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Mark Lambert’s Letter to Casting Directors

Here is the text of a letter, misspellings, inaccuracies, typos and all faithfully reproduced with underlining, bolding and italics, that LA Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert sent to casting directors, dated April 20th, 2010. It is here for your review. Imagine how a casting director might feel receiving this letter out of the blue, leading with little information before launching right into the $10,000 fine and an incorrect assertion of the potential length of jail time (under Remedies, Article 4, the law states one year, not six months.)

City Hall East
200 N. Main Street
Room 800
Los Angeles, CA 90012

[City of Los Angeles Letterhead header]

213-978-8100 Tel
213-978-8312 Fax
CTrutanich@lacity.org
www.lacity.org/atty

CARMEN A. TRUTANICH
City Attorney
April 20, 2010

Recently it has come to the attention of this Otfice that you, or a member oi your staff, may have been featured at what is commonly referred to as a “casting workshop.”

The purpose of this ietter is to place you on notice that new laws regulating the talent service industry (known as “The Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009”) became effective January 1, 2010. These iaws affect a broad range ot businesses, inciuding casting workshops.

A willful violation of any provision by a taient service, its owner, officer, agent, director, agent or employee is punishable as a misdemeanor, with a maximum penaity for each offense of six months in county iaii and a fine of $10,000 (See Labor Code §1704.)

Please note that the talent service itself is not the onty potential offender: A person who aids and abets a violation of this statute is also criminally liable. (See Penai Code §31).

This notice is being sent to other casting directors, associates and representatives, and to motion picture studios, among others, to ensure industry-wide understanding ot the new laws and to obtain maximum compliance, Your selection as a recipient of this letter is not necessarily indicative of any wrongful past conduct.

OVERVIEW OF “KREKOREAN TALENT SCAM PREVENTION ACT:

The “Krekorian TaIent Scam Prevention Act” is available in it’s entirely at www.leginfo.ca.gov. First, click on “California Law.” Then click on “Labor Code.”
Then scroil down on the right to Sections 1?01 through 1705.

The Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009 divides the fee-related talent service industry into four (4) categories:
(1) Advance Fee Talent Representation Services —> Now Prohibited
(2) Talent Training Services —> Permitted, must comply with reguiaiions
(3) Talent Counseling Services -> Permitted, must comply with regulations
(4) Talent Listing Services —> Permitted, must compiy with regutations

I. Advance Fee Talent Representation Service:

An “Advance Fee Talent Representation Service” is iiiegal.

Labor Code §1702 states:

“No person shalt own, operate, act in the capacity of, advertise, soiicit for, or knowingly refer a person to an advance~fee taient representation service.”

“Person” means an individuai, company, society, firm, partnership, association, corporation, limited liability company, trust, or other organization.”
(See Labor Code §1701(e))

An Advance~Fee Taient Representation Service is defined in Labor Code §1702.1:

“(a) ‘Advance~fee talent representation service means a person who provides or offers to provide, or advertises or represents itself as providing, an artist, directiy or by referral to another person, with one or more of the foliowing services described beiow,
provided that the person charges or receives a fee from or on behalf of an artist for photographs, Internet Web sites, or other reproductions or other promotional materials as an artist; lessons, coaching, seminars, workshops, or similar training for an artist; or for one or more of the foilowing services:
(1) Procuring or attempting to procure an employment opportunity or an engagement as an artist.
(2) Procuring or attempting to procure an audition for an artist.
(3) Managing or directing the development of an artist’s career.
(4) Procuring or attempting to procure a taient agent or talent manager, including an associate, representative, or designee of a talent agent or taient manager.
(b) “Advance~fee talent representation service” also means a person who charges or receives a fee from, or on behalf of, an artist for any product or service required for the artist to obtain, from or through the person, any of the services described in paragraphs (1) to (4), inciusive, of subdivision (a).”

“Audition” is defined in Labor Code §1701(b):
“’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 empioyment opportunity. An “audition” may be in-person or through eiectronic means, iive or recorded, and may include a performance or other display of the artist’s promotional materials.”

Consequently, if a casting workshop quaiities as an “Advance Fee Talent Representation Service,” it would be an uniavvful business.

Please be assured that a casting workshop’s disclaimer that it is not for the purpose of obtaining empioyment, or that the workshop is not an “audition” is not controlling.

Factors that may indicate a workshop is indeed for the purpose ot obtaining employment (as opposed to a training event) includes whether the actor provides his/her headsnot or other promotional materials for the casting person to keep (unnecessary for a pure teaching or counseiing experience), the manner in which the Workshop itself is conducted and/or the workshops advertising, for example:

“We want to give a shout out to 5 performers who got cast from our workshop”

“Jane Doe Casting will be here, currently casting for (name of SHOW)”

“Meet Casting Director John Doe who says: ‘Last year we used 100 workshop actors.”

ll. OTHER TALENT SERVICES:

Even if the workshop does not qualify as a “advance fee taient representation service” it may stiil be required to comply with the provisions set forth in Labor Code §1703, which applies to talent training services, talent counseling services and talent listing services.

Labor Code §1701(j) “Talent training service” means a person who, for a fee from, or on behalf of, an artist, provides or offers to provide, or advertises or represents itself as providing, an artist, directly or by referral to another person, with lessons, coaching, seminars, workshops, or simiiartraining as an artist.”

Labor Code §1701(f): “Talent counseling service” means a person who does not manage or direct the development of an artist’s career and who, for a fee from, or on behalf of, an artist, provides or offers to provide, or advertises or represents itself as providing, that artist, directiy or by referrai to another person, with career counseling, vocational guidance, aptitude testing, or career evaluation as an artist.”

Labor Code §1701(g) “Talent listing service” means a person who, for a fee from, or on behaif of, an artist, provides or offers to provide, or advertises or represents itself as providing, an artist, directiy or by referrai to another person, with any of the following:

(1) A list of one or more auditions or empioyment opportunities.
(2) A iist of taient agents or talent managers, including an associate, representative, or designee thereof.
(3) A search, or providing the artist with the ability to perform a self-directed search, of any database for an audition or employment opportunity, or a database of talent agents or talent managers, or an associate, representative, or designee thereof.
(4) Storage or maintenance for distribution or disclosure to a person represented as offering an audition or employment opportunity, or to a talent agent, talent manager, or an associate, representative, or designee ot a talent agent or talent manager, of either of the following: (A) an artist’s name, photograph, Internet Web site, filmstrip, videotape, audition tape, demonstration reel, resume, portfolio, or other reproduction or promotionai materiai of the artist or (B) an artist’s schedule ot availability for an audition or employment opportunity.”

If the casting workshop qualifies as either one of tnese services, it must file a $50,000 bond with the Labor Commissioner, comply with various contract provisions, make refunds and permit cancellation under specified conditions, comply with advertising requirements, maintain and provide designated records to law enforcement and refrain from enumerated prohibited acts. If you would like to obtain a copy of my ietter to taient services explaining in more detail about these requirements, please send an email to mark.lambert@lacity.org.

In conclusion, all appropriate efforts snould be made to ensure fuli compliance with the requirements of state law described above. The City Attorney’s Office is monitoring the taient service industry closely, and reserves the right to take any criminal or civil enforcement action necessary to abate and punish violations of these laws.

Please understand that public prosecutors are not authorized to provide private legal counsel, such as reviewing or approving the operation of a particuiar talent service.

Very truly yours,
CARMEN A. TRUTANICH
Los Angele City Attorney

By
[signature]
MARK LAMBERT
Deputy City Attorney
Consumer Protection Section

NOTE: Feel free to share your thoughts about this letter, its tone and makeup in the comments below.

Posted in Featured.


18 Responses

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  1. Jack Clinton says

    what a terrible law. It’s hard enough to work as an actor. Workshops give the actor a chance to hone their audition skills as well as to make valuable contacts. Why don’t we let people choose where they want to spend their hard earned money? Just another example of the politicians getting involved in something they should stay away from.

  2. Edward L. Green says

    There needs to be some level of protection – there are lots of people willing to take advantage of actors just starting out – but this is too extreme.

  3. David Bickford says

    One of the arguments put forth for this draconian law was that in no other business do you pay to meet people who can hire you. I don’t buy that!

    I know a computer programmer who couldn’t get an interview with the company he wanted to meet with. So, when the CEO was speaking at a convention, this guy PAID to attend the convention and PAID to attend the seminar where the CEO was PAID to be a speaker. The programmer asked intelligent questions in the Q&A — hoping to make a good impression — then passed on a business card and demo CD to the CEO. Now, he knew what he was paying for was not a job interview, but he hoped it would lead to one. I’m guessing he’s not the only person to do something like this!

    How is this different than an actor going to a paid seminar, hoping to make a good impression and passing on a Pic and Resume…knowing this isn’t an audition for a job…but hoping to get one?

    If Mr. Trutanitch wants to shut down the casting workshops, then he should shut down the L.A. Convention Center, too. It is obviously a cesspool of corruption.

  4. AlexK says

    The law is not shutting down casting workshops people. It is only regulating them. David, in your statement above you mentioned the scenario of the CEO being paid to speak, etc. They were being paid to educated and the networking was icing on the cake for the person who attended the seminar.

    However, some of these workshops don’t provide an education for the actors. You simply go in, audition for the CD, they jot down a few notes and that’s it. That’s an audition my friend. In contrast, if a CD does have a Q&A, takes time with the actors and gives adjustments and teaches them something, that is more than just an audition. And that is what this law is protecting us against— just paying someone to audition for them.

    And as far as headshots go, it is not going to make or break your chances of creating a relationship with the CD whether or not they can leave with your headshot. If they liked your work, they will remember you or at least jot down your name. And it is up to you to follow-up with them and continue to develop the relationship. Do you really think they keep most of those headshots anyway? If they like your work, they will remember you, regardless.

  5. kb says

    We expect these clowns to understand and enforce the law and they can’t even spell the name of our city correctly in their own signature? I’m just having to laugh at them. That’s it; just laugh.

  6. David H. Lawrence XVII says

    I agree with you on the content of the workshop, and have stated all over the site, that all parties should adhere to standards regarding the educational nature of the workshop, but not necessarily for the reasons you list. I couldn’t disagree with you more on the headshot rule (whIch I’m actually having difficulty finding language in the law, and am asking for clarification from Mark Lambert) – those are essential in them remembering us, and they should be affirmatively allowed to retain them in their files. For non-union and non-represented actors, CDs would be hard pressed to be electronically reminded of them as they would be nowhere to be found on Breakdown Services. In addition, we assert that in general, headshots should not be used as a weapon against actors in an attempt to test the nature of the workshop – even in free workshops, which are also auditions in every sense of the word, they are allowed to give headshots to the CD specifically to remind the CD of their skills.

  7. Matt Crabtree says

    What a ridiculous law. First of all if you are too stupid to get scammed then isn’t that weeding out the people who shouldn’t be in this business to begin with?
    An audition is when you are invited in to meet with a Casting Representative, Producer, Director. I go to workshops to learn about a specific casting office, so when I do go in for an audition I have more information in my arsenal. Knowledge is power. My picture and resume in technically my business card. I always have many of them with me at all times. Just because they do not fit into my back pocket (and some people have business cards with their picture on them – is that illegal to? Say I go to a bar to have a drink, I see a casting director there, buy them a drink and then give them my card with a picture and contact info on it, with my website address – isn’t that technically the same thing that you are trying to prevent?) doesn’t mean that they are not a business tool and that I shouldn’t be able to hand them out to as many professionals as I can in the right circumstance.

  8. David O'Hara says

    As much as I dislike paying to be seen by casting Directors, acting is like any other business – it cost money to get your ‘brand’ out there to in order to SELL your services. Sometimes there are as many as 1,500 people vying for one role and the CD has a couple of days to select a few good choices for the producers to pick to pick THE ONE person for that role. All the workshops are “learning experiences” even if I am honestly only there to show off my wares. I have been a ‘reader’ sitting on the casting director’s side of the table and observed that most of the actors are not ready to work professionally. Maybe they are the ones complaining that they don’t get called in to read for actual parts. If you got nothing worth buying – don’t complain when you can’t sell it. My complaint is against the workshops that are only in it for the money and let people who can’t act shoot themselves in the foot in front of CDs who are used to seeing the best in town. They remember bad performances as well as good performances.

  9. Concerned in LA says

    Yes in a perfect world it would be nice but here in Los Angeles. Hardly NO jobs, all these nasty people on street or looking like homeless if they are not. Especially by Venice Beach, Marina Del Rey, etc. and HOLLYWood. These CASTING directors namely ABCasting are running SCAMS. they charge 60 to be on site and to AUDITION for shows that have names that confuse people. They set up the auditions at their office and make you think it is super big budget turns out most are DAVID CHAPPA films for Latino Community ONLY. They need MOSTLY spanish or spanish speaking they pay in CASH daily from 20 to 100. Ok no problem but WHERE is SAG when we complained?? They said ABCASTING has all their paperwork. So basically it is ok for them to say they are shooting JOshua Tree or Paranomal which is actually Office Paranormal nothing to do with the other shows on TV at all. WEBISODES under SAG INdie contracts going directly to Netflix or Blocbuster. Ok no problem just tell us and do not charge 60 and then threaten to call police when people ask if you are doing a tv show or movie. If you ask to many questions those mobsters who have some real dirty tactics they act and look like Gangsters. They threaten you. But they also offer these FREE workshops where they try to SCAMMM you for pictures, website fees, and classes.

  10. The New Law Stinks! says

    I stumbled onto this site as an actor friend of mine was just told that he could not give the CD a headshot at a workshop. HUH??

    I am not an attorney but it appears as if the headshot rule is a part of this law (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_1301-1350/ab_1319_bill_20091011_chaptered.html). I found the following passage:
    (g) “Talent listing service” means a person who, for a fee from,
    or on behalf of, an artist, provides or offers to provide, or
    advertises or represents itself as providing, an artist, directly or
    by referral to another person, with any of the following:
    (1) A list of one or more auditions or employment opportunities.
    (2) A list of talent agents or talent managers, including an
    associate, representative, or designee thereof.
    (3) A search, or providing the artist with the ability to perform
    a self-directed search, of any database for an audition or employment
    opportunity, or a database of talent agents or talent managers, or
    an associate, representative, or designee thereof.
    (4) Storage or maintenance for distribution or disclosure to a
    person represented as offering an audition or employment opportunity,
    or to a talent agent, talent manager, or an associate,
    representative, or designee of a talent agent or talent manager, of
    either of the following: (A) an artist’s name, photograph, Internet
    Web site, filmstrip, videotape, audition tape, demonstration reel,
    resume, portfolio, or other reproduction or promotional material of
    the artist or (B) an artist’s schedule of availability for an
    audition or employment opportunity.

    In addition, The Casting Society of America is representing the law as such, where on completing the workshop, the Casting Director or Casting Associate must return the headshot back to the actor (see page 5: http://cricketfeet.com/temp/showfax/CSAguidelinesforCDworkshopsMay2010.pdf).

    Any attorneys out there that can provide clariffication?

  11. The New Law Stinks! says

    OK, here is that second link again asit did not post correctly: http://cricketfeet.com/temp/showfax/CSAguidelinesforCDworkshopsMay2010.pdf

    Hope this one works.

  12. David H. Lawrence XVII says

    The part of the law you’re quoting has to do with services (Talent Listing Services) like Breakdown Services, Actors’ Access and Now Casting, not casting workshops.

  13. Thomas Jefferson says

    I seriously have to say this has to be one of the most idiotic LAW I have found for towards actors, CD and businesses. Why did any organization including SAG even spent their time or effort in supporting this “IDIOTIC” bill, why, why??? This lousy law will only make it difficult for actors, CD and business to to stay in business. This “Paul Krekorian” only made this bill to get fame for something of nothing. This new law is not only idiotic but it’s offending the actors of our intellegence. Actors! do you really want the city lawmakers to start running our show in how to stay in business! Unless you’re “A” class actors It’s tough enough to make a living with all the CRAP we are facing but for them to get involved in this petty issue such as workshops is just stupit. No wonder with these idiots we have for lawmakers and who we have trying to enforce these stupid law California is now facing bankrupsy. Start focusing on going after the real criminals you idiots!

  14. sean sellers says

    mark lambert from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office is a complete idiot trying to make a name for himself, obviously.
    These laws are all for show and for political motives. Come on. California is bankrupt but we’re worrying about further regulating this business? Every actor should be PISSED AS HELL AT SAG for supporting this. Actually actors should BOYCOTT SAG for doing this. Who are they? Our union? Really? Since when? SAG is also always coming up with new itmes to sell actors so who are they to talk? Geezzzzzz…. gimme me a break people!
    Maybe SAG should refund all of the union dues for any actors that don’t get jobs? Yeah, and then they’ll go bankrupt. We all may be better off.

  15. John F. McCormick says

    It’s overkill. What started out as a law to protect kids from the John Robert Powers scams of the world became this mess.

    The issue was that the “anti workshop” people were just more vocal when the law was being written. Laws are amended all the time. It’s up to a persistent, vocal group of “workshop supporters” to lobby the city/state heavily now to revise the language.

    At a professional level the law is wrong in that it keeps us from effectively networking with commonplace employment tools, i.e. head shots. It would be equal to the city/state saying that a musician could not give a demo tape to a record company or producer or a writer can submit spec scripts.

    They need to separate the ground rules into professional vs student/aspiring levels of talent services.

  16. jared stevens says

    This Mark Lambert dude apparantly has filed criminal charges against 2 companies under the new laws here in los angeles. well, looks like it’s time to put the law to the test….the constitutionality test. I think major areas of the law will be tossed. I reviewed the law on another website talking about this Lambert guy.
    I’m personally in ah that the county of los angeles actually has the resources to pursue these types of claims. I mean give me a break. I think we would all agree that cali has much better things to worry about. Modeling and acting companies charges fees to a bunch of wanna be’s? I agree 100% with this site’s opinions that there are major political motives here in play. Lambert, as well as Paul Krekorian (?) are obviously trying to make a name for themselves. Civil servants tend to do that. Hey, they have to try to justify why taxpapers are paying their salaries, right? The LA City Attorney’s Office is really filing some pretty ‘out there’ cases. Like I said, Cali is broke and we’re wasting time on cases like these? Hey, like another writer said, if a person is not happy with a business, go to Small Claims Court. Isn’t that what it’s for? Instead the City Attorney wish to waste taxpayers money. What has Cali become? a JOKE?
    More and more of us will be leaving Cali. Sad.

    Also, check out scooterfightscityhall.com
    Great website.

  17. thinkaboutit1st says

    seriously much needed. when i first moved here i must have gone to like 20 of these so called CASTING calls where you had to pay an so called imaging fee. Think about it.. many of those same casting directors and some are pretty popular they now only use FACEBOOK and they don’t even want actors coming to their offices. I think it was all a scam. to be honest with you

  18. Theo Morton says

    One does not pay to audition. Simple as that. It’s just wrong.
    You don’t pay for a regular job interview. You don’t pay to audition for an acting job. It’s WRONG.



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