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Criminal Minds‘ longtime casting director Scott David was relieved of his duties Thursday, the day after The Hollywood Reporter published an investigation into the television industry’s proliferation of casting “workshops” that encourage actors to pay for access to potential auditions. The story quoted David and also featured his portrait.
Prominent in the TV casting community, David has been a contentious figure for years for simultaneously working on the CBS procedural while owning a business, The Actors Link, which charged those seeking roles on his show and others for audition classes taught by those concurrently in a hiring position on network, cable and streaming shows.
Criminal Minds’ production company Touchstone Television confirmed David’s departure but declined to discuss the termination. David, who has been employed by the show since starting as a casting associate in 2005, did not return a request for comment.
THR’s reporting found more than two dozen companies offering more than 450 sessions in a month’s span during pilot season. The Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act, passed in 2009, was meant to outlaw or at least curtail egregious practices by workshop businesses. Yet the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office has yet to prosecute a workshop case since the legislation’s implementation.
Prior to David’s exit, representatives for several actors told THR why it was important to encourage clients to consider workshops at his North Hollywood-based The Actors Link.
“Scott David is a very big casting director,” said agent Courtney Peldon of Aqua. “You’re not necessarily going to get in front of him [without attending his classes]. They can be a wonderful way.”
Agreed another workshop advocate, manager Gigi Garner: “Everything in this business is based on relationships. If it’s the only way to make an impression, then you’ve got to use what you’ve got to use.”
Casting director Dea Vise, a rare outspoken voice among her colleagues against the workshops, explained, “The problem is we’re paid by the producers to find actors. So how dare we be paid by the actors? That’s double-dipping.”
For his part, David, who has taught classes not just at The Actors Link but with other operators in Los Angeles as well, saw nothing wrong with workshops when speaking with THR about the issue over lunch in November in Studio City.
“It’s about marketing yourself,” he said of the classes’ intent. “These workshops are a gymnasium for the actors to learn about casting directors, to learn the process, to alleviate certain fears, to create relationships, to link themselves together with all sorts of people and market themselves.”
David has his defenders. THR spoke with actor Doug Morency for the investigation, who observed, “I was able to get my first gig, even before I was represented, because of a relationship I started in a workshop. It was Scott David for Criminal Minds. And if I hadn’t taken these workshops, that gig never would’ve happened.” Morency has since started his own workshop company, Connect Studios, in Burbank.
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