So this is one of those situations where I'm duty bound to speak up. After all, I have a partnership in a film company & am an attorney known for being very much pro-creatives.
A friend of mine was recently terminated from there without ANY due process or opportunity to face his accuser. If you want the details, you can read them in this petition on Change.org
Some background for non-actors & entertainment people:
1. In order to get jobs in the film & TV world or have a true shot at being famous, you have to start out as an extra. The only time you don't is if you personally know or are related to a higher up in the industry who loves you dearly. The exception fits maybe 15% of people at best.
The rest of you slobs are going to have to go through a background casting company.
2. Central Casting is the largest background casting company in this country. They have the most established name & their LA office has been around for eons.
3. Central Casting is very strict when it comes to professionalism among background actors. Perfectly understandable since that's their reputation & companies like mine don't want to deal with a company that doesn't recruit good background people or who brings in folk who are disruptive, rude, etc.
If you act up, Central Casting can & will blacklist you.
4. Being blacklisted by Central Casting means you'd better kiss your dreams of stardom good-bye. People in the business talk & if you've got no reputation behind you or a bad one, you can consider yourself a permanent persona non grata.
Any other information can be found by reading the petition or going back and reading other posts about my experiences with Central Casting doing extra work.
Nearly every single actor I know of in NYC has done at least one background gig through Central Casting. If there's an actor in NYC who hasn't & is new to the industry, I'd be shocked. There are some good things about them but my friend's situation makes it solid that I can't work with them anymore.
My friend was a "Core Background" on a few shows. This means you aren't just any old extra coming in for a day & leaving but the production specifically wants you throughout their filming. When you are specifically wanted for a project, that means you're expected to be available & a production has invested some time and consideration into you. You're expected to show up, be professional & it's not a status you'd get by just phoning it in.
This particular friend is someone whose professionalism is not in dispute. I have gotten a sixth sense on professionalism in my years doing this & considering I introduced him to the CEO of my company (which does not happen unless I think you're going to make me look good & won't waste his time), I know the person who started this little chain reaction is full of shit or Central Casting in LA has royally fucked up & defamed my friend.
Apparently what happened was some wardrobe person claimed some incident happened & Central Casting's LA office was informed.
Never mind that all the events took place in NY and the people at the NY office were just as stunned as my friend to hear about this. He didn't even get a warning or an opportunity to appeal or face this accuser. To my knowledge, he's not even aware of what was said or exactly what the complaint was.
Some facts about film & TV productions:
1. Crew departments can be huge. The heads of these departments aren't always on the set and likely don't work on the mere background actors.
2. I have never personally had issues with wardrobe people. I actually tend to like them since doing that requires a fashion sense & I appreciate others who have that since plenty of people I encounter don't. It's a common ground type thing. More wardrobe people end up complimenting clothes I bring for roles I do. The respect thing has to shine through since I know it's not an easy job & if I'm thinking something looks great, that's a sign of talent.
However, the people doing these jobs are likely not on a first name basis with the executives or producers financing the whole thing. Some are definitely not appreciated or treated with respect.
Considering I once went to use a Lifebooker voucher & the guy doing my hair was a hair person on a cable TV series and has a very impressive track record, I don't think these people are exactly living in mansions or doing lines of coke off the boobs of prostitutes on a nightly basis.
3. Some people in these departments are not seasoned pros or industry experts. Most jobs are obtained in entertainment (especially in the mainstream world) because you were a good PA, not because you were an outsider who had great skills. Being a good PA does not mean you were professional & polite to people; you might have just slept your way into a job or made sure to be nice to the higher ups but treated everyone else like crap.
I do recall that one PA from a gig making disparaging remarks about extras and my comment that he never knows who he might be talking to. That little schooling exercise was fun & if he was smart, he learned not to have those conversations about background folk in their earshot since the next one could be an exec like me. Entertainment attorneys are a bit more respected than a lot of people in the industry, as I've mentioned before.
4. Despite this fact, these people will be believed before any background person in a dispute as far as Central Casting is concerned. Why they don't get that not all these people are saints or have ethics, I have no idea.
5. Productions have budgets & schedules. No sane producer or executive wants their budget & schedule messed up. This is why screening is very important for everyone. Set fights are a pain for everyone, make working that much harder & can lead to going over budget. If we have a team set, we like to keep that going & maintain that status quo until we get done with the production.
So why is this an issue for me? Many reasons. This will require wearing a few hats.
As an actress, don't really like the idea that someone's jealousy of my career, my looks, what I had for breakfast, my coat, whatever is going to lead to false complaints against me. That impacts my ability to get work.
While this isn't a personal concern to me these days since I've already done enough extra work to get my learning experience about being on set & can't do it anymore due to being recognized by people, it is a very real concern to other actors who aren't natural redheads or in the position I am. How are they to get experience on a set or learn about that experience firsthand? How are they going to pay their bills since Central Casting doesn't make you work for no pay & their checks are actually good?
As an attorney, this sounds a hell of a lot like carte blanche to defame others at your leisure. There is no accountability to these crew members or from Central Casting for sabotaging someone else's career. This sounds like a system rife for abuse. Oh, and the actor's union (SAG-AFTRA) has apparently been aware of it for about 10 years but still refuses to do ANYTHING about it (sort of furthering my union hatred & definitely not enticing me to join it). My friend wonders if the union's refusal to actually, oh, ADVOCATE for him has anything to do with a recent decision he made to go Fi-Core.
Going "fi-core" is something these unions hate since that means you can work on both union & non-union projects. You don't get to vote or use union protections if someone messes with you but you are treated as though you were union for payments, insurance & in working. Personally, if I join SAG-AFTRA I would go Fi-Core. Hello, entertainment attorney?! Hello, film exec?! I'm intimidating enough on my own & have my own attorney contacts. Don't need your little union & you're not going to sell me on something I don't need. This is not even the first story I've heard about the actor's union not being as great as people make it out to be.
If Central Casting can have policies against sexual harassment, they certainly can have a system where a crew member having a bad hair day or who's irritable from having no sleep the night before can't go getting people blacklisted without sufficient cause. Other unions don't let you fire someone without cause; in fact, they make it next to impossible to get rid of bad apples.
As a film exec, however much I might like & adore you as a person crew member you have no business making decisions on talent hiring/firing at any level. If you are a crew PA, you have even less right to do that. You are NOT the director. You are NOT a producer. This is NOT YOUR job!!!
You are supposed to direct those concerns & complaints to the director/executive in charge. Then, THEY take care of hiring/firing. Would you be permitted to fire a lead actor on the spot for any reason you felt like? Not on any film set I know of or was ever involved in. The producer outranks you. The director outranks you. This is reality so step off!!
Why, Central Casting, do you wish to convey this executive level privilege onto mere crew members and support staff? THEY are not dealing with the cost of the filming, accounting for budget overages or the costs involved in replacing the core background folk they have decided to unilaterally banish.
Dear crew member: If you want to be able to hire & fire, go be a producer. See how hard that job is. Try raising the money, being accountable to a network/investors/other money people, creating and enforcing budgets, learning about the financial rules and tax incentives, securing the insurance, handling the legal matters, etc. You'll find it's not nearly so easy as doing the crew tasks & you'll be facing a LOT more responsibility.
I think about my company's films & plenty of people involved as crew in those projects are not people we'd want to give talent hire/fire privileges to. We don't know them well enough to assess if they'd make the choices we would. We don't know if they have a clue of how to manage people or make a set run properly.
Also, why in God's name would you WANT hire/fire privileges if you're just a crew member? We don't need you getting stressed out over that stuff; we want you to focus on the task you were hired for & let us handle it. Some of us are pros at dealing with conflict.
As someone partially responsible for it, you don't want to volunteer for those tasks. You're getting off far easier not having to be the person in charge, especially with a larger production.
A good exec or producer would investigate these charges before going to Central Casting. I'm not sure if any such person was involved but in my friend's case, they apparently were not. This was some "gotcha" from the LA offices. My friend doesn't even know what show this was on.
So, aspiring actors beware: even if you're a sweetheart to everyone & don't cause any trouble some hating jerk with a mean streak can vanquish you just for existing and for any old reason they invent. Central Casting won't have your back & SAG-AFTRA won't have your back even while you pay them thousands to join their "union."
This was my friend's first offense & he wasn't even given a warning. He got instant termination.
If you find that state of events bullshit, even if you don't know this guy personally, you should sign that petition. There's a principle at work & if it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone. That includes you & your friends.