Posted: Sun., Dec. 29, 2002
Calif. casts a spell
State, acting workshops reach deal
By DAVE MCNARY
The state of California has reached agreement with a group of seven
actor workshops on new rules to clamp down on the controversial
practice of "pay to audition" workshops, in which actors pay to be seen
by casting directors.
The agreement with the Actors Workshop Consortium -- which includes ITA
Prods., Actorsite, Reel Pros, Casting Network, Aaron Spieser Acting
Casting Break and One On One -- comes a month after California Labor
Commissioner Arthur Lujan reached a similar accord with the six members
of the Los Angeles Actor Workshop Coalition.
In both cases the workshop operators have signed off on a set of
guidelines making operators liable for lawsuits if they are found to be
taking unfair advantage of thesps. Agreements are in the form of a
stipulation for declaratory judgment, giving the regulations the weight
of state law.
Lujan's office stunned the industry in February by asserting that over
a dozen L.A. workshops were violating state laws banning payment to
apply for employment. The office issued cease-and-desist orders to
those operators, prompting loud complaints from the workshops about
state intrusion into a practice that has been long supported by actors.
Many of those workshop operators have signed the stipulation although
advocates of strict state enforcement maintain the guidelines do not go
far enough in
preventing the practice of charging actors for access to casting
directors. The key new rules bar workshop providers from permitting
casting directors to use material from roles they are currently casting
and from offering workshops consisting solely of cold readings.
In another development, Lujan's office faces a legal challenge to its
authority to enforce the state law on the workshops. Bob Stewart,
representing the L.A.
Actors Online service, filed a court petition last week for a writ of
Susan Gard, a spokeswoman for Lujan's office, said the state is
attempting to convince other workshop operators to sign the
stipulation. "We are not there yet in terms of signing up all the
workshops because this a brand new set of regulations, but we certainly
plan to do so once a reasonable amount of time has passed," she added.
Other new state rules require that attendees sign a disclaimer stating
that workshops are not job interviews or auditions, while operators
must discuss the disclaimers at the start of each class; that workshops
provide instruction of an educational nature; that if a cold reading is
included in the workshop, critiques and other feedback be provided;
that instructors be qualified either by being members of the Casting
Society of America or by having 18 months experience as a casting
director, associate or assistant; and that operators may not use
testimonials about the success of workshops in getting acting work.
© 2002 Reed Business Information © 2002