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.
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.
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.
Los Angeles, California