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Casting Companies Forced to Cut Fees for Extras

Background actors are no longer blending in, especially those associated with Burbank’s Central Casting- the largest company for extras. A labor law declaring the company’s upfront fees illegal has shocked both employees and performers alike, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Last month, the California state labor commissioner and the Los Angeles city attorney deemed the required fees actors pay they when register for employment opportunities as a violation. Central Casting could have been subjected to the 2009 Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act, which put the company at risk for prosecution. A cease-and-desist letter was sent to Burbank on May 18, and the company officially announced its decision to eliminate the $25 processing charge the very next day, reported Backstage.

Casting companies are arguing though the charges are necessary to cover their costs, but actors say they're struggling to afford these extra fees in a time when work is scarce. In addition, factors such as the growing use of computer-generated effects, a spike in reality television's popularity, and the economic recession have limited options even further for extras.

There are almost 23,000 members of SAG that consider themselves background artists, and only about 1,100 of them make enough money (a minimum of $14,800 a year) to qualify for the union’s health plan. Most of these performers have further costs to subtract from their paychecks- such as calling services that charge monthly subscription fees to manage their schedules.

The casting companies, however, are the only ones taking the brunt of the latest crackdown. Listing and Internet services are exempt from a provision in the state law that prohibits companies from charging advance fees for procuring employment, Deputy City Atty. Mark Lambert told the Los Angeles Times. SAG, which receives daily complaints concerning these fees, supported the warning letters.

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That annoys me. I paid my fee for Central Casting and they've barely helped me since. So typical. Grrrr....

Is there someway to get a list of all the casting companies that should not be charging this fee?

Central Casting also took money out of or paychecks for 8 or more years and nothing was done.
the registration fee they forced me to pay four times now over the years.

there is PLENTY more to worry about what Central Casting is doing illegally than charging $25.00 for photos. Get MAD people get very MAD and question everything! But, good job on putting stop to this!

How about the real issue as to why these SAG bg aren't making any money? SAG has done nothing for decades in terms of securing more work for union bg. Not to mention SAG's greediness up top that enabled the producers to switch their contracts to AFTRA, further eliminating jobs. The real issue has nothing to do with a one-time $25 fee.

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