L.A. City Attorney Charges Five Casting Workshops in Alleged Talent Scam

Mike Feuer
Rich Pedroncelli/AP/REX/Shutterstock

L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer announced on Thursday the filing of criminal charges against 25 people involved in five casting workshops, alleging that they charged aspiring actors for auditions in violation of state law.

The charges follow a year-long investigation, in which an undercover actor working for the City Attorney’s office attended 13 workshops given by five companies. Among those charged are 18 instructors at those workshops, including casting directors and their assistants.

“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,” Feuer said in a statement. “My office will continue to crack down on those who would take advantage of performers desperate for work.”

The defendants each face up to a year in county jail and a $10,000 fine if convicted. The charges involve five workshop companies: The Actor’s Link, The Actor’s Key, Actors Alley, The Casting Network, and Studio Productions.

Under the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act, passed in 2009, casting workshops are forbidden from charging a fee for access to auditions.

SAG-AFTRA released a statement supporting the prosecution. “Preying on the hopes and dreams of artists is one of the oldest scams in Hollywood,” said the union’s general counsel, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.

Among the defendants are casting directors and associates with extensive film and TV credits, including:

— Ty Harman, who did casting on Netflix’s “Santa Clarita Diet”
— Scott David, who worked on the CBS show “Criminal Minds”
— Becky Silverman, of “Criminal Minds,” “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” (Bravo), and “American Horror Story” (FX)
— Nancy Foy, a former 20th Century Fox casting executive
— Peter Pappas, of “Two and a Half Men” (CBS) and “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
— Rachel Rose Oginsky, of “Masters of Sex” (Showtime) and “Suits” (USA)
— Eddie Jaszek, of ABC’s “Castle” and “Agent X” (TNT)
— Miriam Hoffman, of CBS’s “The Millers”

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  1. Would that talent spent this level of income and effort on therapy and medication.

  2. JerzyGirl119 says:

    I predict plea deals. Hard to believe that the City Attorney would press charges against 5 businesses and 25 individuals unless they had some pretty powerful evidence. Frankly, as I read the law, they don’t need much evidence to prove that these CDs were being paid for providing “job opportunities.” If they do have that evidence, these casting crooks would be idiots to let it go to trial and risk fines and jail time.

  3. Too Legit says:

    I think a lot of actors on here are missing the point. If you were called in from a workshop then you paid for your audition. That’s pay to play. That is what makes it illegal. If actors were told that they wouldn’t be called in for an audition then workshops would disappear. If this isn’t stopped then CDs will continue to raise their prices of workshops and a lot of actors will waste valuable money. It also makes CDs lazy.

  4. This is disgraceful, a witch hunt. Actors don’t need to be protected from ourselves, we can make our own decisions on how we want to spend our money on our careers. We must spend money on pictures, demo reels and other marketing materials. I have been to CD workshops over the years and have always heard the disclaimer that it isn’t an audition or a guarantee of employment. I have seen young actors learn from casting directors and more seasoned actors have an opportunity to re boot their career by networking a little with CD’s who they haven’t met or haven’t seen in a while. There are hundreds of thousands of us. If you aren’t with a top agent it’s difficult to get auditions unless you network a little. And why shouldn’t the casting directors and the people running the businesses be paid for their time? They work long hours at their job i’m sure they would prefer to go home and relax. You aren’t protecting actors, you are just taking away an important opportunity that we can use if we choose to.

    • Nicole says:

      TOTAL AGREEMENT WHY NOT FOCUS ON MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES HERE

      • Nojo says:

        The crime is not paying for workshops. The crime is paying to audition. What other profession charges money for a job interview? These CDs are users who dream of being big-time producers. Their desperate greed does not give them the right to exploit desperate (and young, naive) actors. We spend enough on all those things you mention. Not only are these particular CDs selfish, they are lazy, most likely the CDs that request self-tape auditions because they’re “too busy” to see people in person. If you’re too busy and if you don’t make enough money, find another profession.

    • SED says:

      Way to promote yourself by defending CDs. The law exists for a reason. Actors are ripe for exploitation and you are first in line. They don’t do this as an act of charity. They’re taking your money and laughing all the way home for something that is supposed to be their job in the first place. Just because the market is oversaturated doesn’t justify this type of bribery and exploitation. Welcome to LA. This isn’t an opportunity this is pay to play, pay to be seen and it isn’t exactly working in your favor either.

  5. Scams says:

    Wow, this comment section is full of friends of CDs and actor hopefuls wanting to defend beloved CDs for work opportunities or hopes of getting noticed. You are paying for time in front of them hoping you will get their attention. You are paying for an interview. How many actors would want to pay for a “networking” or “education” night so they could meet with head bartenders and restaurant managers for the hopes they would remember you and hire you for your day job? Please. Stop defending your desperation, you’re fighting a battle to the bottom. There is no guarantee of a successful career in entertainment, that doesn’t mean you should cheer for exploitative practices on the hopes they will benefit you.

    • Nicole says:

      It’s not full of hopefuls it’s full of actors who want to read and meet fellow colleagues in the buisness. And why. Do u care so much. No one is making them do anything it’s a choice freedom of choice everyone has to make money. This is a joke for people who have nothing better to do with there time

      • Mickey Maxwell says:

        Yes. CDs and actors are friends and yes you are correct, every actor is a hopeful who works with CDs on every potential job. They are our co-workers and we do become friends with them. You are obviously not an actor, so why are you offering an opinion? Just like anybody who is pursuing a professional career and goes to a seminar where they can receive valuable insights from a professional (which they pay for and the professional gets paid for) who can enlighten them, or a lawyer from a successful firm who teaches a college class, these workshops are nothing more than that. Nobody expects an audition or a job. There is even a disclaimer at the beginning of each workshop that the workshop is not a job interview and is for educational/networking purposes only. In these workshops, I have learned directly from CDs, how their office operates, how they expect you to prepare for an audition, what their pet peeves are, etc. This is not taught in any school and has made me better at auditioning and booking the jobs. I have a good resume, and I have met hundreds of CDs over the years in workshops and have become good friends with a number of them. I am an adult who takes these workshops for the knowledge and insights that have made me more successful as a working actor. I believe these CDs should be compensated for driving across town and offering their valuable knowledge and insights. None of them are getting rich from their stipends and I have no regrets spending money for a class where I learn something and better myself. And the reason I say that you are not an actor and should reserve your comments, is because of your statement, “Stop defending your desperation…” An actor without desperation is an unsuccessful actor. That doesn’t mean we let people take advantage of us. Our tax dollars are being wasted on this, because of a fledgling casting director who started this vendetta because his girlfriend was in a play and no CDs came to see it. Then he realized he could get some recognition by taking up this cause. He is friends with the Deputy City Attorney, who is doing this for political recognition and hasn’t acknowledged or responded to the thousands of actors who have contacted him in defense of the workshops and these CDs, he is going after. Blocking the intimate and personal access to these CDs and the knowledge they provide in workshops is not protecting hopeful actors, its hurting us, and we didn’t ask for their help…

  6. Sunshine says:

    There are many many other industries that you pay money to go to a hiring conference or things similar where you meet scouts for that company. You talk to them show them your resume and meet them with the blatant hope that they remember you when you apply.
    Casting workshops I feel are similar in and positive to meet and build relationships. I think the sketchy part is that the money goes directly to them and not the institution that they are working for.

    • pinky T says:

      I agree with you Sunshine. There certainly seems to be some value to the experience. Or at least the potential for value. But shouldn’t they be paid for their time? Especially the independent CD’s who are self employed? I personally know several actors who have benefitted from the experience.

  7. Starlet says:

    I know this will probably raise some eyebrows to all who are inside the protected Breakdown Services cocoon, however, it has always bothered me that in the Actors Access area of the BDS actors have to PAY to submit themselves for the jobs listed. Isn’t that the same as what these workshops do? Pay to audition? It’s only a couple of bucks, but it’s still the same thing. And paying for “sides” is unfair to actors too. Most decent agents will send you the sides for free, but some do not. Just sayin’.

  8. Too Legit says:

    I use to work at a workshop place and can say they are not good for actors. I wouldn’t call it a scam though. Every actor who takes a workshop knows what they are doing. They hope that they might be called into that office with a possibility that it might not happen. I also saw what the CDs would get paid per workshop and a lot of them do it for the money. Now, yes I know people who’ve been called in, myself included and I booked work, But the vast majority of actors don’t get called in. Therefore it is not good for actors. It creates a false perception for actors to spend their hard earned money in hopes of a job. Now for the actors who got called in for an audition I understand you are upset but that technically was illegal. It actually proves the point that it’s pay to play. I just hope this makes especially CDs, agents, and managers work a little harder instead of relying on actors money to do their job. Because CDs should be going to see plays, webseries, or meet with actors instead of collecting a $500 paycheck and ignore admiring actors on the way out the door.

  9. BK says:

    Actors today – I gotta tell you. Everything about the business is stupid today. I remember a time when a co-starring role meant you were the co-STAR, not some effing bit player with three lines. You know how this used to work? When casting directors weren’t uppity little punks who have no business doing what they’re doing, and who do NOT do their jobs? For a guest show, five actors would be called in by a casting director who knew all the known and up-and-coming actors. They would not read for the casting director EVER. They would be taken in to read for the people who could hire them, and THOSE people had no need for tape (there wasn’t any), they watched, made a decision, and one of those five actors had the job a few hours later. That was the process and it was a whole lot better. No network idiot every approved any guest star or co-star (when that meant something), and frequently they only approved if it was a starring role in a new pilot.

    Then in the 80s, the power began to shift – slowly at first, then more and more. Suddenly you had to read for the casting director, who would frequently quote from the playbook and say “Here’s an adjustment,” like they even knew what that meant. Then tape came and they’d put you on tape. Only THEN would you go meet the people who could hire you, even though they’d just seen you on tape. And THEY’D put you on tape for the network. Ridiculous. I don’t know how anyone goes through this BS today, frankly.

    Which brings us to these noxious workshops for money. No. Sorry. Actors who are supporting this are shockingly silly. Casting directors, rather than ripping off actors, need to do their jobs, it’s that simple. And here’s the deal, idiot casting directors: That includes seeing plays and making yourselves aware of what talent is in your city. If you can’t do that, then get out of the business because you are a joke. Boo hoo if it takes some of your precious time – you are being PAID by producers to do your damn job so do it. Don’t take money from actors. Shame on you. But I look forward to hearing from yet more actors who got some three-line role on some idiotic series and got some kind of day rate. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so pathetic to read.

    • BK says:

      Sorry for the typos – guest show should read guest shot – “no network every” should read “no network ever” and whatever others I probably haven’t noticed.

      • Alan Smithee says:

        Hey I remember you! Didn’t I direct you in a few Perry Mason episodes? Your were a contract player at Republic Pictures, right? Good guy, handsome. Nice to see you’re still alive.

        Seriously, today actors are putting themselves on tape and emailing in their auditions. I’m sure soon enough casting directors will yearn for the days of old you speak about.

  10. Michael Villar says:

    The comments are funny. It’s like, yeah, you went to them and never got called in… Ok.. And when I do attend these workshops I think to myself, there are also a bunch of delusional people here that shouldn’t consider this anything other than a hobby. So I’ll allow you to do the math. Keep them going! If you think that these CD’s have time to see every play in Hollywood, or spend days watching the thousands of web series that are out there you’re wrong. Workshops allow the CD’s to see your talents; raw, on their valuable time without an editor, director, or bad DP messing things up.

  11. Michael Villar says:

    Well the CD workshop I went to with Peter Pappas was totally legit! I find it a great way for CD’s to meet talent. After I did the workshop I was brought in for auditions.
    Like the article says, tons of talent moves here all the time. Workshops provide a great way for us to meet CD’s and show what we are capable of doing.

  12. Beth says:

    I never felt comfortable doing workshops because they don’t feel like a class. Rarely is there feedback and some cds seem annoyed to even be in the room. The q&a is set up and everyone asks the same generic questions. People who are advocating these by saying they were called in seem to be missing the point. You wouldn’t have been called in had you not paid to see these people. Wouldn’t you rather create work and be out entertaining through improv shows, plays or shows you made yourself on Digital Media? I always hated the feeling I had after leaving a workshop. I imagine it to be the same as the feeling you get after paying for sex. It just feels wrong. I don’t have this feeling after leaving a real class, a rehearsal or a performance. We are here to be actors not pay for the chance to possibly audition to be an actor.

  13. Beachwood says:

    SO MANY SCHMUCKS! I’m shocked by how many actors on here are okay with paying for auditions. Workshops are a scourge upon our industry, and paying for job interviews is ILLEGAL. You know what casting directors will be forced to do now that their cash cow has evaporated? THEIR JOB. Go to plays, check out student films, etc, look for new actors on TV and independent films.
    The city is making the right choice. Now they should continue with the “call-in services” that background actors use to pay for work. Let’s get it all out in the open. None of this behavior would be considered normal in any other industry.

  14. Sid Wilner says:

    I would like to see these people punished to the full extent of the law. This scam has been going on forever! They usually charge $25-$50 to watch the actors do a scene.. Most of the casting people have absolutely no talent as a teacher or as an actor. In all my years as a working actor, I never met anyone that actually got a job in one of these “workshops”.

  15. Katie says:

    I find this lawsuit to be misguided. Having attended over 250 workshops myself, I can count on one hand the number I felt were “rip offs.” I have learned more about auditioning from workshops than I ever did from my acting classes here in Los Angeles and New York and at my university. I find it suspect that the undercover professional attended only 13 workshops. That seems more like a witch hunt than a thorough investigation. I kept copious notes on every workshop I attended over the last 10 years and would be happy to present those notes as evidence for the defense. I attended workshops from some of the listed defendants. While one of those does reside in my “rip off” column, the others do not. Most workshops are not “pay to play.” They are “pay to learn” and “pay to practice.” If you’d like to go after true “pay to play” entities, I suggest you look at such companies as voices.com and voice123.com and actorsaccess.com/showfax/ecocast, LA Casting and Casting Frontier.

    • Too Legit says:

      Wow Katie 250 workshops yourself. Let’s see 250 workshops x $50 per workshop = $12,500. That’s a lot of money to spend to gain an audition.

    • June says:

      I learned more about casting directors and the nuances of their offices from the kitchen chatter at Lesly Kahn than I did in the year I went into serious debt because I thought I could get more out of workshops than actual class.

      Note: I don’t work for LK, I don’t take classes there anymore, this isn’t an advertisement for them. I’m just saying that you’d be amazed what you learn, both skillset wise and industry wise, when you study with actors who are working.

      Workshops ARE pay to play.

      The fact that you are listing legitimate breakdown distribution services like CF and AA as scams compared to the shit show that is Actors Alley…

      I mean… I hate their pricing, too. It sucks. Paying $10 to post a headshot is the worst. $22 for a minute of reel time? Oh my god, don’t get me started. Not gonna argue. But your materials stays up there and continue to be tools for you.

      When you go in for a paid pre-read, you walk out and it’s done. Unless you have some kind of outstanding skill or quality that they need and can’t fill from their agent submitted talent, then you’re screwed. You played the lottery and like most, you lost – except it was $55 pre-read and not a $1 ticket.

      Every so often they will call people in, maybe even cast them, so that the rumor mill will perpetuate the success.

      “Jamie Castro brings people in! I know because someone I know did it! It worked!”

      Glad it worked out for them. Truly.

      That doesn’t mean that’s how it SHOULD work.

      • Don J says:

        It is sad how LK kitchen failed you. “CDs don’t make final picks. Ever.” Absurdly untrue and I apologize for your career and where it hasn’t taken you. I honestly advise taking a few more acting classes and then getting into a casting director workshop (because this has done nothing to stop them) once your actually ready to compete. And please stay out of the kitchen and in the actual classroom this time, June. That was clearly your first problem.

      • June says:

        * Maybe even advocate hard for them to GET casted, is what I should have said. CD’s don’t make final picks, ever.

    • Beachwood says:

      250?! Crikey, that’s a lot of money.

      • June says:

        Yikes. I didn’t once come at anyone with the nastiness you just threw my way. I don’t know who you really are or what your stake in this whole thing is, though, so I’m going to assume the best.

        Casting directors bring people in. I suppose if you’re trying to cast a larger budget film or a series regular on a show, you can work with your director to see who he or she would like to send out a direct offer to, but we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about co-stars and guest stars on television shows. Casting directors bring in options and the director and/or the network makes the final choice. That’s… I mean, that’s how it is. I’ve taken a ton of workshops. In a workshop, if you ask, they will tell you their job is to bring in options. CD’s bring in options for the boss to pick from. That’s what they do.

        I welcome any casting director who cares to respond with their actual name and show they work on to recount about the time they cast the show without final say from director or creative team.

        Regarding the LK kitchen: it never failed me – except for the time they didn’t have the Kirkland gummies. I mean, guys. Hope you’re reading this. The gummies are bomb! Keep a good stock, always. Regarding their classes: they’re great. I still use techniques I learned there when I audition now.

        Since you decided to drag my own personal accomplishments into the conversation, I’ll just say this: I’ve been at it for a while now, man. I’ve actually done pretty well. Obviously I’m not a super star, but I don’t have to work a day job, which gives me time to rattle on with my thoughts about 1/done workshops on the message boards of Variety.

        If it makes you feel like a big boy to put down strangers on the internet, though, you can certainly go ahead.

  16. Olivia says:

    Billy Damota a non union frustrated CD that barely works. He started this years and years ago all because his girlfriend auditioned for a workshop studio and didn’t get in. He hit on me in a bar going on that he was a big CD. So it is not okay for me to pay 35-40 bucks for a class that I can write off but its okay for him to work the old “casting couch” and to the “actors” that complained that they spent money and never auditioned maybe you need to work on your craft. The CD can only bring you in they don’t make the final decision & they aren’t going to embarrass themselves in front of the room or having nothing to send on tape because your talents aren’t up to the level they should be if you want to book.

    • Olivia Makes Up Stories says:

      You are a bitter and angry and INCORRECT man/woman, “Olivia.” And you are too stupid to post here. First off, there is no such thing as a “non-union casting director.” They don’t really have a union. Even more funny, the man, the legend, Mr. Billy DaMota, C.S.A. has been in the Casting Society of America forever or at least as long as I can remember and I have been acting for many years. I have been auditioning for his UNION jobs for over 30 years! Do you pay attention to anything other than which casting assistant is taking your money tonight so that she can go out and buy a new pair of Prada shoes this weekend? Too Stupid To Post.

    • Van Epperson's Lies says:

      Oh, Van Epperson… find something else to do. Making up lies against a casting director isn’t helping you. We know who you are.

    • anon says:

      FINALLY THE TRUTH! Thank you so much for this comment! You nailed it!

  17. Irrelevant says:

    I’ve gone and paid for many “sessions” at Actors Key in Santa Monica/west la location.
    I enjoyed meeting some very prominent casting directors and every time I got a great feedback from them. But that was basically the end of it.
    100% of these comments here are people related to these workshops or CD’s.
    I guarantee you that each actor who paid to play had high hopes that something will come out of that audition. I don’t care how much you say that it’s for the experience. Bullshit, you are lying!

    Each time I did it I felt like I just wasted my money and learned nothing nor did I gained anything.
    The CD’s hated the Q&A part, they didn’t explain anything, almost annoyed with each question and than after 30 second scene you leave. They and everyone at the place act like they just did you a mojor favor for your money.
    I never met anyone that benefited from this. Also, they bring in these failed actors to do workshops and “teach” you ways for “only” $1000. Meanwhile, they have like 5 credits on IMDb.

    So spare me this crap of how helpful this is, it’s only helpful for the people who made money.
    I’m glad they busted them, I hope they fine and jail them.

    Yes, you go and pay volunteerly but it’s a fine line of misleading you that you are being given this privilege when you are doing all you can to get your foot in the door.
    They cashed in on people being naive! Bye!!

    • Anonymous Actor says:

      “I guarantee you that each actor who paid to play had high hopes that something will come out of that audition.”

      Audition:
      1. an interview for a particular role or job as a singer, actor, dancer, or musician, consisting of a practical demonstration of the candidate’s suitability and skill.

      I’ve never one auditioned at a workshop. I’ve presented scenes that were not related to jobs see how it goes over and learn from that.

      Actors hope something will come out of seeing a CD AT A PARTY OR THE GROCERY STORE. Your hopes do not define what is going on – that is layering expectations on where you were told to have none – in writing, often, and verbally.

      I am in no way related to the businesses or CDs. Nor am I rich. I HAVE been called in by CDs offices where I saw someone in a workshop, I have no way to know how much was my agents just submitting me and how much was a CD taking initiative. But I found the learning experience valuable and worth it.

      • Irrelevant says:

        There is a huge difference between a workshop that lasts couple of weeks where you learn and present yourself.
        We are talking here about places where you pay to audition! Call it anyway you want, you still paid to audition.
        What did you gain out of it??
        If it was just to “practice” you should go take an auditioning class.
        You paid to make a contact and the least you can hope for is make enough of an impression that they will remember you for soemthing. They don’t.
        Your time with them for a 30 second scene isn’t enough. Especially because some of them do these sessions NOT workshops at least few times a week or month.
        I’m not even gonna address the creepy agents/managers with barely anything to offer behaving like they are the top five at CAA!
        So spare me the lecture of what auditioning is. I am a working actor and have been doing this my whole life.
        If you are not related to these places or casting directors you are just fighting here to waste your money. By all means do.
        But as an actor to an actor, you are better of taking actual classes than wasting your waiter money on this only to make you feel like you are going places.
        You are not!

      • JerzyGirl119 says:

        Miriam Webster doesn’t count. Here’s the text in AB1319 for the definition of “audition”. Tell me if you think this applies to CD workshops.

        “‘Audition’ means any activity for the purpose of obtaining
        employment, compensated or not, as an artist whereby an artist meets
        with, interviews or performs before, or displays his or her talent
        before, any person, including a producer, a director, or a casting
        director, or an associate, representative, or designee of a producer,
        director, or casting director, who has, or is represented to have,
        input into the decision to select an artist for an employment
        opportunity. An ‘audition’ may be in-person or through electronic
        means, live or recorded, and may include a performance or other
        display of the artist’s promotional materials.”

      • actor says:

        there are ways to see how much your agents are submitting you. Just ask for your submission report. It’s a great way to see who they are submitting you to, who is currently casting your type and who you should target.

  18. Truth says:

    Only industry in the WORLD potential employees are openly scammed by Human Resources and are ok with that

  19. Truth says:

    Poor babies. No sympathy. For those who do them, wake up. You paid for a job interview.

  20. BobbyB says:

    Man, reading the comments here is unbelievable. Most of you calling BS on this should read it again. Unless you have definitive proof otherwise, nowhere in this article does it state that this was anything other than paying for an audition. If Variety left that out, then I concede this point. But, as someone going off of only what this article states, it sounds like they were charging for auditions only. No mention of it being part of a larger workshop.

  21. rgday says:

    I say we all show up at the hearings!

  22. Don J says:

    My first 4 tv jobs came from a relationship I built with Casting Directors through workshops. At least this “professional actor” got the one acting job he’ll ever get– informant. I bet his career was just soaring before he landed a gig equatable to 22yr old baby faces who try to buy liquor without ID. Only actors lose with this ‘bust’.

    I hope Fueur is enjoying Shallman’s money while AB109 victors are out killing folks. Terrible city attorney

  23. June says:

    Dude. Finally. I am honestly amazed that it took this long.

    They are paid auditions under the guise of a class. Most of the places listed here don’t do a classroom format where everyone sits and observes and gets a lecture about the process. It’s go in, read (in other words, audition) and then go out. And you’re out $50-$65 on average.

    They try to insist that the one&done’s are educational. I have done plenty of them – they are anything but educational. There is nothing to learn from someone who watches you and says, “cool, thank you” and then… Nothing else.

    I don’t have a problem with class format type workshops. I think you learn from watching casting directors work with your peers. However, this business of the go in/go out paid audition is unethical and, according to the talent scam act, very illegal.

    And this is what kills me: it is totally possible to do actual workshops AND comply with the law by teaching an actual class and not charging for an audition.

    When Lisa Zambetti still taught her class it was three weeks where we sat in class for three hours and she lectured about the process of creating and casting a procedural like Criminal Minds. She went over character types they look for and every week we ALL did mock auditions that were taped and we had to watch each other. I seriously learned so much. Yes, it was a workshop, but it was actually educational and complies with the law.

    If we are seriously moving toward paid auditions then… Whatever, I guess, $55 to do a cold read of terrible sides that don’t show who you are or what you are capable of isn’t ok.

    It’s unethical and it is fucking wrong.

    I’ve done workshops at all of these places with most of these casting directors and I agree – strongly – with the charges.

  24. B says:

    What a fucking joke. Most of the actors I know who don’t agree with workshops are either:

    a) already working
    b) are too broke to take them
    c) are to lazy to take them
    d) have no success with them bc they are not ready or not experienced enough to even get to point of benefiting from them.

    These charges are ridiculous. This article alone is going to scare off half of the remaining CD’s who do them. Unless you’re an actor in the trenches who isn’t completely delusional (all of us are to a certain degree), you won’t understand their importance. Unfortunately, LA is no longer a small town where you can sit and have coffee to meet a casting director.

    PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS. Workshops are another tool actors have. An option. Some actors have success without a demo reel… some without workshops. Well, some need them.

    • June says:

      No one is forcing people to get involved with Ponzi Schemes or other cons, either — but conning people is still illegal. Nobody forces anyone to buy a lemon, but we still have lemon laws because these practices are predatory and deceptive by nature and preying on innocents is something we generally agree is bad.

      “Too broke to take them” is most of us, dude. If you’re going to charge for an audition then maybe don’t fucking con us for it. I’d bitch a lot less over $15 – $20 than I would over $65, which was Will Stewart’s (and most associates in Linda’s office that did 1/done workshops) going rate for five. fucking. minutes. and. no. feedback.

      • Don J says:

        If you got no feedback, it means that you were not ready to be there. Accept that you stayed in the kitchen at all the acting classes you went to and forgot to actually learn anything. Pick yourself back up and in a couple years of training (I have no idea how bad you actually are) and get back to meeting directors and casting directors. I genuinely wish you luck. Based on your responses here, you’re one that definitely needs it. Talent is only possessed by some. Best wishes. And remember– less kitchens, more learning. You got this, champ.

  25. Eric Sizemore says:

    I graduated from Chapman University with a BFA I theatre and am currently paying off $100k in debt as a result. And I did not learn HALF as much about auditioning, resumes, and navigating Hollywood as I have from attending $40 workshops. Simply attending, asking questions, and being redirected by real casting directors and their associates IS a class, IS educational, and IS in no way paying to audition. With all due respect to the city attorney, I did learn from these workshops and I hope these slanderous and FALSE charges prove fruitless.

  26. Michele Karpel says:

    I’m so disheartened to read about Mike Feuer’s intent to file charges against these CD’s and their associates.

    The entertainment industry is a business. We actors are the products. Casting is the consumer. How else does a consumer choose a product without being familiar with it? It’s marketing 101.

  27. Bruce says:

    They need to investigate Central Casting. It is near impossible to get work with them unless you pay Extras Management a monthly fee. Casting Agents at Central have advised me personally that joining Extras Mangement or one of the other Call in Srevices is the only way to get booked.

  28. Cuyle Carvin says:

    Here’s a longer version of what I should have poster earlier: Fellow industry peeps: This is ridiculous. I don’t even know where to begin. I will happily defend these CDs and workshop companies. Those who call this a scam of any kind are either on the outside of the business, had a bad experience at a workshop, bitter actors or misinformed industry folk. I’m sure there may be some bad apples that take advantage of actors, but if you want to look at it that way then you have to look at agencies, managers and classes as well, there some bad folk there, too. Saying you had a bad experience at one workshop and then judging the entire workshop industry based on that is absurd. And if you’ve never had a good experience at one, you should seriously consider some self reflection. This industry has many fools preying on the vulnerability of actors. It’s an unfortunate part of the industry and if you’re in it, you learn to avoid it pretty easily. But workshops have been invaluable for my career. It’s where you make relationships, not just with CDs, but with other actors. It’s where you learn the specifics of each office, their “do’s/dont’s”, their casting processes, direct feedback, and the experience of how this industry works.
    No one gets hired from these workshops. It’s stupid that opponents keep saying that. If you’re a solid actor and you make a good impression with a CD, perhaps they’ll have you in for an audition when something right comes along. You still have to go in and audition against 15 other guys or gals.
    There are hundreds of thousands of actors. CDs are hired to put together a great cast, bring the best talent to the project. They’re on a tight schedule to cast, especially in TV. If they’re seeing 10 actors per role for 20 roles, that’s 200 actors they have to see in 2 days. (and I’m pretty certain that’s a lowball figure). How the hell do you think they have time to do all that? If they only have time to see 10-15 actors, they’re gonna audition 10-15 actors that they know for fact can deliver. They don’t always have the convenience of calling in actors they don’t know, who may suck and therefore a waste of time and an audition slot for a more capable actor. Nobody got time for that! They call in actors they know and trust. If you’re not with an agency that has a relationship with a particular casting office, or lacks clout, then guess what buddy – you ain’t getting an audition! For this reason alone is why workshops are invaluable. Getting to meet and show off for a CD that you simply could never meet otherwise. I could go on for days about this.
    If I was trying to get a job at Microsoft and had the opportunity to pay $40 and go meet Bill Gates, listen to his experience, what he looks for when considering hiring new employees, how the company works…you’re damn sure I’ll do it! If another job applicant doesn’t want to attend, that’s cool, but don’t burn the company down cause you lost it to someone who utilized opportunities better than you. And don’t get me started on this, “I don’t have $40” bullshit. Yeah, neither did I. I found a way to get it. Waiting tables, getting a second job, not blowing money on restaurants and bars. You know, basic sacrificing of shit in order to do what’s necessary to succeed.
    Just as headshots and acting classes are necessary tools in this industry, workshops are another. Not everybody uses them, some actors have opportunities where workshops aren’t necessary (well connected agency/manager, big resume, youth), but for the 99% of SAG actors that don’t make a living acting, who scratch and claw for a handful of one line auditions each year, who don’t have an agent or their agent just can’t “open doors”, workshops can be the only way to ever get facetime with casting offices.
    Consider this: none of this is a complaint, simply stated info leading to a bigger point. I have nineteen television credits. I’ve done over forty indie films, more than half of them I was the lead in the film. I’ve done over ten theatrical plays. I have over 80 credits on IMDB. My TV credits alone are more than many TV stars and celebrities have. Anyone in the biz will tell you that that is a ton of credits, perhaps the equivalent of two or three other actors careers worth of credits. I still can’t get an audition with a lot of casting offices. Part of why they won’t call me in because they don’t think I’m qualified, I’m just another floating head in the sea of actors. They have no idea what I’m capable of and they don’t have time to figure that out right now because they’re too busy hiring actors that they already know and love. I’m completely unknown to them. Meanwhile, there are series regulars who have a fraction of the TV credits that I do. They’re working because they got the opportunity. Their agent, manager or someone on their team knew casting, producers, etc….they got an audition and rocked it. If you don’t have those or aren’t a part of a team with those relationships, you will never work. Workshops can sometimes be the only way to start a relationship. Of course there are other variables at play, but generally, as in all things in life, relationships are vital for success. And even then, when everyone knows each other, it’s still possible and probable that you still won’t get an opportunity. I’ve done hundreds of workshops. Some of the CDs I’ve met have never called me in. Maybe they don’t like me, think my talent is that of a dead squirrel, or maybe there’s just nothing that they cast that I’m right for, but that’s the way it works. Or maybe some of them were the scammer type who just want my money. Who knows? I’ve taken classes and headshots with people who I don’t want to work with again. Trial and error. I’m not about to sue all the photographers and acting studios because I didn’t get what I wanted or hoped for. And finally, just because you take a workshop, it does not entitle you to anything. Ugh. I know I have friends on both sides of this and some will want to stuff feces in my face here, that’s cool.

    • Van Epperson's Lies says:

      Wow, Cuyle, maybe you’ll now have time to get a law degree in your spare time from not paying to meet casting people! You’ll be able to defend them in just a few years!

    • Truth says:

      No offense Cuyle. Your a co star actor. That is why you like these. Big boys who do top of show and pilots don’t need these

      • Anonymous Actor says:

        What is your point in calling Cuyle a Co-Star actor? I hope its not that Cuyle is “lesser than” because he has done some Co-Star roles. Last time I checked, Co-Star roles were well paying legitimate union jobs on television. Nothing to be ashamed of, and many people WISH to have gotten that far. Cuyle is a working actor with an established list of credits. Congratulations Cuyle, and much luck to you for continued success.

        No, people at the top of shows don’t need these NOW. What about everyone else who wants to meet and learn from people in casting? We can’t all have uncles at CAA or happen to get lucky and be in a Sundance darling and get seen in major offices 3 credits to our names. People who get to the top do it in a lot of ways – much involving lucky connections or projects meeting talent. Some climbed up the ladder through getting known more and more (and I’ve heard a lead say she did workshops when she was an unknown).

      • Don J says:

        You’re. Please use your real name, Truth. I want to learn what credits it takes to be a “big boy”.

      • Cuyle Carvin says:

        Thanks, Truth. Great name. I don’t take offense from misinformed comments. I was a co-star actor for many years, that’s how careers go. You work costars until bigger opportunities come along. I still do them on occasion too, sometimes you have to take steps backward just to stay in the game. Especially with all these ‘big boys’ who step down from their film star status to take a series lead. If you think regulars haven’t done and don’t do workshops, you’re wrong and should consider a name change. I know a handful of actors who are now regulars who attended workshops. Eventually, we all leave them behind – because we don’t need them anymore. But breaking into the industry requires small miracles, and workshops are a a useful tool to get started. If I cared more to prove you wrong, Truth, I’d list all my credits. Side note: It’s *you’re

  29. Frank says:

    I am an actor and use these “classes” for exactly what they are for: paying to play.

    Any instruction or feedback is incidental, if at all helpful. I am PAYING to get seen by a casting director or manager so they might cast me/rep me. Let’s call a f-ing spade a spade. Every actor knows this is the point – not to learn – and every casting director/agent/manager knows the point is extra cash in their pocket. If they happen to see an actor they like and subsequently call in, GREAT, but that’s not the point. For them it’s a “second job,” as one of the managers I’ve read for ACTUALLY CALLED IT in the class.

    Sure I’ve had some good feedback, but whatever – I was called in for a HBO guest-star spot by a manager ONLY because I paid to play for her in the first place. There was no way she would have found me.

    It’s time for an industry shift. Actors Connection, One on One, and other studios out in NYC should suffer the same fate as well. Casting directors/agents/managers should have generals that are FREE or have FREE online submission portals if they’re looking for fresh faces and no one should be getting paid for actors’ submissions. An easy way to weed out the novices and find talent – review quality self-tapes – without exploitation.

    I was fine with being “exploited” because I knew that’s exactly what it was – just another price to pay. Hopefully things will shift.

    • Truth says:

      Your entire resume is littered with DEA agent, secret service guy, guy #1. I have seen your resume.

    • Truth says:

      Im a working actor, top of show, pilots and series reg on resume. Have paid zero dollars to audtion for a job. I hustled my butt off, met people, networked, built REAL relationships based on merit, respect instead of paying to meet them. Will I buy them a drink? Of course. Take them to lunch? Of course. That is how relationships are made, not by buying auditions.

      • Don J says:

        No you aren’t, Truth. No you aren’t.

      • Frank says:

        WELL GOOD FOR YOU. You’re special. You’re a REAL ACTOR and you’re better than everyone else. You buy drinks and lunch instead of workshops, which is actually probably more expensive. I should try that relationship-building tactic too. Thanks for the tip. But the point is to have them buy ME the drinks.

        How much on drinks did you spend to get your first audition? How did you get your first TV audition? Did you pay for Actor’s Access? Did you buy someone lunch at SoHo House?

        I have paid zero dollars to audition for a job. I don’t need instruction – I had acting teachers for that. I paid for many $30 “workshops” to be seen by casting directors, agents, and managers and drop off my headshot because how the fuck else am I going to meet them if they don’t come to my plays or watch my reel? And yeah – it works. It sucks and I’m glad the practice is ending, but it works…just like buying drinks and lunches apparently does.

    • Paisley says:

      I think the issue was that the casting directors were being paid to come and see the actors audition.
      The actors paid the workshop…and the workshop paid the casting directors.
      That separation in the cash flow was not enough.
      If the casting directors came on their own…without having to be paid to be there…then I think there would be no case.

      But there are lots of workshops…and the class expects to seee more than one if they are going to be paying a few hundred for the exposure…so the workshops would have a problem actually getting casting directors to appear (enough of them, on time, and for the whole show) if they were not being paid.

      Maybe things will shift back to the ‘Agents Night” that used to be the norm at the end of workshops.
      I dont think the city would bring a case against an agent being paid to watch actors.

  30. Anonymous NOT an Actor says:

    After reading these posts I’ve never been so happy I’m NOT an actor. YUCK!

  31. Anonymous Actor says:

    After reading through the comments, it occurs to me that an undercover person is UNQUALIFIED to judge the learning experience of these workshops. Anyone going in to just observe and go through the motions CAN’T understand the actor mindf**k that actors wrapped up in their passion to act and be successful at it are trying to address and DO address by learning from simply participating in workshops and evaluating how they did with whatever feedback there was and their own self analyses of issues that came up for them and then later applying it to their auditions. A workshop without stakes misses the EXPERIENCE that you learn from. In addition to other potential information that was given. Also, I would wonder if the investigator tried to ask questions and the CDs refused to answer them, because I’ve never experienced that, and if they didn’t take it on themselves to solicit answers in areas they wished to know more about – they missed part of the experience as well.

    So HOW other than simple process reasons like paperwork or if someone failed to note that it is not the promise of an audition or employment, did any investigator determine the VALUE of workshops as a LEARNING EXPERIENCE. It’s simply not possible.

    Complaints about workshops have come, largely, from actors who feel like they were owed an audition as a result (despite being told EXPLICITLY they should expect nothing in the way of auditions or employment):
    If you don’t have the goods, no one will want to buy your product. If you are developmental, you may need more credits, an agent, or to join SAG-AFTRA. No parts may come up that you are right for. You are there to learn. If you don’t ask questions and evaluate yourself, and approach workshops with the educational frame of mind – you played yourself, you didn’t get played.
    Those actors need to look at their own expectations and craft and marketing materials instead of crying fowl. There are thousands of dilusional actors who think they are “ready” – they aren’t. And you can get that feedback off of body language even if you get a polite feedback (although I wish more CDs would just say “you need more training” – and if you were a GOOD actor – you’d know how to read the body language and words and tone of voice and facial expressions – because that is the BASE of what you do as an actor. And if you’re such a bad actor you can’t read that, then get this “no response IS their response” – go back to the drawing board and figure out the pieces that are missing instead of kicking up a fuss because you think you are owed something that no one promised you.

    The price point is the only thing I think worth discussing, as I think they could be a little lower – like $20 – $25. But, it’s my choice to evaluate whatever I want to spend as part of what I budget for acting expenses. Like, I could pay $200 for a month of class, and that would average out to $50 a class where I would also, maybe, work once (and many classes cost more). So what does the city care if I spend my money learning in an experience I find educationally valuable.

    • Paisley says:

      I think you are missing what the violation actually is.

      Some of the money that was paid by the actor to participate in the workshop…was then used as an incentive to get casting directors to attend the audition part of the curriculum.

      Likely…the sales script implied that workshoppers would gain a beneficial placement in the process (and thus the jobs) that the casting directors control access to.

      The fact that the workshop was the middle man in the transaction was not enough.
      The casting directors received payment…and the actors received beneficial position over people who did not pay into the scheme.

      If the casting directors came of their own free will as a part of their work research…and were not paid to attend…then there would likely have been no case brought against them.

      Money ruins everything.

    • Anonymous says:

      It was AN ACTOR working undercover with the department!

      • Anonymous Actor says:

        An “actor” conducting an undercover investigation wouldn’t get the same thing out of a workshop – because they are looking for information based on another agenda – they aren’t legitimately experiencing the workshop as a participant. Did they ask questions and were they answered? They learned something. Did they ask questions of THEMSELVES as an actor and how they could improve based on the experience? They learned something.

        Did they read sides from a role that was currently casting and open for landing as a job? I’ve never seen it. So it’s not pay for play or auditioning. (In fact many workshops require that you bring your own sides for a reader to read with you or use approved sides that are from already cast or non-existent projects.)

      • Olivia says:

        Do you have any idea how many people wake up and say I want to be an actor? They don’t do the work they run around saying I am an actor. This person isn’t a true working actor. Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn’t make me Madonna. Never will. Working girl

      • another actor... says:

        Then it was a silly uneducated actor. If some people think the classes are not worth it and choose to not spend their money to attend them, that shouldnt mean that i cannot choose to spend my money on them. If i go to target and want to buy a shirt, but you say “that shirt is too expensive, its not worth it, it wont do anything for you” im still gonna buy the damn shirt if i want it, EVEN THOUGH YOU DONT HAVE TO. in other words.. LET US LIVE.

  32. Charlie says:

    Preach, my friend.

  33. Ahsoka says:

    The best thing an actor can do when they are just starting out is to do research. If you are looking for an acting coach, do some research on that person. Find out about their credentials. If the workshop sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. I am speaking from experience.No real talent agent asks you to pay money upfront for their services. And when it comes to casting workshops the best by the ones with proper credentials. I have seen many people pay thousands of dollars for a weekend workshop and come out of it with nothing.

    Shop around, ask questions, and ask the right ones. These scam artists need to be caught and punished accordingly.

  34. Cuyle Carvin says:

    This is ridiculous. I don’t even know where to begin. I will happily defend these CDs and workshop companies. Those who call this a scam of any kind are either on the outside of the business, bitter actors or other uninformed industry folk.

  35. Donna says:

    Good call, LA. This is not unlike modeling agencies which demand people take their classes to have s better chance of obtaining modeling or film work. Some southern states have gone to military types as “models” under this guise.
    Isn’t this like some unscrupulous literary agents who demand a fee to read a manuscript for potential placement?
    I have advised numerous people not to think about “pay to play” even if it sounds good.

    • another actor... says:

      But this makes no sense… i dont remember “paying anyone to audition” (pay to play) no one forced me as a poor desperate actor to pay to an audition. nope. never happened. i did however see classes from industry professionals and took them and got some great experience and learned a lot.. no one has twisted my arm, or preyed on my dreams, just gave me an opportunity to train like i would train if i was a singer or dancer…. so im sorry but this argument is invalid.

  36. Anonymous Actor says:

    This sucks for the CDs (I can’t speak to how the companies are run in general, but I see one on here I’ve been to and I didn’t see anything out of order with how they do things).

    I am an actor who thinks workshops are great :
    * They are NOT an audition – it’s more like being an “in person” reel that also shows how you present in the room and getting FEEDBACK on that that you LEARN FROM – sometimes verbal, sometimes written, sometimes body language or a combination of all three. AND we could always ask them specific questions about our headshots, resumes, how we came off, or what we just did in private before or after presenting a piece we brought to show the CD – and I took advantage of that.
    * You aren’t doing sides that are available jobs. And if you meet someone who later calls you in – that’s not so different from them seeing you in a play or something (and you shouldn’t have to do a play – because they take time which is money too if you have to carve it out of your life, and you have to work bigger than you do in something that replicates how Film/TV CDs normally view acting, and not all screen actors want to do plays).
    * You also learn what it feels like to perform in front of people you care about the opinions of – I personally learned how much I needed to work on nervousness issues and over time implemented different techniques and learned to bring them down. I learned how to present myself with a confident start, go into the work, then finish with confidence and try to be myself in an uncomfortable situation. You can simulate this in an acting class but because you work in an ongoing relationship with the teacher it doesn’t trigger your performance/nerve/presentation issues the same way. You are too comfortable in class to learn how you would be in a real high stake audition situation.
    * Plus every workshop I’ve ever been in includes a Q & A where you learn more about the casting process and specific offices – which is very important in a world that can seem hidden behind a curtain but which actors need to understand to get how to be successful when they DO have auditions.
    * I’d also like to say that I’ve never been in a workshop that didn’t state that it was for learning and not an audition or employment opportunity as they are supposed to.
    * I don’t go to workshops to learn acting technique – I go to learn how to be a better at auditioning in high stakes situations. The learning process comes as much from the actors experience as the feedback – so people who expect to get a whole curriculum or super detailed acting advice need to go to acting classes for that. People who also didn’t use their time with a CD to ask any questions on things they wanted to know shouldn’t lament that THEY didn’t make the most of their learning opportunity

    You aren’t paying to play – you are paying to learn how to better audition with the aid of a casting professional – because you don’t want to make all your mistakes in actual auditions that have a minimum of $1000 on the line (for TV). That helps you get farther faster when you audition because you get called back to most or all the offices that call you in – even if you aren’t right for the part they initially bring you in for. You also get to meet people in casting so they know you can act and are a presentable and professional human being – if they choose to being you in later its NOT because you paid to meet them, it’s because they met an actor whose acting they liked that is right for a part, just like if they saw your work any other place. And they either thought of you or when your agent submitted you, they had a base line of knowing you have some talent to call you in for something. You still have to go into that AUDITION and win the role. They aren’t hiring anyone who doesn’t win the role in an audition – and PRODUCERS AND DIRECTORS actually pick the person for the job, NOT Casting Directors, anyway.

    Actors who think they have been scammed because they’ve done workshops and have never been called in should look at their acting, their presentation of confidence in the room, their headshots, their resumes, the types of characters they are right for and how much they come up (paired with their acting ability and credits), their union status, and whether or not their agents submit them appropriately and to which offices (their agents need to actually APPLY for a job for you, they did not audition for a job at a workshop – they only removed some of the mystery around who they are in a sea of unknown actors).

    I wish people would stop trying to protect actors from spending their money of their own choice in a way that should be perfectly legal.

    • ActorWhoSupportsCASTINGdirectors says:

      I absolutely agree with you. I would not be the working actor today without the incredible tutorage I received from these Casting workshops. I use to get soooo nervous in the rooms and I have learned greatly from these opportunities and the practice I’ve received from doing these for years. I have had only positive experiences with these casting directors, who genuinely love to teach and should not be punished for imparting their guidance and wisdom with actors. It’s a “we” business and this is an absolute atrocity and a huge step backwards. There are bigger issues in this corrupt industry that need to be dealt with and this is certainly NOT one of them.

  37. Anonymous31 says:

    This is AWFUL. I’m a working actor— and have always found the CD workshops to be a tool to use when times are slow and tough. At THE VERY LEAST these sessions emulate an audition experience — it’s not so much about meeting a casting director— but keeping your auditioning muscles flexed. and YES you also get to meet a Casting director as a bonus. But any business savvy actor ( and you come to Hollywood you should research and get savvy) understands that no job is guaranteed. It is NO DIFFERENCE than any other acting class— it’s up to the actor to approach it as such and have no expectations. The CD’s listed below are good people who care about actors. When I participate in these I always feel respected and always leave feeling like i gained SOMETHING. Many many many working actors have benefited from these experiences— and It’s a great shame that these businesses are vilified. The SELF TAPING phenomena going on these days—where actors are forced to shell exorbitant amounts of money to put themselves on tape is a much pressing matter than CD Workshops.

  38. Paisley Shaw says:

    It is an old cyclical scam. Some people look at the hopeful actors and seek to help them in their nearly impossible quest….some have always seen them as a resource to be mined and monetized to the full extent possible..

    Over the last 30 years that I have been plugged into this world I have seen many such efforts to sell access to auditions for money…and I applaud the City Attorney for paying attention and enforcing the law.

    Real working casting directors keep their distance from “Casting Workshops” exactly because of the tendency of the people hired to actually run the class…to line their pockets. Especially those in the commercial world are really conscious of how their reputation can be damaged. Big ad agencies are picky about who they will work with for the same reason. Reputation is everything when you are trying to land a big multinational client.

    Many of the casting directors I know will not even call in actors from known “pay for audition” orgaizations. The thinking being that calling in those actors will encourage the business model.

    In the past this stuff has evolved into complex pay schemes wherein every person on the ladder…from the teacher…to the director…to the producer…gets a bit of the pie (often indirectly).

    In the worst case scenario the class organizer starts using a sales pitch that guarantees a certain number of auditions as a tactic to garner more class sales. (Remember JRP? Are they still around?)

    Soon the whole process gets whored up…and I have actually heard of fake casting calls set up to satisfy the actors complaints when the Pay For Audition workshop cannot generate the number of real auditions that were promised. At this point….it is truly fraud happening…and there have been convictions in the past.

    There have been fights over refunds…and those usually fail because of the wording of the Casting Workshop contract.

    Anyway….I was glad to read of the latest bunch of busts. This will probably buy the actors a few years of less scum on an already incredibly difficult pond.

    Paisley.

    • Charlie says:

      Lol wrong. wrong wrong wrong wrong. There’s so much incorrect Information here.

      • Paisley says:

        Your response is lacking in substance. Sort of like Trump on twitter.

        Casting directors control access to the jobs….even though they often do not make the selections themselves.

        Actors were in effect paying the casting directors….albeit indirectly through the workshop.

        Sales people were making promises about casting directors choosing people from the workshop.
        Implication of a benefit to be gained by paying the money for the workshop.

        If the casting directors watched auditions as a part of their research or general business practices… without being paid to do so…I think there would be no case.

  39. Tanya B says:

    I am an actor who took a workshop with Eddie Jaszek several months ago. He was 100%, without a doubt there only for the paycheck. He was rude, dismissive and looked as if he just rolled out of bed. Couldn’t have cared less about the “students” who were there to learn something from him. It was a toxic, degrading experience for a serious actor new to Los Angeles. I immediately complained to the workshop company and never got a response. I’m incredibly grateful to the District Attorney’s Office for this investigation and in the work they are doing cleaning up this shameful pattern of scams. I never took a class with the other CDs named, and have also had some wonderful experiences taking workshops with CDs. They are not all bad, but when they’re bad they are awful and completely demoralizing to young artists.

    • Anonymous Actor says:

      I’d add that I appreciate Eddie’s laid back style, because he runs a smooth and quick audition that doesn’t feel intimidating. It’s closer to having a friend put you on tape with minimal direction than some other experiences where the distance between casting and you, as people, seems to hang in the room.

    • Anonymous Actor says:

      Specifically how was he rude and dismissive? Did he say anything actually offensive or did you just think he needed an instructional upbeat tone? Because when you encounter many casting professionals, you discover the range of how they are – that’s part of the valuable learning experience – seeing them as “people” and hearing them talk other than brief audition encounters so you can get a read on who they are. “So and so’s tone is curt and she doesn’t smile a lot, but she is really supportive of actors” is a note I’ve made in a Workshop – that lets me know if I go into an office and find a CD that way to not take it personally and let it throw me off that they aren’t all chatty and smiling because that’s just who they are and has nothing to do with me. “So and so seems super friendly and a bit nerdy for these shows —-” is another note I have made so if I ever auditioned for them I could feel free to try and make a comment to start a little chat because they’d be more open to that.

      And Eddie has a kind of laid back rock and roll casual style in his look and demeanor (which is a legitimate way to be – because this isn’t corporate America its a creative field), but he is nice and easygoing in my experience.

      Also, you say you are new to LA so here is some advice if you find CDs personalities demoralizing – you are going to have to deal with that and fix that. There are a range of behaviors you will encounter when you go in to audition, and you need to be able to hold your own as an actor and artists and proceed with your best work no matter what. And you may also encounter a range of behaviors and speaking styles on set. Hold your power in your belief of what you can do, because if you try to read everybody and interpret how they feel about you you will likely be both wrong and taking assaults to your self esteem for things that have nothing to do with you. Maybe at the highest levels actors get coddled, but at the lower levels, you are a working stiff and will get no special treatment in attitude (even if they act like they cater to you on set – sometimes condescendingly).

      • Tanya B says:

        Thanks for commenting on this. I totally agree about holding your own, not expecting to be coddled or praised and being able to handle different personality types. Eddie Jaszek, specifically was late for every single “class” and gave little to no feedback, instruction or helpful industry advice what so ever. In my experience he should and thankfully is being held accountable for ripping people off. Sounds like we both had different experiences with him and I can appreciate that. However, my experience is valid and I believe that Eddie lacks integrity and took advantage of his status as a CD. At the time I spoke with other students in our “class” and they agreed that he was there to collect a paycheck, not to help actors.

  40. This is such a waste and sad because it’s the only way actors can get seen…. such ashame

    • Paisley Shaw says:

      Any school not associated with a casting director…and that does not promise auditions…is a good choice. No one should ever ask an actor to pay to audition….and obviously any such promise to send every actor in a class to a casting audition is going to do nothing but irritate casting directors. Casting directors are under great time pressure and cannot afford to be a part of some other profit scheme.
      Their job is to serve their client (the producer).

      Some actors are just not right for a role….and maybe just dont have the chops. Casting directors depend upon the filter provided by agents and agencies who have looked at actors and thought them a good bet. That is the way a casting director serves his client (the producer) best…saving time and money that would be consumed by the casting director being a part of some scheme to sell auditions.

      Auditions are and always have been free….and tough to come by.
      There are no shortcuts….and no guarantees.
      That is showbiz. There is certainly an element of “lottery” in the mix.

      But that is not the only way to get seen. Real casting directors make a habit of attending live theater and pay attention to the people they encounter. There is a constant search for “New Faces” and “Real people”.

      This town has an insatiable appetite for New Unsigned Talent.
      But it is a tough game for sure.

  41. Charlie says:

    This. Is absolutely RIDICULOUS. first of all, a casting director workshop, is exactly what it states. A WORKSHOP. it is a class. It is an educational tool for actors (like myself) to be able to LEARN from industry professionals how to perfect our craft. If I was a dancer, I’d want to train with people who were working in the dance industry to do the same. Why should you tell me where I can and cannot spend my money to learn? Secondly, in no way is this giving us access to auditions. There are requirements for scenes that we perform in these classes that have already aired that are not even the CDs projects, so HOW could we audition for something that’s not even a real role? To top all of that off. The casting director is in no way the decision maker of who books a part or not, and if you have any knowledge in the industry you are well aware of this. So again, going to TRAIN to get knowledge and better understand my craft is in no way what this states above, and I think every actor that does this would agree with me. To say this is simply a “scam” and a “pay to play” is absolutely not the case, and it’s sad to me that it’s being advertised in this article as “preying on people’s dreams” is the largest exaggeration. It makes me angry, that I’ve dedicated my life to work in this profession and instead of going to college and educated myself to be a doctor, I’ve come to LA to educate myself to be an actor, and to do that you need classes. Out of the 10 years I’ve been here, training in these workshops they have never once presented it that way that they would make anyone “a star” or give them an audition. Never.. Even before the classes they have to say “this is for educational purposes only” and they give you constructive critiques from a casting directors perspective for what WE as actors need to work on to WORK IN OUR CRAFT. I CANT GET THAT IN COLLEGE. I just don’t think it’s fair as an actor your telling me I’m getting scammed for getting an education when that couldn’t be further from what’s going on….. so. Maybe you should look at this from our point of view. It’s not “poor actors getting scammed” we WANT this to LEARN. I can’t stress that enough. That is all.

    • Jimb says:

      oh come on. That’s why actors take these “workshops”. So they can meet casting directors in the hope of getting auditions through them. If you don’t know how to audition or need someone to tell you how to not blow an audition, you’re in the wrong profession.

      • Van Epperson's Lies says:

        Workshop actors are called “workshop actors” by casting directors I know. They would never call them in for anything other than a one line throwaway and only then so the workshop company would call them back in to make more money off of actors.

      • Anonymous Actor says:

        Auditioning is it’s own skill, and blowing it is easy. Even seasoned lead actors and constantly working actors say they hate it, they blow them, and thank god for directors having seen their work because if they had to get roles from auditions they wouldn’t have gotten them sometimes.

        Auditioning brings up something that being on set does not. It also has it’s own format and objectives – you aren’t just proving you can say lines, you are also proving you won’t fall apart on set by your demeanor and you won’t be crazy. Auditions are about judged whereas on set it’s about doing the work of acting.

      • Charlie says:

        Have you ever considered acting is like a sport and when you don’t do it often you get rusty? Maybe I don’t need to be told ‘how’ to audition but I can garuntee you a football player pays for a gym membership to keep in shape and works out a couple times a week. Same principle applies here. Maybe I LIKE what I do, and I work hard at it. So perhaps I am in the right profession?

  42. Solution in Search of a Problem says:

    As someone who has been to casting workshops, I can speak first hand that these are practical ways to gain real auditioning experience in front of working casting directors. I have never heard a casting director or a workshop company promise or even hint of employment. Most actors are shut out of the system because of the collusion between breakdown services and agencies. Unless you’re represented by a major agency, you are shut out. If actors are willing to pay a small fee to basically meet people in their industry (there are similar situations in many fields), I see no problem. This suit is a solution in search of a problem.

    • Anonymous31 says:

      That’s what people don’t understand— these workshops work on so many level, but the MAIN ONE is a WORKOUT. You get to get participate in an audition like situation— it keeps the machine well oiled, and adds another layer of education and practice to an actor’s routine. Doing plays is NOT the same as auditioning or working out at a workshop.

  43. claytonfroning says:

    These are good people, several of which I have met in workshops. In addition to being a learning experience, this is often the only way for actors to make contact with CD offices. They should be going after the 10,000 shitty agents and managers leaching money off of actors for whom they do nothing.

    • Jimb says:

      i.e. pay to play

      • Paisley says:

        Nothing wrong with workshops.
        The problem is the casting directors accepting payment to attend…and the workshop using their attendance as a sales booster.
        Sales people tend to exaggerate anyway.
        Cant you imagine how they would spin it to get that signup?

        And they would not give the same spiel to all of you working actors who have been around the block.
        They would save the promises for the fresh ones.

      • Charlie says:

        I. E. get out of my town, Jim.

      • Anonymous says:

        “oh come on. That’s why actors take these “workshops”. So they can meet casting directors in the hope of getting auditions through them”

        Correct you are. “…hope of getting auditions…”. Ergo, it is NOT an audition. I spend my money the way I want and 95% of ALL my prime time TV auditions and bookings have come as a result of me choosing to spend my marketing dollars at a workshop where I was able to put my best foot forward in front of a CD. It also allowed my agent to note in the breakdown submissions to these offices that I had met the CD before (esp. the ones I did well at). Otherwise, I’m just another face ina sea of 2000 submissions for a 5 line co-star role. (BTW, one of the “Evil CDs listed in the article, brought me in 13 times over a 4 year period before I booked it and I saw them only 2 times in that 4 year period. So there’s that.)

        Those who oppose workshops have their heart in the right place and yes, there are “scammy” ones out there I’m sure. But most I’ve been to (3 in particular) are professional, care about the actor and have been fruitful to me an many other actors I know who I now have in my network as a result of attending workshops. So let’s stop manufacturing outrage without considering ALL the facts and the overall experience of most actors (or experiencing things 1st hand). That is just stupid and is an easy way to anoint people as victims.

        Regarding SAG’s statement: “Preying on the hopes and dreams of artists is one of the oldest scams in Hollywood” – so says the Union that has less than 1% of its membership working regularly, has inflated the membership by lowering the previously tough standard to join in the last few years (New Media Projects?) but has no problem charging over $3,000 if you are a “must join”. Yes, they have benefits too, no doubt but ease up on the righteousness.

        Plenty of hypocrisy to go around here folks.

  44. ridiculous says:

    What an absolute waste of tax payer money. an undercover guy posing as an actor? are you kidding me? this is a slippery slope. there is never a guarantee that an audition would happen. it is an opportunity for actors – who may not get that opportunity – to meet casting directors – and on many occasions those casting offices remembered who they saw and would call them in separately but certainly not guaranteed – but each time an actor leaving a workshop with viable critiques of their work and and chance to know what to work on it the future. and is this the fault of the casting director? why would they be sued? they are being brought in from a company who is making money on this. if you are going to sue casting then sue everyone who has done them….or sue no one. Are you going to sue agents and managers for going in and being paid for watching scenes (which is really what that law is about) this is a waste of time suit and i hope that all the casting offices that are being sued countersue for not just defamation but potential tortious interference. I understand that there are two very opposed sides on this, i hope that the side being sued has the gumption to stand up to this. i think you will find that a lot of people actually have your back!

  45. Jimb says:

    I’m wondering how all the other workshops with casting directors get around this? It’s very obvious they are all a “pay to play” setup. I’m wondering what set these people/offices apart from the rest. All casting director workshops are, at the very least, unethical. Why would an actor need to take a class from a failed actor who became a casting director (NYC is full of these)? It’s pay to play, that’s all these are. Come in and work with me and then I’ll know who you are and maybe I’ll let you come in and audition for my office…

  46. Robby says:

    Cockroaches

  47. Nanny Mo says:

    It’s hard and people get desperate. Like those talentless women who blame Hollywood for not hiring them, still I’m glad they are watching for crooks. You know, if I had the hyphenated name of “Crabtree”, I won’t use it, but then I’m a nag, but I don’t hyphen that.

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