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Act Doesn’t Serve

Entertainment Industry
Rick Siegel is a former personal manager
who is often engaged as an expert witness
on the history, construction and application
of the Talent Agencies Act.

L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer
recently announced that to
protect the "thousands who
come to Hollywood every year
to pursue their dreams in the
entertainment industry," his
office was stepping up their
enforcement of those who
violate the Labor Code Sections
1701-1704, the Krekorian Act.
As the legislation's author, thenAssemblyman and now
Councilman Paul Krekorian
stated, the city is "putting all
fraudsters on notice that they
will be prosecuted if they cheat
and steal to get ahead."
The intention of the legislation
is honorable. As stated by
Krekorian, the act's aim was "to
protect performers and their
families from being taken
advantage of by talent
representatives."

But as written, the act has the
potential to compromise the dayto-day workings of the industry.
Section 1702 states, "No person
shall own, operate or act in the
capacity of an advance-fee talent
representation service." In
defining what such a service,
Section 1702.1(a) declares it is
unlawful to charge or receive a fee
"from or on behalf of an artist for
photographs ... reproductions or
other promotional materials as an
artist; lessons, coaching, seminars,
workshops or similar training for
an artist."
The act (Section 1702.4(a))
provides an exception for public
educational institutions and for
private higher learning institutions
or for those who primarily teach
adults or satisfy the requirements
of Article 5 of Chapter 2 of Part 20
of Title 2 of the Education Code
(Section 1703.6). But every
private instructor is at risk of fine,
loss of compensation and jail, be
they dialect coaches that make up
to $10,000 each week to train
actors to speak as native
Bostonians or Londoners, or
audition coaches hired specifically
to ready actors of all ages for
specific opportunities.

Also at risk: studio photographers
that charge for actors' headshots,
editors who create demo reels for
actors of all ages are not at risk of
fine, and anyone who either is a
fee-based representative (for many
years, Harrison Ford paid his
manager on a monthly basis and it
is now common for music
managers to be paid this way) or is
paid for being an artist
development consultant.
The city also announced their
first alleged culprit, charging a
long time music manager and
consultant, Debra Baum, with four
counts of violating the Talent
Scam Prevention Act. Baum faces
a maximum two years in jail and
$20,000 in fines.
Most people facing that kind of
punishment have been accused of
doing something quite horrific. Per
the city attorney's press release,
Baum could be incarcerated for
entering into two contracts that
had a monthly fee to provide
consulting and marketing services
with the objective to further the
career of a 19-year-old singer.
That is hardly an activity where
jail is appropriate, even if Baum
knew what she was doing was in
fact unlawful.
But most likely, Baum had no

idea that she was doing anything
remotely illegal. During the
discussion leading to its passage,
the Krekorian Act was described
as a way to protect minors and
their parents. As I did not
represent minors when working as
a personal manager, I paid little
attention to this legislation,
especially because I understand
the need to protect minors who
may not be sophisticated enough
to protect themselves.
Baum is not alone: I doubt most
if not all of the show business
tradespeople who are violating the
Krekorian Act on a daily basis
have any idea they are doing so,
just as it is safe to assume the state
Legislature had no intention to
criminalize such a broad swath of
industry professionals. Now the
Legislature must take action. The
question is: What action should be
taken?
If the idea is to keep the public
from wasting money on businesses
that offer great opportunities and
rarely deliver, are we going to
close all the ballet schools? After
all, how many girls grow up to be
ballerinas? How about football
camps and private quarterback
coaching, should the government
likewise but a stop to those

businesses because the odds of
reaching the NFL is so miniscule?
Yes, there have been
unscrupulous individuals who
have taken advantage of young
actors' dreams with promises of
stardom. And when fraud is
alleged, there should be
prosecutions. But to color
everyone who works in talent with

the same brush of mistrust is
simply unfair. And it is similarly
unfair for the city attorney to go
after one industry professional
when virtually everyone with
those trying to get into the industry
or one-on-one with even seasoned
professionals are breaking the law
as written on a daily basis.

Rick Siegel is a former personal manager often engaged as an expert
witness on the history, construction and application of the Talent
Agencies Act.
This article appeared in the March 3, 2015 edition of the L.A. Daily Journal.