While California’s regulation of talent management has proved controversial for professionals in the Entertainment Industry, Entertainment Law attorneys included, there are reminders that show why aspiring dancers, singers, and actors need legal protection. In the latest instance, City Attorney Michael Feuer has formally charged a talent agent with illegally seeking $100,000 in up-front fees in a hair salon from a teenage singer and her sister. He has been joined by Hollywood’s actors’ union and a group advocating for child actors in launching a Public Awareness Campaign as part of a plan to crackdown on Hollywood talent scams.
Paul Krekorian, now Los Angeles City Councilman for District 2, wrote and pushed through the state legislature the Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009. The purpose of the act is to protect aspiring performers and their families from scams in which they are asked to pay talent agents without reason. The Krekorian Act prohibits talent agents and talent managers from charging advance fees for representation. His act also aims to ensure every contract with an artist provides notice for cancellation, with a refund procedure.
Among the supporters of the act (AB1319) are the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the BizParentz Foundation, an advocacy group that works on behalf of youthful performers. Both had representatives at Feur’s recent news conference.
There, and in a news release, Feur stated that the act had been violated by Debra Baum, a 53-year-old talent agent known for her work with Paula Abdul and Rebecca Black. Feur claims that Baum illegally charged more than $100,000 for representation and other talent services, in advance, from the two sisters. If convicted of the misdemeanor charges, Baum faces up to two years in jail and $20,000 in fines. Baum is accused of taking a $70,000 profit from the deal. She has not commented on the case and she was scheduled for arraignment this week.