Casting a Wide Net

Foxx's effort may face tough competition from existing scouts

Next time you’re in a restaurant in Los Angeles, look around. See all the beautiful people carrying plates? They are called actors. And from most observations, Hollywood isn’t experiencing any shortage of them. So why would casting directors click on the Internet in search of the next big thing?

They probably won’t because they don’t need to.

So despite his noble efforts of introducing undiscovered talent to Hollywood, Jamie Foxx may have a tough time competing with the already existing casting and scouting sites such as CastNet.com. Currently, more than 300 casting directors, 185 guild-franchised agencies and over 40,000 actors across the United States use CastNet. It attracts almost 100,000 unique users per month and is endorsed by the Producers Guild of America.

CastNet charges actors a yearly fee of $49.95 to create an online portfolio that contains headshots and a resume. Other services such as video and audio reels are available for an extra fee. Actor information is posted on the network and can be accessed by casting directors and talent agencies in Los Angeles and other large markets.

CastNet claims that many of their members have found job son shows such as “Dharma & Greg,” “The West Wing” and “The X-Files.” However, the site’s actors usually find employment as extras or in commercials.

For a yearly fee of $75 and $9.95 in monthly dues, IAm.com offers a similar service. Despite their A-list leadership — Spike Lee and Revolution Studio’s Joe Roth — sit on the board — the site is anything but stable. In June, IAm’s CEO, Tom Epley, ankled his post the same day that the company pinkslipped 25% of its staff.

The layoffs of 25 employees was heralded as reorganization before IAm acquired additional ventures to boost their offerings. The Web site recently had secured $35.7 million in venture capital financing, with much of it going to advertising and promotional support.

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