Two weeks ago I did a post about a production company that asked actresses to audition in blackface, perform salutes to Hitler, and other tasteless acts which were filmed for inclusion in a Sacha Baron Cohen-type reality movie titled May the Best Man Win. At the end of the post I wrote, “The actresses who were pranked were given $50 ‘for their participation and willingness to have their footage used in the film.’ As in the case of those whom were pranked in Brüno and Borat, they have little legal leg to stand on because of the agreements they signed.”
While those actresses might be out of luck, Actors Access has tried to put an end to the prank auditions. Not even a week after the initial report, The Los Angeles Times ran a follow-up story that reported that Actors Access, where the actresses discovered the audition, removed May the Best Man Win from its listings and has decided to permanently ban the film’s casting director, Paul Baker, from the service.
Gary Marsh, the founder of Breakdown Services (the parent company of Actors Access) said of the decision, “The whole thing is disgusting. Certainly actors are portraying a role, but to be pranked? It’s just unacceptable. And I have zero tolerance when it comes to involving our company in that deception… To spring it on an actor at the time of the audition itself does not give anybody the ability to make a considered decision. There’s an attitude that actors are capable and easily led into doing anything to get a job. [Breakdown Services] stands behind the actors, to support the actors and, as much as we possibly can, protect the actors from the kind of chicanery that went on with this project.”
Ray Marshall, producer and co-founder of What If It Barks Films (the production company behind the stunt film), criticized the decision, saying, “Mel Brooks would never have got The Producers made if the mere mention of Hitler had everyone in Hollywood refusing to work with them, Whether [the prank] was artistically satisfying or morally repugnant is simply a matter of opinion. But the scene did also involve a number of young Jewish children, whose parents were happy to be involved — because it was funny.”
Uhhh… I think Marshall is missing the point here. Marsh and Actors Access didn’t object to the content of the film (I am sure plenty of Hitler-related films have been listed on Actors Access), but rather the prank that was pulled. In fact, Marsh pointed this out in a follow-up statement, writing, “He completely misses the point. I’m sure that Mel Brooks gave the script to the actors so that they knew what they were getting involved in when it came to ‘Springtime for Hitler.’ Actors deserve respect and [What If It Barks Films] did not respect the actors and give them a choice… We have a reputation to uphold so we’re not going to let these amateurs affect our reputation. And they are amateurs of the worst kind.”
Ouch! Well, there’s always Craigslist to prey on unsuspecting people, right?
I agree with Actors Access, and I’ll bet my webseries’ casting director is throwing a fit right now. Auditioning is a professional job interview that many actors spend hours/days/weeks preparing for. They don’t need this kind of B.S. This company wasted the actors’ time for a cruel frakking prank. If the company made them sign releases *before* they auditioned, it’s guilty of fraud and I hope it finds itself the victim of a class-action libel suit.
This story makes me so damn mad. Good for Actors Access.
I think the most ridiculous part is the producer comparing himself to Mel Brooks and saying “what, we can’t make funny movies about this now?” which had absolutely nothing to do with why Actors Access banned the Casting Director. It’s such a blatantly stupid attempt to try to paint themselves as victims when their whole project was based on victimizing people.