More than two dozen people associated with five talent casting workshop businesses are facing charges for allegedly collecting illegal pay-to-play fees from clients seeking auditions for acting roles, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Thursday.
The alleged schemes were infiltrated by an undercover actor working with Feuer’s office, and the defendants are now facing misdemeanor charges, potential jail time and fines, he said.
“We all know that Hollywood is the entertainment capital of the world, and it beckons aspiring performers from everywhere to come to pursue their dreams. Unfortunately, too often, pay-to-play casting workshops seek to exploit these dreams just for profit,” Feuer said.
Three LLCs, or limited liability corporations, are charged, along with 25 individuals, including 18 casting directors, associates or assistants who were guest “instructors,” Feuer said.
The defendants are linked to five businesses, according to the city attorney:
— The Actor’s Link: Two co-owners each are charged with three counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use contracts conforming to the law. Four casting persons, including a co-owner, are also each charged with charging for auditions.
— The Actor’s Key: The LLC and three operating members are each charged with three counts of charging for auditions. Three casting persons are also each charged with one count of charging for auditions.
— Actors’ Alley: The owner is charged with two counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use contracts. Two casting persons are also each charged with one count of charging for auditions.
— The Casting Network: The LLC and its operating member are charged with three counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use a contract. Three casting persons are each charged with one count of charging for auditions.
— Your Studio Productions: The LLC and its operating member are each charged with two counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use a contract. Six casting persons are each charged with one count of charging for auditions.
The owners and employees are all accused of violating the Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009. The law made it illegal to charge for the right to audition, and Feuer alleges that all of the businesses were found to be doing so under the guise of running “casting workshops.”
Feuer said the information collected during the undercover operation was later verified by an independent expert.
City News Service contacted each business for comment. The Actor’s Link does not appear to have a working phone number, and no one returned a call at The Actor’s Key or The Casting Network.
At the Actors’ Alley, operator and defendant Bradley Derrick Sachs hung up the phone without commenting.
At Your Studio Productions, operator and defendant Garret Camilleri said, “I have not heard this information yet so I am going to have to speak with my lawyer. I am hearing this for the first time. No comment right now.”
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief counsel and CEO of SAG-AFTRA, which represents more than 160,000 actors, journalists and performers, said the problem of pay-to-play casting is significant and his office receives complaints on a daily basis.
“On behalf of the members of SAG-AFTRA and the leadership of SAG-AFTRA, we are extraordinary pleased with the action the city attorney’s office led by Mike Feuer has taken to address this problem,” he said.
The Talent Scam Prevention Act was written by current City Councilman Paul Krekorian when he was serving in the state Legislature.
“I’m pleased that the city attorney is continuing to use my legislation to protect performers and their families from bad actors in the entertainment industry,” Krekorian said. “No performer should be victimized by talent representatives who cut legal corners just to make a buck.”
–City News Service
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