Two Casting Workshop Firms Pull Classes After L.A. City Attorney Files Charges

Courtesy of Gary Baum
From left: Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, general counsel for SAG-AFTRA; Mike Feuer, City Attorney; Mark Lambert, Deputy City Attorney; and an unnamed investigator with the City Attorney's office on Feb. 9

Pay-to-play auditions have emerged as a cornerstone of Hollywood's labor market.

Less than a week after the Los Angeles City Attorney filed predatory labor charges against five casting workshop firms and more than two dozen individuals, another company marketing actor education has voluntarily stepped away from operating them. 

LA Film and Television Workshops — which was not named or charged by the City Attorney last week — has taken down its website, and its owner Tracy Esposito sent out an e-mail blast on Sunday detailing how to “Up Level Your Career WITHOUT Workshops,” offering services to assist clients in career coaching, goals setting and branding. Still, perhaps hedging that the smoke will soon clear after the court cases are over (arraignments begin in March), Esposito promised “workshops are coming back.” Esposito didn’t return The Hollywood Reporter’s request for comment.

Pay-to-play auditions have emerged as a cornerstone of Hollywood's labor market, THR found in an investigation 10 months ago.

Meanwhile, the Actor’s Key, one of the most prominent of the firms charged last Thursday by City Attorney Mike Feuer with violating the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act, has taken another tack. At press time, it now lists all of the workshop classes on its website through March 23 as “currently full.” When reached for comment, a representative of the Actor's Key indicated this move was intentional: "The classes are listed as 'full' to keep people from signing up for them. We want to do our best to ensure that payments are not made for classes that we do not expect to be held at this point in time."

The firm’s owners Kristen Caldwell and Katherine Shaw and manager Jessica Gardner will be arraigned in March, each on multiple counts. Casting professionals who have taught at the Actor’s Key — Nancy Foy (Paper Towns), Ricki Maslar (The Bronx Bull) and Rachel “Maggie” Bacharach (Heartbeat) — will join them. 

Among those with an ostensibly fully booked class is casting director Ty Harman (Santa Clarita Diet). He is set to teach on March 9. Feuer separately named him a defendant for allegedly violating Krekorian at another firm, Actors' Ally. 

The spokesperson for the Actor's Key concluded: "We do not believe that the pending charges are warranted against the Actor's Key or against anyone associated with our business, including casting directors. Every effort has been made to comply with the law, and we believe that we faithfully complied. This will be addressed in due course with the assistance of our legal team."