L.A. Mayor Backs Casting Workshop Crackdown: “Everybody Else Better Be Looking Over Their Shoulders”

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Eric Garcetti, seeking re-election, comes out forcefully behind the City Attorney’s recent enforcement against pervasive pay-to-play auditions.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti lent his support to the ongoing crackdown against pay-to-play auditions, suggesting in an interview on Feb 14 with The Hollywood Reporter that the action should put other unscrupulous operators on notice.

“I don’t think people should rest on their laurels just because they weren’t caught this time,” Garcetti said, less than a week after L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer’s Feb. 9 announcement that his office would be filing criminal charges against five local casting workshop firms and more than two dozen individuals associated with them. “I don’t think this is going to be a one-off thing and part of setting an example with people who we do find, is that everybody else better be looking over their shoulders because we’ll come for you next.”

Since those charges were filed, two of the firms, Your Studio Productions and The Actor’s Key, have already shuttered, while others — neither named nor charged — are now taking steps to revamp their approach so as not to become targets. On Feb. 16, ITA Productions, one of the most high-profile and longstanding companies unaffected by Feuer’s actions, sent out a lengthy e-mail blast to its clients, recommitting itself to working “within the boundaries” of state labor law: “There is a very strong campaign to undermine and eliminate audition classes, and it is important that ITA does not fall prey to those who would eliminate our existence.”

Feuer alleges violations under the state Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act. While a THR investigation published 10 months ago found pay-to-play auditions to be pervasive, this will be the first time the City Attorney’s office will be prosecuting workshops since Krekorian was enacted in 2010. “Aspiring performers who pursue their dreams should be treated with respect and never be exploited for profit," Feuer said at his press conference announcing the charges.

Garcetti ­— who is in the waning weeks of his re-election mayoral campaign — signaled that he stood firmly behind Feuer’s newly aggressive enforcement of Krekorian, which was passed by current L.A. City Council member Paul Krekorian (representing a section of the San Fernando Valley filled with workshop firms) when he was previously a State Assemblyman. “We might not be able to hit everybody all at once, we might not ever get to everybody, but it’s like speeding,” the mayor explained. “You have a chance you’re not going to get caught, but if you speed consistently, sooner or later, you’re going to and I think that’s the philosophy we’re taking.”