THE NEW HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST
There's a Blacklist. You may be on it.
(And not even know it..)
No, not the new hit television series.
An honest-to-God, genuine, DO NOT EMPLOY THIS PERSON blacklist.
Welcome to Hollywood's dirtiest little secret.
Anyone, from any department, on any set, for any reason, can make a
complaint against you. Without any documentation or verification.
Without checking in with the UPM or even their department head.
They simply call their productions rep at Central and say that they had
a problem and not to book this person ever again for their show.
There is no '3 strikes' system. No review board. No appeals. Nothing.
They can terminate you immediately. Banning you from working for
any of the other productions they book for. (60% of listed shows on
average.) Forget a case of mistaken indentity. You're disposable.
And everyone, except you, is completely unaccountable.
The powers that be over at Central Casting are in an unprecedented
position in our industry. They are seemingly immune to the rules and
regulations required of every other major employer or corporation in this
country. They have no oversight from any outside agency or regulations
regarding their treatment of the thousands of actors employed daily by
The 1st dodge is they're an "at will" company.
On paper, either they, or the employee; can terminate the relationship "at will."
While this might seem equitable on the face of it, it's legalsleeze for
"We can treat you how we want with no enforceable contract between us."
Their 2nd dodge is that they are not the actual employer of said actors.
They've set up a system completely controlling the entire process.
You have to sign up with a call service (for a fee) that controls your
access to the job submission itself. (Often a company endorsed or
partnered with them, ala Extras! Management.) They then filter these
submissions thru to the various Production Companies, (also their
employers/partners), who then pay us thru Entertainment Partners,
(A payroll service "owned by employees" which also happens
to be their parent company.)
They process your personal information, decide who gets what job,
contact you with a booking # and location info, handle your I 9's and
Federal Witholding and State hiring forms yet they're not an Employer?
Only when it suits them it seems.
Like when they want to terminate someone.
For no documented reason.
Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.
At $77 million dollars a year listed background earnings by the
SAG AFTRA 2010 Earnings Report that's a nice chunk of change
that you have complete control over who gets, or more importantly,
doesn't get. The fact that SAG has been complicit with this scheme
and has taken no action to change this, even though 90% of the
rank and file membership has demanded it, is another story entirely.
Let's stay with this issue for now.
Is it just me, or is this potential for abuse within their own system in
need of a serious overhaul? Someone from outside this industry is going
to have to step in and demand regulations that protect the people
that do the majority of the work you see on almost every set.
Stand Ins. (At least they get treated like crew). The Background Artists.
The Extras. You know; the moving, out of focus people walking by.
As much as I don't like to advocate Government Intervention in any
kind of business, this industry has continually proven that it can't
police itself. (Nor does it want to; unless forced, it seems.)
They have purposely structured their business arrangement so that
they have little or no competition, tightly control the flow of information
and distribution of monies to select individuals or groups,
(all of whom are either their business partners or are giving kickbacks)
and leave themselves free from any chance of litigation or responsibility
for their work force by claiming that because the Production Company
(their partners/clients) pays you thru a payroll service like Entertainment
Partners Corp.(their parent company) that they are NOT YOUR EMPLOYER?
Pardon me, but I don't think you're allowed to have it both ways.
You either are the direct funnel that employs thousands of us every day
in our insulated corner of the Entertainment Business with no oversight for
your own employees, (much less for the ones you say you 'don't employ'),
or you're running an American based business with transparent operating practices
that protect its workers and operates under Federal, State and Local Worker
Guidelines with regards to having an appeals process in place and the right to
bear grievance heard by an impartial third party.
So which is it Central Casting?
I'd really like to know...
If you have been blacklisted or know someone who has, please be an
advocate for change and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- National Labor Relations Board for AFL-CIO, National Employment Lawyers Association, Made in NY- Mayors Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, NY State Dept. of Labor, SAG-AFTRA Legal Counsel.
Put safeguards in place for actors as there is no required documentation regarding employment termination disputes.
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