Actors Union Quashes Auction of Stars' Audition Tapes

A planned auction of VHS audition tapes of major celebrities was canceled Tuesday as a result of a protest by SAG-AFTRA, the union announced. The auction at Julien’s Auctions will proceed on April 5 and 6, with an array of wardrobe, props and other memorabilia, but without the tapes.

Among the celebrities who auditions were to go on the block are Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., Keanu Reeves, Dermot Mulroney, Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, Helen Hunt, David Arquette, Adrien Brody, Noah Wylie, Ben Affleck, Lisa Kudrow, Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Patrick Dempsey.

“Auditions are not public performances, and under SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreements performers are entitled to expect them to remain private," said SAG-AFTRA general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.

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Julien's released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter saying it had pulled the items at the union's behest.

"We were contacted by SAG as a courtesy and out of respect for the actors we decided to pull the 12 lots out of the 800 we have in the Hollywood Legends auction this weekend," the statement reads. 

A statement from the union added, “SAG-AFTRA considers the right of performers to control the use of their image to be of utmost importance and we vigorously protect those rights.”

The statement explained that under the union’s collective bargaining agreements, tapes must be erased upon the performers’ request. The statement does not assert, however, that any of the performers had requested that their audition tapes be erased.

The statement posited that “unauthorized use of audition and interview footage may also result in claims against producers and casting directors under right of publicity and/or privacy laws.”

Backstage reported that the sellers were casting directors Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson, and that they are instead donating the tapes to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

It is not known whether there will be any restrictions preventing library patrons from viewing the tapes, nor whether the Academy would erase tapes if requested by the performers. Indeed, it’s not known whether any of the performers objected to the auction.

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