Cracking down on pay-to-play auditions & a bonus Oscars banter
After an investigation by reporter Gary Baum, the LA city attorney has filed charges against more than two dozen people involved with casting workshops that are allegedly paid auditions for minor roles. Baum tells us how these workshops became so prevalent, and casting director Billy DaMota explains his longstanding opposition to the practice. Plus, one last look at the major Oscar races.
If you're an aspiring actor, you may have paid to attend casting workshops that were supposed to be educational, but really just offered very quick auditions for very minor roles. The casting workshop business has made millions of dollars, but it turns out that paying for an audition is illegal and now the LA city attorney is cracking down on the practice. Reporter Gary Baum talks about his investigation that recently led to the filing of criminal charges, and veteran casting director Billy DaMota explains his longstanding opposition to these pay-to-play auditions. Then the Hollywood Reporter's awards analyst Scott Feinberg tells us how likely it is that La La Land will sweep the Oscars.
Matt Belloni, editorial director of the Hollywood Reporter, joins Kim Masters to discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.
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In La La Land, Emma Stone plays aspiring actress Mia, who finds herself demoralized as she faces one failed audition after another.
What the movie doesn't show is something that has gone on for years in the real La La Land -- aspiring actors like Mia scraping together $50 or so to get a quick audition for a minor role in a film or TV show. It might be a network show like Criminal Minds or Big Bang Theory -- and with luck, you might get one line, but it could move you closer to getting SAG membership.
These workshops are supposed to be educational, teaching actors how to audition, but Baum tells us, "In practical terms, it is really just an audition." And not just any audition -- one that you're paying money for -- often $50 a pop. If you go a couple times a month, it can cost well over $1000 a year, which is a lot of money if your main gig is a barista or waiter.
It might seem sensible to say, "If you don't have the money, simply don't go to the workshops." But Baum found that the workshops had become so pervasive and commonplace, they had become the cornerstone of how a struggling actor breaks into the industry.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed criminal charges for the first time ever against this practice, naming 25 people involved in running five alleged pay-to-play workshops.
We reached out to several of those facing charges but none responded to our requests for comment. We did see an email, sent to clients by one of the casting workshop operators charged by the city attorney. It said its practices are legal and that actors should be free to spend their money as they see fit.
We sat down with Baum to learn more about his investigation and what possibly happens next, and with casting director Billy DaMota, who tells us why he has been long-opposed to pay-to-play casting workshops.
Scott Feinberg from the Hollywood Reporter tells us just what happened last night when Faye Dunaway announced the wrong best picture winner, and no one fixed the situation until two La La Land producers had already given speeches. The fact the Moonlight won best picture is historic in itself, but for the moment, the win feels overshadowed by the biggest flub in Oscars' history.