Axium might have dealt its last paycheck

Empty

Axium International, the industry's largest payroll services providers and a source for production and gap financing, has closed its doors indefinitely.

The company's home office on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles and its offices in Burbank, New York, Vancouver, Toronto and London were quiet, with employees told via e-mail not to show up to work starting Tuesday.

Company president Ruben Rodriguez is apparently no longer with the firm. Calls to his mobile were met with a recording saying the number had been disconnected or no longer in service.

Speculation swirled that the company was faced with a $16 million tax assessment it couldn't meet and would be declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Companies were scrambling to get with Axium's rivals, such as Entertainment Partners, to meet their payroll needs, while others were left wondering if payments would be made. The company was also working on guild payments.

"Nobody knows what the situation is right now," said one executive. "They had payroll deposits, and they were making union and state and federal tax payments that would hopefully get made."

One insider said any payments not reaching their destination would become part of Axium's trust and would be vulnerable in bankruptcy court, where creditors could get a hold of it.

Entertainment Partners, meanwhile, said it, and others, would step in to pick up the payroll slack.

"The entertainment industry payroll companies are eager to do whatever we can to help mitigate the impact of this closure upon the production community," said president and CEO Markham Goldstein. "Our top priority right now is to lend assistance to production companies and their workers affected by this unfortunate incident and help them transition in order to keep productions up and running."
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