Entertainment Industry

Category: talent management

United Talent opening up New York office

There are going to be a few more suits roaming around the Big Apple this fall.

United Talent Agency, which has one of the strongest rosters of television writers and producers, is opening up a New York office in November.

Relocating from Los Angeles to New York are Nancy Gates, United Talent's co-head of TV Talent, and alternative television agent Alison Wallach. Also joining the effort is Steven Fisher, who is joining United Talent from rival agency ICM.

UTA is expected to add more agents to the new office in the coming months as part of a push to increase not only its film and television presence but to also build up its theater, digital media and corporate consulting practices.

-- Joe Flint 

Hollywood talent manager convicted of violating state law

Veteran Hollywood talent manager Pat O'Brien has been convicted of violating state law by operating a "bait-and-switch scam" on aspiring actors and their parents, according to the Los Angeles city attorney's office.

O'Brien, 51, operator of Los Angeles-based companies Pat O'Brien Talent Management and Talent Marketing and Promotions Inc., entered a no-contest plea to one count of operating an advance-fee talent representation service and one count of failing to file a $50,000 bond with the state labor commission, the city attorney's office said in a statement Thursday.

A judge sentenced O'Brien to three years' probation and 90 days in jail, or 45 days of community labor. O'Brien was also ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution to three victims and to shut down Talent Marketing and Promotions Inc., the city attorney's office said.

O'Brien's management firm will continue to operate.

O'Brien was charged in April with violating the state's talent-scam-prevention law. The charges stemmed from a complaint filed by an Arizona mother who moved to California with her 15-year-old son after he was invited by O'Brien's group to audition for a part in a teen sitcom project.

The mother alleged that the audition was a ploy to sign a management contract with O'Brien and that she paid nearly $3,000 for a photo shoot and acting classes. O'Brien later refunded most of her money, the city attorney's office said.

O'Brien, who had previously denied any wrongdoing, said of the convictions: "In an effort to put a lengthy, painful trial with my family behind us, I agreed to plead no-contest to two minor business code violations."

He attributed the violations to bad legal advice he received and noted that more serious charges of theft and fraud were dropped, calling the city attorney's case against him “a witch hunt.”

The case was the second prosecution of a talent manager by the city attorney's office. Last week, Studio City-based talent manager Nicholas Roses, 21, operator of Roses Entertainment Corp., entered a no-contest plea to one count of operating an advance-fee talent representation service and one count of failing to file a $50,000 bond with the state labor commission. Roses was sentenced to 36 months' probation.

In January, three parents lodged complaints with the city attorney's office about a summer "boot camp" operated by Roses in Los Angeles. The parents, who were recruited from Ohio, complained that the weeklong camp was disorganized and that Roses failed to provide adequate seating and food and water breaks for the children, who were as a young as 6.

Roses was ordered to pay $10,700 in restitution to the three families.

"We are extremely pleased with the outcome in both cases and hope that it will deliver the message to others that you will be prosecuted in Los Angeles for talent scams,'' said Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert, who prosecuted the cases.

RELATED:

City attorney files criminal charges against Hollywood talent manager

City attorney presses criminal charges against talent services

L.A., state officials issue warning to casting companies

-- Richard Verrier

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.

Similar warning letters were sent out ot 13 other casting companies. Truheadshot2

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.

RELATED:

City attorney files criminal charges against Hollywood talent manager

City attorney presses criminal charges against talent services

Photo: Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen A. Trutanich. Photo courtesy of city attorney's office.

-- Richard Verrier

 

 

 

 

 

 

City attorney files criminal charges against Hollywood talent manager

The Los Angeles city attorney's office has charged a veteran Hollywood talent manager with multiple counts of violating the state's talent-scam prevention law.

Patrick W. O'Brien, 51, operator of Pat O'Brien Talent Management and Talent Marketing and Promotions Inc., was charged this week with six criminal counts, including grand theft, false advertising, operating an advance-fee talent representation service and failing to file a $50,000 bond with the state Labor Commission.

The charges stemmed from a complaint filed by an Arizona mother who moved to California with her 15-year-old son after he was invited by O'Brien's group to audition for a part in a teen sitcom project. The mother alleged that the audition was a ploy to sign a management contract with O'Brien and that she paid nearly $3,000 for a photo shoot and acting classes. He later refunded her most of the money, the city attorney's office said.

If convicted on all counts, O'Brien could face up to five years in jail and $51,000 in fines for conducting a "bait-and-switch scam on an aspiring actor and his mother," according to the city attorney's office.

O'Brien said in an interview Tuesday that the criminal charges were baseless. "I've been in this business for 21 years and I've never had a situation like this,'' he said. "The city attorney's office is trying to regulate the business so much, it's making it difficult for legitimate companies to operate."

The case is the fourth one that the city attorney's office has filed under the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009, which prohibits agents, managers and others representing talent from charging fees other than commissions, among other requirements. Last week, a Studio City-based talent manager and his company Roses Entertainment Group were charged with multiple criminal counts; they were accused of operating an industry "boot camp" for children that the city attorney said placed several minors at risk of harm. 

-- Richard Verrier 

Irving Azoff consolidates power at Live Nation, assumes chairmanship

Concert behemoth Live Nation Entertainment on Monday said it purchased the remaining 25% of Front Line Management Group that it didn't already own for $116.2 million from Irving Azoff and Madison Square Garden. Founded in 2004, Front Line represents Christina Aguilera, Aerosmith, Jimmy Buffett and numerous other musicians.

Michael Rapino and Irving Azoff In addition, Azoff, chief executive of Front Line, becomes Live Nation's chairman, consolidating his power at the Beverly Hills entertainment giant, which last year merged with the country's largest ticket seller, Ticketmaster, in a deal worth $889 million.

With Front Line fully in the corporate fold, Live Nation is able to manage talent, book concerts, issue tickets and sell artist-related merchandise.

The announcement is the denouement of a corporate power struggle that played out last year between Azoff and Barry Diller, who stepped down as chairman of Live Nation on Jan. 28 after announcing his departure in September.

Diller's departure was largely seen as payback for having crossed John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, which owns roughly 18% of Live Nation. The two, who were once close business partners, sued each other two years ago in a bitter dispute over control of IAC/InterActiveCorp., which once owned Ticketmaster, the Home Shopping Network and Match.com. Malone and Diller formally parted ways in December, with Diller resigning as CEO of IAC and Malone selling his remaining shares in the company for $360 million.

As part of Monday's announcement, Live Nation said Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei has joined its board of directors, replacing Malone.

Azoff, 62, assumes control of Live Nation at a time of declining concert attendance as consumers dial down discretionary spending. It sold 10% fewer tickets during the first nine months of 2010 compared with a year earlier, according to the latest figures released by the company. The dip occurred even though Live Nation staged more concerts -- 15,049 events in the first nine months of 2010, compared with 14,933 a year earlier.

Live Nation shares rose 32 cents, or 3%, to $10.80 on Monday.

-- Alex Pham

Photo: Live Nation Chief Executive Michael Rapino, left, and Irving Azoff at a 2009 congressional hearing on the proposed merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster. Credit: Kevin Wolf / Associated Press.

City attorney presses criminal charges against talent services

The Los Angeles city attorney's office has charged the operators of two local talent service companies with violating the state's talent scam prevention law.

The charges mark the latest crackdown on talent services and management companies by the city attorney's office, which has been on a campaign to ferret out abusive practices among firms that purport to help actors find jobs.

David Askaryar, 46, operator of Burbank-based Hollywood Stars Management Inc. and VIP Talent Web Inc., was charged with 16 criminal counts, including charging advance fees for actors, not posting a $50,000 bond with the State Labor Commission and failing to provide artists with written contracts. The case sprang from three complaints actors filed against the company in August, according to a press release by the city attorney's office.

In a separate case, the city attorney also stated that Ricardo Macias, 35, the owner of Los Angeles online listing service ActorsOnSet.com, was charged with 18 criminal counts, including grand theft, false advertising  and failing to file the required bond.

The City Attorney's Office said it had received 22 complaints nationwide about Macias' company. The complaints alleged that actors were required to pay a $98 fee in order to list themselves on the company's website and could not obtain any offers of work.

If convicted on all counts, Askaryar faces up to 13 1/2 years in jail and a $127,000 fine, while Macias could serve a maximum of seven years in prison and $40,000 in fines, the city attorney's office said. The men are to be arraigned Jan. 24 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Askaryar said the claims were baseless and that his fees and practices were legal.  “I haven’t seen the charges, but I’m not a criminal,’’ he said, attributing the allegations to a few disgruntled former clients. “They are ruining my name and my company name.”

Macias was not immediately available for comment.

The two talent service companies are the first to be charged under the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009, which prohibits agents, managers and others representing talent from charging actors fees other than commissions, among other requirements.

-- Richard Verrier

 

 

 

 

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