FROM Gary Baum
Cracking down on pay-to-play auditions 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. However, paying to audition is illegal. Last year, Gary Baum of the Hollywood Reporter conducted an investigation into this practice , which has taken root in sessions known as casting workshops. 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.
The Problems With Pay for Play While film actors still go to traditional auditions to score roles, they’re increasingly trying out in so-called workshops put on by casting directors. On any given day of the week, hundreds pay an entrance fee to hear some tips and be seen by casting directors. These aren’t billed as auditions because it’s illegal to ask actors to pay to audition. But that’s what’s happening, according to a story in the Hollywood Reporter .
A Battle Over the Hollywood Sign Back in 1923, a real estate company erected a huge sign in the Hollywood Hills. It advertised parcels of real estate called “Hollywoodland.” Now, the “land” is gone from the sign, which has become an international landmark. But for some nearby residents, the Hollywood sign is just a magnet for noisy, destructive tourists. We get up to speed on the controversy over access to it.
Hollywood’s Vaccine Wars Politics. Religion. Money. And now you can add another topic to the list of things to avoid in polite conversation: Vaccinations. The number of people choosing not to vaccinate their children continues to rise, especially in the tonier communities of West L.A. and Hollywood. But the trend has health experts worried, especially as cases of whooping cough and measles climb throughout California.
What the shooting at North Park Elementary means for San Bernardino In San Bernardino yesterday, two people were killed after a man opened fire in a classroom for special-needs kids. What does this say about a city that saw a 41 percent increase in murders between 2015 and 2016? Also, how do kids who witness school shootings cope emotionally?
Cambodians and fried chicken, baby pureés, vegan baking tips Frank Shyong explains how Cambodians got into LA’s fried chicken game. Clara Polito shares vegan baking tips from her new book, and Leena Saini says boost the flavor of your baby’s food with spices. Martha Rose Shulman talks up a nifty kitchen gadget that will take your produce for a spin, and Jonathan Gold does lamb barbacoa at Maestro in Pasadena. Plus, a closer look at how bees make honey and wasps pollinate figs.
Elif Batuman: The Idiot Selin, the heroine of Batuman’s autobiographical first novel, The Idiot, is an 18-year-old Harvard freshman of Turkish-American descent. Set in 1995, the novel observes the rise of internet culture.
With first DREAMer deported, what's the future of DACA? The first DREAMer has been deported since Donald Trump took office. That’s according to a lawsuit filed in San Diego on behalf of Juan Manuel Montes, who has DACA status. Border agents picked him up in Calexico in February. He was deported after he wasn’t able to produce an I.D.