In the movie Magnolia there is a scene where the quiz show What do kids know celebrate its 33rd year featuring young Donnie Smith. At the same time Claudia watches the programme (she actually watches her father). But at the end; officer Jim, who is in love with Claudia, meets the old Donnie Smith (a.k.a quiz kid)

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How can both old and young Donnies exist in the same moment?

  • Maybe you are refering to the annoying child fom the game that pee in his pants, It is another character.
    – DanielV
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 17:09
  • no, he is Donnie Smith which is known as the quiz kid. His father put him under so much pressure that he failed in that episode. Then his father stole the money he (donnie) won from the quiz show, as old Donnie says so.
    – icey
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 8:58

2 Answers 2


They are different children.

Stanley Spector is the quiz participant in the present (played by Jeremy Blackman).

Donnie Smith was the quiz participant in the past (played by Benjamin Niedens), who is an adult in the present (played by William H. Macy).

When the adult Donnie Smith is in the bar, the live show episode (in which Stanley Spector participates) is shown on the TV.


At the beginning of the movie, in the opening credits, I remembered a scene with Donnie as a participant in the quiz. I've found the opening credits scene on youtube

At 2:45 circa there is the scene I remembered in which is shown a young Donnie awarded with a giant check and the caption reads Quiz Kid Donnie Smith 1968. As you stated above, the quiz is being celebrated for its long run and they are showing on tv some of the most significant bits of the show.

Is this the scene you were referring to?

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