California Cracks Down on Audition Workshops
 
     Mon Oct 14, 2002
     By Dave McNary

     HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - The state of California is clamping down on the practice of "pay
     to audition" workshops, in which actors pay to be seen.

     California Labor Commissioner Arthur Lujan is ready to announce a new set of guidelines making
     workshop operators liable for lawsuits if they're found to be taking unfair advantage of thesps. Lujan
     is finalizing an agreement to spell out legal operating guidelines.

     He plans to announce as early as this week that workshop operators have agreed to the rules,
     which are in the form of a stipulation for declaratory judgement -- i.e., the regulations are designed
     to have the weight of state law.

     Lujan had proposed last month that workshop operators sign a consent decree, but spokeswoman
     Susan Gard said the switch was made to give more weight to the potential punishment. "Our
     thinking is that the threat of a suit is stronger than a contempt-of-court order," she added. Lujan's
     office stunned the industry in February by asserting the "pay to audition" practice was in violation of
     state law that bans payment in exchange for applying for employment. The state then issued
     cease-and-desist orders to more than a dozen Los Angeles workshop operators.

     Workshop operators and casting directors have complained over government intrusion; they
     contend that the practice is valuable because it enlightens actors about the audition process and
     networking. They also issued proposals such as announcing explicitly that the workshops do not
     represent a guarantee of employment.

     But advocates of strict state enforcement alleged the proposals do not go far enough and would
     allow workshops to remain in violation of the law by charging actors for access to casting directors.

     Details of the stipulation were not available. But the agreement is likely to include several key
     provisions that were part of last month's proposed consent decree:

     = Casting directors attending workshops will be unable to take actors' pictures and resumes from
     the workshop.

     = Workshop attendees will be required to sign a disclaimer stating that workshops are intended as
     educational opportunities only.

     = Casting directors who choose to attend workshops will be required to submit a written curriculum
     to be kept on file and be made available to all workshop attendees upon request.

     = If cold reading training is included as a part of the workshop, significant individual
     feedback,critique and performance adjustment must be provided for each actor attending a
     workshop by the casting guest.

     = Workshop may not include in any advertising the use of testimonials about the success of
     workshops in getting interviews, auditions, callbacks or acting work.

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