LOS ANGELES – Following an undercover investigation begun a year ago by his office, City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced the filing of criminal charges to stop alleged pay-to-play casting schemes in the entertainment industry. "As the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles continues to attract thousands of aspiring performers from across the world. Unfortunately, pay-to-play casting schemes often exploit their dreams, purely for profit," said Feuer. "My office will continue to crack down on those who would take advantage of performers desperate for work." The five complaints charge a total of 28 defendants, including 18 casting directors, associates or assistants who were guest “instructors” at the 5 workshop businesses.
Casting Workshop businesses and casting persons named in the criminal prosecutions include:
The Actors Link – two co-owners each charged with three counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use contracts conforming to the law, and four casting persons (including the co-owner) each charged with charging for auditions.
The Actor’s Key – the LLC, three operating members each charged with three counts of charging for auditions. Three casting persons each charged with one count of charging for auditions.
Actors Alley – the owner charged with two counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use contracts. Two casting persons each charged with one count of charging for auditions.
Casting Network – the LLC and its operating member charged with three counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use a contract. Three casting persons each charged with one count of charging for auditions.
Studio Productions – the LLC and its operating member charged with two counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use a contract. Six casting persons each charged with with one count of charging for auditions.
"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," said City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, author of California’s Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009. "No performer should be victimized by talent representatives who cut legal corners just to make a buck."
The Talent Scam Prevention Act (AB319 in 2010) authored by then Assemblymember Paul Krekorian and sponsored by the City Attorney’s Office makes it a misdemeanor for talent workshops to charge for an audition or employment opportunity. The legislation came as a result of many casting workshops essentially charging actors to read in front of a casting director or their staff under the guise of providing them "educational" classes.
In January 2016, the City Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into “pay-to-play” casting workshops that had previously been the subject of numerous anonymous complaints. Between February and April 2016, a professional actor working as an undercover informant under the direction of the City Attorney’s Office attended 13 casting workshops conducted by five separate businesses. The undercover operator also attended consultations with representatives from three of the businesses as to which workshop guest would increase his chances of getting cast by an instructor.
The alleged activities at each of the individual workshops attended by the undercover informant were later verified by an independent expert witness as auditions or employment opportunities in direct violation of the Talent Scam Prevention Act.
If convicted, each could face up to one year in jail and/or a $10,000 fine plus penalty assessments for each count. Arraignment is scheduled in mid-to-late March.
All workshops in California must be for instructional purposes only, clearly stating that participation is not a guarantee of employment. In 2010, the casting industry issued the "Casting Workshop Guidelines" for casting professionals who participate at workshops, which can be found here.
Any individuals who believe they may have been victimized or wish to file a complaint should file one iwth the Consumer Protection Section, or call 213-473-6924.
Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert is prosecuting the cases.