Los Angeles is known as the "Entertainment Capital" of the World. The dream of making it big in Show Business continues to lure thousands of actors, dancers and singers to LA...this includes parents and their kids. Being discovered at Swab's drugstore or now getting on "American Idol" reinforces the myth of instant stardom. Department of Consumer Affairs, the Better Business Bureau and other consumer protection agencies all report a serious rise in complaints regarding talent service scams between 2006 - 2009. Reports show that in Southern California alone there have been over 143,000 inquires about suspected talent scams. That can calculate to millions of dollars being stolen by unscrupulous talent businesses. Working in the NoHo Arts District which some people call the movie studios' 'Talent Pool," we hear many horror stories about young performers and uninformed parents with child performers being financially and emotionally devastated.
In 2009, Paul Krekorian while in the State Assembly with strong support from the entertainment industry giants such as Walt Disney Co., the Motion Picture Association of America, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild passed Assembly Bill 1319 into law on Jan 1, 2010. City attorney Carmen Trutanich sent letters to talent management services that this law had been passed along with a copy of the new law. The law prohibits talent services from engaging in the business of talent representation and charging money upfront for the promise of securing jobs. The law addresses fraudulent advertising practices by requiring that talent services claiming to hold "auditions" or claiming that successful artists have used their service maintain supporting proof that the claims are true and make the supporting proof available to law enforcement for inspection and copying. Talent services must also maintain records identifying the "talent scouts" they employ. Also, very contract with an artist must provide conspicuous notice of cancellation and refund procedures, and prohibits automatic renewal of terms without the artist's affirmative assent. It also requires talent services post a $50,000 bond with the Labor Commissioner.
Since the beginning of 2011, the City attorney has gone after several talent services for non compliance with this law. Most recent, David Askaryar of Hollywood Stars Management and VIP Talent has been charged with 16 violations of the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009. Mr. Askaryar was sentenced to 36 months of summary probation on the condition that he shut down the businesses and not to own, operate or be employed in any talent agency business, talent management business or any talent service. Failing to comply with these contditions will result in a six month jail sentence said the City Attorney's Office.
We spoke with 20 year veteran talent manager, Maureen Creigh of MMC Entertainment about fraudulent practices in the talent management field and she simply stated "Charging upfront fees as a manager has always been unethical." Spoke with several other talent managers and agents and they agree with Maureen that stealing someone's money through false promises has always been unethical and now there are laws regulating these practices. One long time talent agent who refers to remain anonymous gave me this piece of wisdom....When you hear the following words....RUN "I CAN and WILL make you a star. but if you're not willing to invest in yourself, then don't expect me to. Just make the check payable in Cash."
We spoke with City Councilmember Paul Krekorian...
“The Talent Scam Prevention Act, which I wrote and passed while a member of the State Assembly, has proved to be invaluable for local prosecutors,” Councilmember Paul Krekorian said. “The act provides the tools they need to go after fraud artists who prey on children and others who are lured by promises of stardom and fame. I applaud the tremendous work of the City Attorney’s Office – and especially Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert – for once again helping to protect our most vulnerable residents and restoring hope to those whose dreams were swindled away
Check out www.bizparentz.org
- detailed info and good resources for parents http://www.bizparentz.org/entertainmentlaws/advancefeetalent.html