Thursday, May 19, 2011

California, Los Angeles Crack Down on Extras Casting Ripoffs

This press release was sent "from the Office of the City Attorney, Carmen A. Trutanich:

The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office and the State Labor Commissioner this week sent a joint letter to Central Casting of Burbank, California, the entertainment industry's largest background casting business, advising it to cease and desist from charging or collecting any fee from background actors in violation of the State’s labor laws.

In an effort to achieve industry-wide compliance, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich also sent similar warning letters to 13 other companies doing business in the City of Los Angeles which supply background actors for film and television.

Recently enacted State Labor Code section 1702.1 prohibits talent services from charging fees to background actors -- commonly known as “extras” -- for registration, photo processing and other services in exchange for finding them work. Also, long-established state law prohibits any employer from requiring a job applicant or employee to pay a fee or consideration of any type to apply for a job or to process a job application.

Responding to complaints by background actors, the City Attorney’s undercover investigation found that Central Casting charges applicants a cash-only $25 “photographic/electronic image” fee, regardless of whether the applicant actually receives work, and that other casting companies collect fees ranging from $15 to $80. According to a 2008 press story linked to its own website, Central Casting registers 500 new background actors per week for jobs that typically pay minimum wage for 12-hour workdays.

“The Labor Commissioner’s office is committed to enforcing all of California’s labor laws. This includes ensuring actors are not required to pay a fee which the law prohibits,” said Labor Commissioner Julie Su. “An employer that requires a mandatory fee from actors applying for work as background performers in the entertainment industry violates this important rule.”

If found in violation, the background casting companies and their agents, directors and employees could be subject to misdemeanor prosecution with a maximum penalty for each offense of one year in jail and a fine of $10,000.

Failure to fully comply with state law also constitutes an unlawful business practice subject to injunctive relief, full restitution, and a $2,500 penalty for each violation.

The City Attorney’s office has previously sent letters to the talent service industry notifying them of the new regulations under the 2009 Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act that went into effect January 1, 2010. Letters were also sent through a mass mailing to casting directors instructing them not to aid and abet violations of the law by casting workshops which charge actors to audition.


Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, Public Information Office (213) 978-8340

Labor Commissioner, Erika Monterroza (415) 703-5279

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