Prominent TV Casting Director: "Workshops Are Dying" After Pay-to-Play Investigation

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Will Stewart, who worked most recently on 'Scandal,' deleted a Facebook page advertising his own casting workshop classes.

Prominent TV casting director Will Stewart has deleted his professional Facebook page, which advertised his casting workshop classes. In a post published Aug. 14 announcing the decision, he explained, “workshops are dying after the hate piece by The Hollywood Reporter,” referring to the examination of the proliferation of pay-to-play TV audition practices that THR published in late March.

Until recently, Stewart was a casting director on several of Shonda Rhimes’ ABC shows, starting with Grey’s Anatomy in 2007, continuing through Private Practice and ending with a several-season run on Scandal. More recently, he cast the pilot of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s AMC drama Preacher.

In the Aug. 14 Facebook post, no longer online but viewed and saved by THR, Stewart admits to making hiring decisions based on paid class experience (“I auditioned and even casted many of you from those rooms”) but insists only qualified candidates benefited from the arrangement (such success stories occurred “not because I met you in workshops, but because you were talented and earned the roles”).

Before it was taken down, Stewart, one of the most prolific participants in the scene, had posted a schedule of 20 workshop dates for the first three months of 2016 at The Actor’s Key and Act Now — at times scheduling back-to-back classes at the same location. (There were no updates after THR published its initial coverage about the issue.)

Stewart did not return a request for comment. His former employer, Linda Lowy Casting, said he’s no longer working there but didn’t indicate when he left. It’s unclear whether his departure from the company has anything to do with the workshop issue.

Stewart’s decision comes as the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office continues its probe of the pay-to-play sector, and after the Casting Society of America held a special town hall reminding its members to follow its own workshop rules.

In a closed June meeting, workshop owners acknowledged that casting directors canceling classes at the behest of networks had adversely impacted business.

Scott David, the most high-profile casting director involved in the workshop sector, parted ways with his longtime employer, CBS’ Criminal Minds, the day after THR published its first story. The Actors Link, the workshop business he co-owned, now operates without him and has rebranded as ACE Studios.

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