L.A., state officials issue warning to casting companies on fees charged to extras
City and state officials warned more than a dozen casting companies -- including the largest in the entertainment industry -- that they are running afoul of state labor laws.
The Los Angeles city attorney's office and the California labor commissioner this week issued a cease-and-desist letter to Central Casting in Burbank, advising it to stop charging various fees to background actors -- better known as extras -- in violation of the state's labor laws.
An investigation by the city attorney office's found that Central Casting charged a $25 "photographic/electronic image" fee, regardless of whether the applicant actually received work, and that other casting companies collected fees ranging from $15 to $80.
Such fees violate a state labor law that bars talent-services companies from charging up-front fees for photo processing and other services in exchange for finding an individual work, authorities say. In a statement, Central Casting said it did not charge improper fees or violate state law. But, citing the government's concerns, the company said it would revise its policies and would suspend charges for photographic fees.
"The Labor Commissioner's office is committed to enforcing all of California's labor laws,'' Labor Commissioner Julie Su said in a statement. "This includes ensuring actors are not required to pay a fee which labor law prohibits."
The warning is the latest step by the city attorney's office to enforce the 2009 Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act, which took effect January 2010. The city attorney has filed criminal charges against several talent services companies for alleged violations of the state law.
"We're very pleased the city attorney and state labor commissioner have taken this action, and we support them wholly in this effort,'' said Terri Becherer, director of the background actors department of the Screen Actors Guild.
Photo: Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen A. Trutanich. Photo courtesy of city attorney's office.
-- Richard Verrier