• Report: #323334

Complaint Review: HOLLYWOOD CASTING, GO HOLLYWOOD CASTING.COM, FRANCOIS MAALOUF

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  • Submitted: Thu, April 03, 2008
  • Updated: Fri, September 07, 2012

  • Reported By:Los Angeles California
HOLLYWOOD CASTING, GO HOLLYWOOD CASTING.COM, FRANCOIS MAALOUF
11135 Magnolia Blvd, #C120 North Hollywood, California U.S.A.

HOLLYWOOD CASTING, GO HOLLYWOOD CASTING.COM, FRANCOIS MAALOUF ABSOLUTE SCAM, DO NOT SUBJECT YOUR CHILDREN TO THIS PLACE!! North Hollywood California

*Consumer Comment: Update - The scammers got Busted ! Justice Finally ! David Askaryar pleads no contest

*Consumer Comment: Oh David

*Consumer Comment: No, Jesse Is Right

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: In response to "Jesse"

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First, I just have to say to everyone who reads this: A LEGITIMATE talent representative (manager, agent, etc) will Never, Never, Never take ANY money from you unless it is a commission for a job you have already been paid for. That's it, end of story.

PICTURE THEY PAINT:
Here is my experience with this wretched place. Now, the picture they paint is very deceptive, from minute one they put off an air of legitimacy. Even I was slightly disarmed by this: It started with the fact that their office is strategically located in the office buildings that surround the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It makes you first think, "well, if this was a "chop shop" operation they'd be in some sleazy office in some dark alley." Don't buy it.

Then, you walk in: they may say they represent adults, but they absolutely cater to children. This place has BARRELS of candy everywhere you look! Not only that, but in the back is seriously a craft services-type spread. (FYI: craft services is essentially the food service on a movie or television set.) They had everything you could imagine, donuts, muffins, croissants, pretzels, snack mix, anything you wanted to drink, candy, candy and more candy. Even I was blown away. The offices are fairly nicely appointed with flat panel tvs in every direction (I think I counted 5 or 6 in the waiting room alone), movie posters lining the walls (trust me, these people had nothing to do with ANY movie they have on their walls).

My first tinge of "something's not right" came after we had been sitting in the waiting room when I really paid attention to the men that were working there. Kind of a rough and tumble bunch that just tried to clean up nicely. I would never in a million years leave my child alone with these people, nor would I ever want to be alone with them!

Then came the "callback" meeting: she read, as it seems all of the children do, the GAP commercial and FRANCOIS MAALOUF decided to sign her up! Yay, how exciting for any child, who is hopped up on sugar and feeling on top of the world. Now, this whole time they make very sure to try to disarm you by telling you everything they are not, like the good little con artists they are, they tell you they are not con artists. That they never take any money from you, they will provide you with headshots, videos, website, workshops, agent showcases, ALL FOR FREE! Then, oops, they mention oh, by the way, you have to pay for your page on our website. See, they give each "client" their own url, like you're actually paying for a separate webpage but it's on their website. They tell you, "Oh no no no, You are not paying us this money, this is money paid to the "service provider" we have nothing to do with it." OF COURSE THEY DO, if they had nothing to do with it then it wouldn't be a requirement of the "service" they provide you.

MONEY
How much money are we talking about? A one-year contract - "for your webpage" will cost you a one-time set up fee of $650, then $40 per month after that, then 49.99 every six months to update your page, then they charge you a cancellation fee of $150 if you cancel it within the year. So signing up with them will set you back AT LEAST $1,230 for the year. Like the other people have said, Francois will try to "work with you" on the initial $650 if you can't afford to pay it upfront.

When we questioned him on this he became increasingly agitated and started talking faster and faster. Finally, when his legitimacy was called into question he became belligerent and tried to throw us out of his office, throwing the child's headshot across his desk and saying get out of here I don't want to represent her, I will not represent someone when the people around her do not support her! It was surreal and quite traumatic for the child we were with.

CONTRACT
Needless to say, we did not sign this contract, however, I did review it in his office. It was a very short one-page services agreement, it had a one-year representation clause and they take a 15% commission. The standard commission for most talent agents and managers is usually 10%, however, 15% is not unheard of. Here is the real problem in the folder of information they provide to you is a packet from KIDS! Background Talent. It is my understanding that KIDS! is a legitimate background/extra management company for children. It appears that they are the children's arm of Central Casting, the leading company in the industry for background and extras casting.

Anyway, Francois told us that we would need to fill out these forms for KIDS! as well, making it sound like she would just need to do this to get some background work, etc in order to get her SAG card. Well, after we left and I reviewed these forms more closely, I saw that this is a totally separate service, in fact, KIDS! is another management company. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? It means that if we did everything he told us to do, we would be signed with essentially TWO management companies. One, a legitimate company, KIDS! who would do all of the work and Two, Hollywood Casting, a parasitic leach. We would end up paying 20% to KIDS!, according to the information we received, and 15% to the leach. This is a total of 35% commission!

Very long story short, don't even set foot in this place. They should be shut down and prosecuted for deceptive and predatory business practices.

Jesse
Los Angeles, California
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/03/2008 08:59 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/HOLLYWOOD-CASTING-GO-HOLLYWOOD-CASTINGCOM-FRANCOIS-MAALOUF/North-Hollywood-California-91601/HOLLYWOOD-CASTING-GO-HOLLYWOOD-CASTINGCOM-FRANCOIS-MAALOUF-ABSOLUTE-SCAM-DO-NOT-SUBJEC-323334. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

Update - The scammers got Busted ! Justice Finally ! David Askaryar pleads no contest

AUTHOR: DH - (United States of America)

Operators of talent service companies charged Los Angeles cracks down on talent management scams. David Askaryar of Hollywood Stars Management and VIP Talent Web and Ricardo Macias of ActorsOnSet.com face more than a dozen charges each.January 13, 2011

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/13/business/la-fi-ct-crackdown-20110113

Posted: Wed., Jan. 12, 2011, 12:33pm PT  LA alleges 'pay to audition' scams First cases filed under Kerkorian law

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118030147?refCatId=13

Posted: Fri., Apr. 8, 2011, 3:01am PT  Askaryar admits to Krekorian Act violations Talent manager pleads no contest

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118035189

Plea Deal in L.A. Talent-Scam Case
By Daniel Holloway
Posted April 7, 2011, 11:20 p.m

http://www.backstage.com/news/plea-deal-in-la-talent-scam-case/

Crackdown On Talent-Scamming Continues
By Nellie Andreeva - www.deadline.com
Crackdown On Talent-Scamming Continues: Fourth LA Talent Manager Charged

(((link redacted)))

CLICK here to see why Rip-off Report, as a matter of policy, deleted either a phone number, link or e-mail address from this Report.
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#2 Consumer Comment

Oh David

AUTHOR: Tmm33 - (U.S.A.)

I think the cute symbols when you are "from" Hollywood , should be null and void. This just furthers the craziness of the entire , most wonderful, (trying to make it that its not true) paragraph that the above stated wrote. Looks like your not really here in the United States. You know that one place where people actually take care of their children to make sure they are not getting used and abused for some "extras" in a so called movie, commercial, ect.

I am not racists by any means but your statements looked like they were by someone who was paid to make a rebuttal. You failed...Try again...
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#3 Consumer Comment

No, Jesse Is Right

AUTHOR: Rachel - (U.S.A.)

I myself went into that exact same company. They did want those fees, and I backed out because my best friend WHOSE PARENTS ARE IN THE INDUSTRY told me that was a big red warning flag. These people should be paying you! Sure, maybe you pay for classes at worst, but the photographs would be free in a real company.

Also, when I went, my "future manager" screwed up and had to cover. He went into somebody's account on that website and pulled up the jobs she was being offered. Note that this girl was fairly tall, slim, pale as a ghost, and had red hair and green eyes, probably in her mid-teens. The offer requirements ranged from 5-year-old Asian boys to 30-year-old black women. He covered by saying it was an example page. Just before he told me it was a real page of a real client.

Furthermore, these people take anybody! I auditioned with a huge group of kids of all ages, and I was one of the best, which is weird considering I'm a mediocre actress at best. Some of the little kids, including one who simply went up, stared at the camera, and began to cry, were ther when I went in for my callback. Why woudl a real casting agency waste their time like that?

Don't bother with these people. Seriously.
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#4 REBUTTAL Owner of company

In response to "Jesse"

AUTHOR: David - (U.S.A.)

Wow, where do I start? Should I start with the obvious contradictions in this so-called report? Maybe I should start with the false accusations, and ask Jesse to prove his claims? I can also point out the clearly stated bigotry. Well I guess there are so many falsehoods, inaccuracies, blatant non-truths and obvious prejudices that I need to go paragraph by paragraph so my message is clear.

I will agree however, that Jesse does write a good story regardless of his inaccuracies. He does paint a terrible picture and is obviously an intelligent, eloquent person with literary skills. Nonetheless, his story is pure fiction, albeit a quality fictitious piece.

In order to clarify I will cut and paste his report and answer all.

Jesse
PICTURE THEY PAINT:
Here is my experience with this wretched place. Now, the picture they paint is very deceptive, from minute one they put off an air of legitimacy. Even I was slightly disarmed by this: It started with the fact that their office is strategically located in the office buildings that surround the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It makes you first think, 'well, if this was a 'chop shop' operation they'd be in some sleazy office in some dark alley.' Don't buy it.

HWC
I like this paragraph. It is truly well written but contradictory in nature. Are we a wretched place or are we fairly nicely appointed? These are your words, but obviously contradictory. It is obvious that this paragraph is basically fluff to enhance your point. It also shows that you came with the attitude, and were completely predisposed in your opinion, that this is going to be a chop shop. How fair were you in this predetermined assessment?

Jesse
Then, you walk in: they may say they represent adults, but they absolutely cater to children. This place has BARRELS of candy everywhere you look! Not only that, but in the back is seriously a craft services-type spread. (FYI: craft services is essentially the food service on a movie or television set.) They had everything you could imagine, donuts, muffins, croissants, pretzels, snack mix, anything you wanted to drink, candy, candy and more candy. Even I was blown away. The offices are fairly nicely appointed with flat panel tvs in every direction (I think I counted 5 or 6 in the waiting room alone), movie posters lining the walls (trust me, these people had nothing to do with ANY movie they have on their walls).

HWC
I am truly at a loss to why this is mentioned!? I have never known children to drink Lattes, cappuccinos, coffee, caf Americano, etc. The only drink for the children is water!? Is a craft service only for children? So, you are claiming the croissants are intended for the kids. Well OK, if that is your opinion but it surely isn't ours. We do have candy and donuts although I am sure that, the parents who bring their children are in complete control and would never let their children have more than they approve of. In fact, we happen to trust the parents coming in and are confident that our welcome gifts are not to their demise. Jesse, can you please explain how this is wrong? Or how you know about the posters on the wall? How about showing us, where having movie posters in an office that deals with the entertainment industry is wrong. Please substantiate your claim! If you are interested in being trusted, as you requested, please back up your claims!

Jesse
My first tinge of 'something's not right' came after we had been sitting in the waiting room when I really paid attention to the men that were working there. Kind of a rough and tumble bunch that just tried to clean up nicely. I would never in a million years leave my child alone with these people, nor would I ever want to be alone with them!

HWC
You must be kidding right?! First, your insinuation is disgusting to say the least. Second, I as a parent would never leave my child alone with anybody, ever! Unless, that is of course, I knew them well! Realistically though, how prejudiced can you be? That is one of the most bigoted statements anyone has ever leveled at us. a rough and tumble bunch who just tried to clean up nicely. If you are referring to the gentleman, with the tattoos, then you are way off the mark he is a father of eight, successful, educated and a published author. Sorry if his tattoos offend you, please keep in mind that this is America, and we love Diversity! Maybe you are referring to the Mediterranean Gentleman who struggled his way through oppression for the first three-quarters of his life and after overcoming almost insurmountable odds became a success (a tribute to the American dream). His years of struggle show on his face and maybe he isn't as comfortable as you are in a suit, but he does try, and deserves the respect of his position. Again, we are sorry if his appearance is offensive to you, but we hazard to say most in American society are a little fairer and have minds that are more open. We believe everybody deserves the respect and an opportunity, it's a shame that you obviously do not. Please keep in mind that we would never, never, expect nor would we want any parent to leave their child unattended. Your sentiment of not wanting to be alone with us reinforces the fact that your thoughts and opinions are tainted and prejudicial.

Jesse
Then came the 'callback' meeting: she read, as it seems all of the children do, the GAP commercial and FRANCOIS MAALOUF decided to sign her up! Yay, how exciting for any child, who is hopped up on sugar and feeling on top of the world. Now, this whole time they make very sure to try to disarm you by telling you everything they are not, like the good little con artists they are, they tell you they are not con artists. That they never take any money from you, they will provide you with headshots, videos, website, workshops, agent showcases, ALL FOR FREE! Then, oops, they mention oh, by the way, you have to pay for your page on our website. See, they give each 'client' their own url, like you're actually paying for a separate webpage but it's on their website. They tell you, 'Oh no no no, You are not paying us this money, this is money paid to the 'service provider' we have nothing to do with it.' OF COURSE THEY DO, if they had nothing to do with it then it wouldn't be a requirement of the 'service' they provide you.

HWC
Let's start with the GAP commercial, it is old and well known. The reason it is still in use, is that almost everybody has read or heard it before. We do not want the client to be caught up on the memorization of the lines but to show their personalities. Sign her up does that mean she was selected? And, are you the parent that couldn't control your child and let her get hopped up or maybe you are judging your friends parenting ability and disapprove? Is this where you started making your accusations Con Artists? After years in this industry I have never been called a con artist and have never had it brought up during conversation. This leads me to believe it was in answer to your accusations. This proves the earlier point of you having a predisposed opinion that you were never able to get past. It also shows how your prejudicial thoughts provoke others sensitivities. Headshots We do not provide Headshots and have never offered to, please substantiate this claim of yours. We definitely do pay for photography, provide workshops, and showcase our talent. Can you please show me how this is a negative? None of our clients has ever paid us for any of it. Now let's talk about the web set up, and recurring fee. This does not come to us but does go to the servicing company. Where is your receipt can you show me who's account it settles in. Jesse please provide proof!
This is a hugely competitive industry, from experience it is difficult, at best, to be seen. The web url gives our clients a step up on the competition. Since we do pay for photography, workshops, and the showcases, it is not too much to expect the client or their parents to show they are as committed as we are, to their own success. Do you know how many times we have paid for everything? Then when the child was called for the audition, they chose to not show. Do you realize how this makes us look to those casting for the project, and how costly it can become? We firmly believe that those paying part of their way will be much more accountable and are truly interested in all of our successes.

Jesse
MONEY
How much money are we talking about? A one-year contract - 'for your webpage' will cost you a one-time set up fee of $650, then $40 per month after that, then 49.99 every six months to update your page, then they charge you a cancellation fee of $150 if you cancel it within the year. So signing up with them will set you back AT LEAST $1,230 for the year. Like the other people have said, Francois will try to 'work with you' on the initial $650 if you can't afford to pay it upfront.

HWC
Wow, Jesse your exaggerations are rampant in this last paragraph. The hosting company does charge a set up fee of $650 and a monthly recurring fee of $40 starting the second month. That equals $1,090 in 12 months. We have been known to pay all of these costs in some cases, it all depends on how marketable we feel the potential Client is. There is no $49.99 fee and never has been. The cancellation fee is $100 dollars, only if the hosting is canceled prior to the 12- month commitment. Your exaggeration of the numbers, which you cannot prove, is credence to your literary skill and your propensity toward misrepresentations. We also photograph all of our clients, a second time, after 6 months free of charge, this means that the client's expense is nominal in comparison to ours. But, let us pose this question; is an opportunity to have success in this industry worth $1,090? I am sure that all would say yes. Can you really fault someone who is paying much more than they are asking the client to pay when they go even further and set up convenient payments for the Client?

Jesse
When we questioned him on this he became increasingly agitated and started talking faster and faster. Finally, when his legitimacy was called into question he became belligerent and tried to throw us out of his office, throwing the child's headshot across his desk and saying get out of here I don't want to represent her, I will not represent someone when the people around her do not support her! It was surreal and quite traumatic for the child we were with.

HWC
Jesse was your question a real question or an unfounded accusation similar to all of your writings on this subject? Support from a peer group and parents are essential in this industry and we have learned that it is a waist of our time and money to sign with any one who may be talked out of it. Is the trauma the child experienced because of Francois or you leveling unfair accusations? Couldn't you have asked the child to step outside with one of the adults when you decided to call some ones integrity into question? Did we wrongfully expose the child to this trauma or did you?! On a side note, we sign less than 10% of the potential clients that walk through our doors. This means that your friend's daughter is extremely lucky!

Jesse
CONTRACT
Needless to say, we did not sign this contract, however, I did review it in his office. It was a very short one-page services agreement, it had a one-year representation clause and they take a 15% commission. The standard commission for most talent agents and managers is usually 10%, however, 15% is not unheard of. Here is the real problem in the folder of information they provide to you is a packet from KIDS! Background Talent. It is my understanding that KIDS! is a legitimate background/extra management company for children. It appears that they are the children's arm of Central Casting, the leading company in the industry for background and extras casting.

HWC
Is the real problem the fact that you didn't read the contract? If you did, you would obviously know that it is clearly stated that the Hollywood Casting commission contract pertains only to Hollywood Casting and that the Kids Background is a separate and unaffiliated company. We take no commission from any client that has procured work through Kids and Kids has never given us any kind of remuneration. Again, I ask you to prove your claim!!!!

Jesse
Anyway, Francois told us that we would need to fill out these forms for KIDS! as well, making it sound like she would just need to do this to get some background work, etc in order to get her SAG card. Well, after we left and I reviewed these forms more closely, I saw that this is a totally separate service, in fact, KIDS! is another management company. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? It means that if we did everything he told us to do, we would be signed with essentially TWO management companies. One, a legitimate company, KIDS! who would do all of the work and Two, Hollywood Casting, a parasitic leach. We would end up paying 20% to KIDS!, according to the information we received, and 15% to the leach. This is a total of 35% commission!

HWC
Parasitic Leach, How adult and professional of you to make that statement!?!? Obviously all that read your word choice will realize that your prejudices are uncontrolled and unfounded. Hopefully they will see how difficult it is to deal with someone so consumed by hate. Again, no money has ever been given us or paid to us from Kids. Please substantiate your hate-filled fallacies! We do include a Kids folder in our material that is handed to our clients, we also explain that this is an option if they are interested in pursuing extra or background work. We recognize the legitimacy of Kids and welcome our clients the opportunity. It is also clearly written on all of our handouts that we are a separate and unaffiliated company. Another clear contradiction is where you state that most only charge 10% but 15% is not unheard of, then you do acknowledge the 20% Kids charges while agreeing that they are legitimate. Please tell us why you made such a big deal of our 15% if it is OK to charge 20%! (Kids Background is a great company and I hesitate to use their name, I only speak of them in reference to your having brought them into this conversation)

Jesse
Very long story short, don't even set foot in this place. They should be shut down and prosecuted for deceptive and predatory business practices

HWC
The only true statement in your complete diatribe is the Long STORY I completely agree your STORY is a work of fiction. I do feel that since we can prove the legitimacy of our existence it should rest on you to prove any of your accusations!! I will be waiting.

On a Side note to Jesse, Slander and defamation of character are crimes. Please prove your statements or prepare to stand accountable!

Thank you

David Askaryar
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