Criminal charges were announced Thursday in Los Angeles against five companies and more than two dozen people who allegedly charged actors for access to auditions for television and movie roles.
"California law very broadly prohibits charging people for the opportunity to seek employment," said L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer.
The misdemeanor charges were filed under a unique section of that law that specifically prohibits actors from being charged for auditions.
"They shouldn't have to pay for the opportunity to try out," Feuer said.
The auditions were offered through paid participation in so-called, "casting workshops," which Screen Actors Guild attorney Duncan Crabtree-Ireland explained could be legitimate, so long as they offered education and training on how to perform well during auditions.
"In terms of these pay to play, essentially disguised pay to audition situations, we hear about them all the time," he said.
Prosecutors said they obtained the evidence that led to the charges through an undercover operation, in which an actor attended 13 workshops provided by the five companies named in the criminal complaints.
Feuer said he hopes the charges are a deterrent to others who would prey on those who come to Southern California desperate for a "break" into the entertainment industry.
-- Eric Leonard (@LeonardFiles) in Downtown L.A.