• Report: #140687

Complaint Review: Central Casting, Extras! Management, Entertainment Partners

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  • Submitted: Wed, April 27, 2005
  • Updated: Tue, February 26, 2013

  • Reported By:Seattle Washington
Central Casting, Extras! Management, Entertainment Partners
220 S. Flower Street (between Olive & Alameda),Extras Management Across St From Central Casting, Burbank, CA 91502 Burbank, California U.S.A.

Central Casting, Extras! Management, Entertainment Partners Labor Racketeering, Bribery, Extortion, Fraud, ID Theft, Kickbacks, Threats, SAG voucher sales, Burbank California

*UPDATE Employee: I'm writing a tell-all about this and articles

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Retaliatory Termination of Vested Union Member

*Consumer Comment: I generally had a good experience

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Rampant violation of laws by Central Casting and Studios

*Author of original report: Central Casting/Extras Management Labor Racketeering: Allegations

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I worked for this company called Central Casting on and off for about 8 years doing SAG union and nonunion extra work on film/tv.

I also paid it's calling service(claims to be providing a "booking service" for actors doing background work) Extras! Management for several years to get booked on major film/tv productions.

Unfortunately, this company controls most of the extra work, both union and nonunion, in the film/tv industry. It uses this virtual monopoly on the supply of work to coerce under the table bribes out of actors on a regular basis and has set up a booking service that it controls called Extras Management to essentially force union actors to pay kickbacks to get any access to SAG extra work which can pay much more than nonunion(anywhere from $200 to $1000) per day.

They also have various schemes to cheat actors out of work like cheating on hiring the contracted number of union actors on sets, selling SAG vouchers on the blackmarket and through their calling service Extras Management(3 SAG vouchers are needed to join the union, so ther is a huge market to buy them illegally).

They also lost a lawsuit a few years ago for charging a 5% "agent" fee to nonunion extras(who only get paid minimum wage) which brought their wages under minimum wage. So they have a documented history of cheating actors.

I organized a major lawsuit against them a few years ago which is currently in progress charging them with the above allegations.

My goal is to get compensation from them for the substantial damages to my employment as a professional actor and to make sure the public is fully aware of how this company does business(this information does not get out often even though there illegal activity is pervasive because they blacklist and threaten and can shut off work to anyone like me who blows the whistle on them).

Also, I want anyone who is considering working in the industry to know the facts about how this company as well as the Studios take advantage of their control(essentially a practical oligopoly)of acting work, whether it be principal union or background, to defraud the unlimited supply of actors seeking work.

I already submitted a several page report to the Dept of Labor and hope that the more this gets out to the public the better chance future actors will have a chance of avoiding this massive racket against them.

Jon
Seattle, Washington
U.S.A.

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/27/2005 07:29 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Central-Casting-Extras-Management-Entertainment-Partners/Burbank-California-91502/Central-Casting-Extras-Management-Entertainment-Partners-Labor-Racketeering-Bribery-E-140687. 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.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
0Author 5Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE Employee

I'm writing a tell-all about this and articles

AUTHOR: CASSANDRA - (United States of America)

Hi there,

I'm currently writing a book, "Deep Background-Living Life As A Hollywood Extra" and a series of national articles. You can google my story on Huffington Post about Gangster Squad. Anyway, I would love to speak with anybody involved in a lawsuit against Central, Extras Management, SAG/AFTRA, etc. I know first hand about much of what is stated here but some of it is through the grapevine. And of course because actors will be blacklisted they don't want to go on the record. If someone is filing a lawsuit and is willing to go on the record, please contact me via my email address: cassandra_bellantoni@yahoo.com. Thanks, cB
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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Retaliatory Termination of Vested Union Member

AUTHOR: Abunai - (United States of America)

Hello!
And thanks for your reporting. I have an extensive experience and materials on dealing with these "people", and currently on the way to filing my own lawsuit against them "(Central Casting" and "affiliates"). Please, notify me ASAP if we can collaborate on this matter. I've been a vested union actor for over 12 years now, just to receive their "Employment At Will Termination" notice one not-so-bright afternoon, and after merely 12 years of impeccable reliable service to them with no complaints or any other grief..
I'm convinced it was done in retaliation to my complaining to the SAG Union leaders (over the last couple of years) for their ("Central Casting's") booking practices and all their extortion/manipulation hoopla!
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#3 Consumer Comment

I generally had a good experience

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

I live in Arizona, and grew up in So. Cal, and so I thought I would sign my son up for some 'extras' work so I could have an excuse to see my friends there, plus my parents live just NW of L.A. so I didnt have to worry about hotel costs. After lots of research,I signed him up with Extras! Management. He was 5 years old at the time. We knew noone that worked there personally.

All I had to do was be there for the initial seminar (don't expect anything luxurious) and paid a $35 filing fee, and either they would take a photo of my son (that was included with the fee) or I could provide one. I provided a pic I took a color photo of him with a cheap throw away camera and they were just fine with that.

We only were signed up for the first 6 months, and just got tired of the commute. But during that time I received constant paging all the time for film and tv show parts (all non speaking, but it was a start) for my son, and sometimes I would get an actual call for him to do a SAG job. We had to fly or drive out for jobs WHEN we decided we wanted to say 'Yes' to them, so it was pretty much a wash with money, well maybe not for me becuase I paid for the trip. the checks we got went directly into my sons accounts. (Please dont expect anything big). but it was a fun and professional experience and I would do it again if we lived in California where the commute would be a little easier on us.

I would say I was generally treated well and very fair by this company. It is a little hectic and you must be sooooo realiable. I suppose I can understand frustrations of the adult extras because it is soo competetive, there are so many of you, and frustrating if you dont get the work you expect.. All I know is, with all the companies (especially here in AZ) that are out there advertising they can get your child into acting and all they do is rip you off, it is AMAZING that I spent $35 dollars and my son was in quite a few shows!!

If you are just checking on this company to see if they are really a casting company -- They are!!
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#4 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Rampant violation of laws by Central Casting and Studios

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

Here is a list of regs/laws that are violated by the studios/SAG on a regular/systematic basis over the years.

1-No bribes/kickbacks to be taken by Studio Casting Directors from actors for work. Federal, state laws. Casting workshops are a de facto form of bribery/kickback scheme practiced by most major casting directors and studios refuse to fire these CDs.

2-No advance fees to be charged to actors by talent agencies(aka calling services) not licensed by the State of California. State law.

3-Studios and SAG act in collusion to coerce/force actors to pay for work and access to work. If actor/employees refuse to pay they do
not get higher paying work and if they file grievances that they are not paid according to contracts and contracts are not enforced; they
are blacklisted from the Industry. Producers/SAG make use of a preferred actors list that sources confirm is a modern day equivalent of a blacklist against actors who insist on being paid according to contract and that contracts be enforced. RICO-Racketeer, Corrupt Organizations Act. Federal Statutes.

4-Domination, control and collusion by the employer studios of the
employee union, SAG, to the detriment of SAG employees. Federal
labor laws, RICO.

5-Favoritism such as casting/production staff hiring themselves on the most lucrative commercial acting jobs instead of their clients.
Also these production/casting staff lying about the status of actors seeking work and requested by production. Frequently, requested actors are denied work by these rings stating they are "sick" or "out of town" and the assigning of these jobs to personal cronies or those paying bribes. SAG rules and State laws.

Source: maaporg.com

6-Production companies violating contract stipulating that 45/15 SAG extras/standins be hired on SAG productions and SAG staff not
enforcing this contract provision. SAG contract.

7-Production companies and SAG colluding to sell memberships to SAG via illegal sales of SAG vouchers; sales of "ghost" vouchers to those
seeking SAG entry; SAG allowing an indefinite and unlimited number of actors entry into SAG as long as they pay increasing initiation fees. This is to the detriment of present SAG members and in gross imbalance to the actual numbers of SAG jobs available per contracts negotiated and not enforced by SAG. SAG regs, State laws against
unfair business practices, RICO laws.

8-Studios and SAG acting together to underpay residuals to SAG members.

9-SAG refusing to act on members expressed interests to eliminate the voucher system, replace it with a merit/work based entry system;
start a SAG casting office to obviate casting co./calling service racketeering; refusal to enforce contracts and hire a sufficient number of field reps to enforce contracts; as well as spending members dues money on numerous studies, inflated real estate leases; maaporg.com
inflated senior staff compensation; inflated consultant fees charged by cronies of SAG staff; unnecessary branch offices all while basic
services to working rank and file members are ignored.

10-Studios passing on costs of employment to employees through various intermediaries that shakedown employees for money for basic
access to work.

11-Sweetheart deals arranged by SAG senior staff and production exec staff to intentionally avoid paying actors according to agreed upon contracts. Thus making contracts effectively meaningless.

Section 47, of the Producer-Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement, Gold (old) page 98, as negotiated reads:

47. CASTING

A. Casting which is done outside the studio shall be conducted on a business-like basis, with regular business hours and telephone
services.

B. At least once per month, Producer will send a casting director, if one is then engaged, to the showcases jointly sponsored by the Union
and Casting Society of America. Such casting director may instead expend a comparable amount of time holding general interviews.
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#5 Author of original report

Central Casting/Extras Management Labor Racketeering: Allegations

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

Central Casting/Extras Management Lawsuit: Case Info

Allegations

1. Plaintiff Jonathan Adler at all times herein mentioned was, an individual residing in the State of California, County of Los Angeles, and is suing both in his individual capacity and on behalf of the general public as to the third cause of action.

2. Plaintiff Jonathon Wright is, and at all times herein mentioned was, an individual residing in the State of California, County of Los Angeles, and is suing both in his individual capacity and on behalf of the general public as to the third cause of action.

Defendant Entertainment Partners Group, Inc.
(hereinafter "Entertainment Partners" is, and at all times herein mentioned was, a California corporation in good standing and doing business in the County of Los Angeles, State of California. Defendant Entertainment Partners is a subisidiary of defendant Draney as 100%
of it's stock is owned by said defendant.

Defendant Carl Joy is, and at all times herein mentioned was, an individual residing in the County of Los Angeles, State of California
and was a vice president of defendant Entertainment Partners and the manager of defendant Central Casting.

Defendant Richard Spiker and/or Steven Spiker individually, and doing business as Extras! Management, were, and at all times herein
mentioned are doing business in the County of Los Angeles, State of California.

Defendant Jimmy Jue is, and at all times herein mentioned was, an individual residing in the State of California, County of Los Angeles, and employed by Central Casting as a casting director.

Defendant Rodney Epps is, and at all times herein mentioned was, an individual residing in the State of California, County of Los Angeles, and employed by Central Casting at some unknown time believed to be in 2003.

Plaintiffs are ignorant of the true names and capacities of defendants sued herein as Does 1 through 300, inclusive, and therefore sue these defendants by such fictitious names. Plaintiffs
will seek leave of court to amend the Complaint to allege the true names and capacities of such defendants when same is ascertained.

In doing the things as alleged herein, each of the business entity defendants knew, or should have known of the conduct and activities
of the acts committed by defendants Jimmy Jue, Rodney Epps and does 1 through 100 as alleged herein and consented to, acquiesced in and/or
ratified the conduct of said defendants.

As will be explained herein, Central Casting and Extras! Management and it's predecessors conspired to and did develop a scheme to
defraud members of the Screen Actors Guild(hereinafter SAG) seeking employment as extras in theatrical, television and commercial
productions. The scheme to defraud includes, but is not limited to:

A-Charging an artist/extra an advance fee for procuring, offering, promising or attempting to procure employment or engagements for a
monthly fee believed to be $65.00 without a written contract in violation of Labor Code Section 1701.4 and as further described
herein;

B-providing employees, friends and/or family
(hereinafter "politicals") of defendants Central Casting, Extras!
Management, Jue and Does 1 through 100 with a disproportionately high number of SAG engagements, including television commercials which were at a higher pay scale, even when some of these politicals were not SAG members to the detriment of SAG members(hereinafter "extras"
at times);

C-By suggesting, cajoling, compelling, and in other ways letting SAG members know that is would be in their best interests to register
with Extras! Management at $65 a month in order to obtain engagements from Central Casting thereby engaging in extortion in violation of
Penal Code Section 518;

D-By soliciting bribes and/or kickbacks in the form of cash and good from those extras seeking engagements to ensure repeated and/or
higher paying engagements to the detriment of those SAG members unwilling to pay such tribute in violation of Penal Code Section
641.3;

E-Defendant Extras! Management maintained a star or point system to track the number of engagements a monthly paying SAG member received
to ensure that such member would receive a minimum number of engagements a month to ensure the continued payment of $65.00 a month.

The scheme to defraud works as follows:

A-A SAG member would pay a $20.00 registration fee to register with Central Casting;

B-The SAG member would be encouraged to register with Extras!
Management to obtain engagements because Central Casting would provide exclusive engagements offerings to Extras! Management.
Extras! Management would have photos of the SAG member on file together with other identifying information so as to give the impression that if would select the most suitable extra for the
offering;

C-When an engagement was available the extra would be called by defendant Extras! Management and be provided with the name of the casting director at Central Casting for more details about the engagement;

D-In many instances and over many years, in order to obtain frequent and ongoing engagements the extra was solicited to and did provide
things of value such as cash, cars, television sets, and other such valuable considerations to Casting directors in order to obtain future and frequent engagments;

E-Friends, family members, and employees of Central Casting and Extras! Management would receive engagements without the necessity of
paying kickbacks and would also receive a disproportionately higher number of engagements than those paying $65 a month, without the
necessity of registering with defendant Extras! Management and having to pay said monthly fee;

F-Friends, family members, and employees of defendants Central Casting and Extras! Management who were not SAG members would
nevertheless be sent to engagements which required such membership and were provided with discretionary SAG union vouchers by the
assistant director or other appropriate personnel responsible for this function. On occasion, unused SAG vouchers were sold on location for $50 and submitted for payment as though the individual had worked;

G-SAG members would obtain union engagements and appear on location and forced to accept non-union vouchers and be paid at minimum wage
rather than union scale.

H-Bribes and/or kickbacks were paid to employees of defendant Central Casting and others as part of the overall scheme to defraud.

I-When extras would voice disagreement and object to the system created by the defendants, they would be threatened with being blackballed, would be blackballed from further engagements, and in other ways be damaged; and

J-When an extra stopped and/or refused to pay bribes and /or kickbacks or the $65.00 a month to Extras! Management, the number of engagements received was drastically cut back or no engagements were received.

Plaintiffs Jonathan Adler and Jonathon Wright are two such SAG members who did not succumb to the scheme to defraud to their financial detriment.

Defendant Jimmy Jue is believed to have accepted kickbacks from extras in the form of cash, car(s), a television set and other personal property from an unknown date, but believed to be as early as 1994, and continuing to the present.

Defendant Rodney Epps is believed to have accepted kickbacks in the form of cash based on a percentage of the earnings received by the
extra from an unknown date up to and including sometime in 2003.

Upon information and belief, does 1 through 100 also received kickbacks in the form of cash and/or other personal property in exchange for providing extras with repeated engagements.

The conduct and actions of defendants Jue, Epps and does 1 through 100 was and is of common knowledge in the extras industry, with other
casting companies, call-in services, and production entities to the extent that the defendant employers knew or should have known of the practices as alleged herein and, in not addressing said practices consented to, acquiesced in, and/or ratified such conduct.

Note: These are the General Allegations excerpted from the actual Lawsuit Complaint filed against the Defendants.

Latest case status: The Defendants recently failed in their attempt to have the case dismissed by moving it to Federal Court. Our remand motion to return it to State Court was successful and several of the Defendants are now scheduled for depositions.

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