Kerrigan finds 'impassioned speeches unpersuasive'

A key state labor official has blasted operators of disputed actor workshops, calling their conduct at a recent public hearing “deplorable.”

Thomas Kerrigan, regional attorney with the Dept. of Labor’s standards enforcement division, leveled the accusations in a letter to R. Brian Dixon, attorney for the Los Angeles Actors Workshop Coalition.

Kerrigan noted that Tuesday’s hearing was dominated by workshop supporters who filled virtually all speaker slots at the event, which was organized to hear comment on regulators’ assertion that “pay-to-audition” workshops are in violation of state law.

Kerrigan, who announced February’s “cease-and-desist” orders against the operators, declared Wednesday he was unimpressed with their case.

“The result of these efforts was that after the representatives of SAG and AFTRA had expressed their full support for the position this agency has taken with respect to these workshops, we were subjected to an almost unrelieved string of actors and casting directors talking on behalf of your client,” Kerrigan said. “I must say, speaking for myself, I found their impassioned speeches unpersuasive.”

Operators and casting directors contended the workshops offer value in demystifying the audition process and networking.

Labor commissioner Arthur Lujan said his office was exploring the possibility of guidelines that would allow the workshops to remain open while still complying with state law, but gave no timetable.

“The most deplorable feature of this meeting, in my judgment, was the poor behavior of your client’s adherents,” said Kerrigan, noting supporters of enforcement were booed. “These tactics, as much as they may have heartened your clients, do not reflect well on your profession.”

In response, Dixon released a letter to Lujan complaining about Kerrigan’s conduct and noting the workshops were not consulted before the cease-and-desist orders were issued. “We look for a specific assurance that Mr. Kerrigan’s comments are not those of the department and the guidelines for workshops will be fairly and impartially considered by you,” Dixon said.

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