Los Angeles (July 19, 2004) - Screen Actors Guild (SAG) President Melissa Gilbert and Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo today announced criminal charges have been filed against an individual accused of preying on aspiring actors by falsely offering them a way to attain a SAG card in exchange for work as “audience fillers” in shows involving live studio audiences. This is the first criminal prosecution involving SAG membership scams that have long plagued the industry.
City Attorney Delgadillo announced today that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of Thyvronn Hill, who faces 14 charges, including 10 counts of false advertising, two counts of petty theft, failing to secure proper business registration and unauthorized use of a union trademark. The charges were the result of an extensive investigation conducted by the Guild, which included evidence provided by both union members and non-members alike. The evidence collected by SAG was then turned over to the City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit, which filed charges on July 14, 2004.
“I want to thank City Attorney Delgadillo for taking a strong stand for the right of aspiring actors not to be preyed upon by individuals intent on exploiting their hopes and dreams to make a quick buck,” said SAG President Melissa Gilbert. “These scams have long plagued our industry. I am grateful for the hard work of SAG’s staff in conducting this investigation and helping build a successful case for prosecution. This is yet another effort the Guild is making to protect members of our union as well as those who aspire to membership.”
Gilbert went on to emphasize that membership in SAG is granted by one of three means: (1) securing a principal role in a film, television show, commercial or other production conducted under a SAG contract; (2) securing three background roles in productions conducted under SAG contracts; or (3) through membership and meeting a specific work requirement in a sister union, such as AFTRA or Actors’ Equity.
“This kind of exploitation, unfortunately, is a reality in our business,” Gilbert added. “Please be aware and contact SAG if you have questions, and bear in mind the wisdom of the old saying ‘if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.’ SAG membership requires hard work and legitimate acting accomplishments. It cannot be bought, sold or bartered.”
Members of SAG or others in the entertainment community who want to report suspected scams can call (323) 549-6806 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is also available online by visiting the “Tips & Tools” section at www.sag.org, which can be found under the “Resources” drop down menu on the home page.
About Screen Actors Guild
SAG is the nation’s premier labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 working actors in film, television, industrials, commercials and music videos. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, you can visit SAG on-line at www.sag.org