The two principal Hollywood talent unions -- the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) -- have hailed passage of legislation in California aimed at agencies that charge advance fees for representing children looking for jobs in films and TV. In a statement, AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth said, "Performers -- and young performers, in particular -- are especially vulnerable to scam artists and predatory business practices that fraudulently exploit their aspirations and talents. This new law will help regulate the advance-fee talent services that often cause both monetary loss and severe emotional distress to their victims and their families." And at a news conference, SAGE President Ken Howard stated, "The promise of acting jobs is no longer for sale." The legislation bars companies from charging in advance for the promise of securing jobs for child actors and models. It also requires them to post a $50,000 bond with the state. Nevertheless, it was unclear what constitutes an upfront fee. Several talent services are notorious for holding "free" auditions that attract hundreds of children and their parents -- at which they are told that they will need "professional head shots" of their children and then charged excessive fees for the photos, which are taken on the spot.
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