meeting between Leininger and a woman in her 90s who was a member of Huston's family. The woman reportedly "felt a connection" with the child.
Fincioen and Messsina are following up the unnerving case with similar cases of other children with "past life" memories. They say the show will feature only those who pass a rigorous screening process to eliminate cases of fabrication and kids who have obviously been coached by adults.
Messina said: "We need to make sure the parents are of sound mind and can handle TV."
The couple say they would also require that purported recollections of past lives be verifiable from existing documentation. Messina said: "It would be difficult to find out if the kid was an Egyptian pharaoh."
Parapsychology researcher Loyd Auerbach, who is assisting the producers with relevant research, said there are two ways to tell a child with authentic memories of a past life.
He said: "Children like these seem to exhibit adult-like behavior and use vocabulary and speech patterns beyond their years. Also, look for statements like, 'I used to be...'"
However, Auerbach acknowledges that a skeptic could argue that a young child with "past life memories" picked up information subconsciously from one or several sources and then processed them as "past life memories." He said: "Sometimes, kids pick up things from watching TV. Also, if a child claims to be a dead grandparent, it's possible they heard people talking about the dead relative or saw pictures."
Meanwhile, a skeptic organization, the James Randi Foundation, that works to refute paranormal claims in the media, has criticized the show. President of the organization D.J. Grothe, said there was no compelling evidence for reincarnation.
He told The Huffington Post: "Unfortunately, people use anecdote and stories as proof of these supernatural claims, and this is not dissimilar to ghost stories, or accounts of supposedly accurate psychic readings people will tell."
He also criticized the plan to bring people in contact with kids who are supposedly the reincarnation of their departed loved ones. He said: "The people who lost a loved one have to re-experience the loss, are told outlandish claims about their loved one being alive again and stuck in the body of a child somewhere. I think this is a crassest manipulation of belief and of the fear of death merely for the sake of reality TV ratings."
The Huffington Post reports that Messina, however, says they plan to provide counseling to families of participants. He acknowledged that the show would attract criticism, saying: "You can always come up with rational explanations. But these are stories that inspire questions on both sides."
The producers urge people interested in participating to send their stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (323) 410-0271.