Quietly closed agency owes big bucks

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Gilla Roos, a 35-year-old talent agency specializing in commercials and print advertisements, has gone bust, and its owner, David Roos, is in hiding.

As a result, at least 75 actors and models have said they are missing back wages totaling at least $150,000 and possibly as much as $250,000. The exact amount can't be determined, but at least two estimates put the loss at about $3,000 a person.

According to more than a dozen Gilla Roos clients as well as legal and industry sources, Roos shuttered his business Feb. 20. He has not filed for bankruptcy protection for himself or his business.

Roos has not returned several messages seeking comment, but client Danny Fischer said he has spoken with him a few times since the agency collapsed.

"He says he's bankrupt, he's homeless, he can't pay, he can't feed his two daughters," Fischer said. "I said, 'That's horrible, but what happened to our money?' "

Several Gilla Roos clients said the agency has been one of the slowest in paying its actors and models, who have had to wait at least three months to get paid.

Some actors were able to get their money directly from advertisers or producers, but many learned that their checks had been sent to Gilla Roos weeks and sometimes months previously and that they had been cashed.

Client Yue Xu became the spokeswoman and field captain for aggrieved clients by creating a mailing list, through which she urged former Gilla Roos clients to sue the agency in small-claims court and pressure the Manhattan DA to bring charges against Roos.

A spokeswoman at the D.A.'s office, who requested anonymity, said: "The Special Prosecutions unit received a number of calls about Gilla Roos the first week of March. An initial review indicated that it was more of a civil matter." But the D.A. has not closed the case, she said.

Andrew Salomon is news editor at Back Stage.
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