Talent Manager Demands Clients Pay to Play
– Paul Russell
Casting notices, commonly known as ‘breakdowns’ in the entertainment industry, are the sustaining career-blood of an actor’s livelihood but toxins routinely infiltrate the actor’s search for work and inflict a monetary poison. A well-known talent manager is the most recent malpractitioner of injury to actors.
The poison has spread beyond black market breakdowns: protected copy-written casting notices distributed surreptitiously to actors for monies by individuals with access to subscriptions from the leading exchange of casting notices between casting and talent representatives that is Breakdown Services. Talent representatives to receive casting notices via the exchange are scrutinized for professional standards by Breakdown Services before a paid subscription by a talent agency or manager is approved.
One long-established talent manager has allegedly been charging clients fees to subsidize a Breakdown Services subscription and other expenses including possibly the manager’s home rental from which they operate.
In e-mails obtained by Answers for Actors potential clients of a New York City based talent manager are offered under the manager’s letterhead, a contract which includes the following clause:
“… A $30.00 per month out of pocket expenses charge is due by the 15th of each month, (this covers expenses for breakdowns, for mailings, deliveries, faxes, etc.) ARTIST will receive receipts for all for monies paid for tax deductible purposes. If the $30.00 per month out of pocket expense charge is not paid on time ARTIST will be put under review by MANAGER for possible renegotiation or termination of contract. Please make check or money order payable to [the MANAGER].”
In a recent exchange between the manager and an actor, the actor asked that the $30 per month fee be waived, but the manager responded emphasizing a need for the fee:
When contacted for a response in regard to actors being charged a fee to subsidize a manager’s subscription to Breakdown Services, Breakdown Services provided this statement:
“Our position is very clear – like an agent, a manager should not charge a client for anything. When we find that anyone, manager or agent, is collecting money from a client we stop their service (as long as we have proof that it is happening). At $30 an actor, you would only need a handful in order to pay for Breakdowns which means the manager is making a profit from the rest of the actors. The only profit a manager should be making is commision [SIC] from a project they helped book.
There are certain things a representative needs in order to run an efficient office – Breakdown is one of them and they should be paid for by the representative only.
Breakdown Services NY”
Reportedly a client of the manager claims that Breakdown Services has suspended the manager’s subscription. Breakdown Services did not confirm the suspension or respond to inquiries of when, or if ever, the manager would be eligible to again receive casting breakdowns for prominent screen and stage projects which are difficult to obtain elsewhere.
UPDATE: The manager implicated above has had to sign an agreement with Breakdown Services that clients will not be charged monies beyond commission. The manager has also had to issue a new contract for clients, which eliminates the monthly fees.
Related story: Actors Scamming Actors Pay-to-Play
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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.
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