Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Debbie's Post on Rip-Off Report-Sound Familiar?

Report: Be. Productions - The Buzz P.R. Group, Inc - PR Marketing Specialists - The Entertainment P.R. Team

Category: Modeling & Talent Agencies
Be. Productions - The Buzz P.R. Group, Inc - PR Marketing Specialists - The Entertainment P.R. Team - The P.R. Group, Misleading hiring and recruiting practice for 'Talent Scouts', who in fact trick parents and kids (in shopping malls) indicating they have been discovered or invited to do a screen test. When the kids are brought back, the parents are then pitched about having to pay upfront training and industry fees. Emmeryville California
Thank You

Be. Productions - The Buzz P.R. Group, Inc - PR Marketing Specialists - The Entertainment P.R. Team

5900 Hollis Street
Emmeryville, California, 94608
Submitted: 2/14/2009 10:55:04 PM
Modified: 2/14/2009 10:55:00 PM
Reported By
Predatory pawn
Bay Area, California

Ripoff Report Verified Safe

Be. Productions (aka 'The Buzz P.R. Group, Inc' dba 'PR Marketing
Specialists' aka 'The Entertainment P.R. Team' with 'The P.R. Group' using the phone number 888 433 4089) is misleading to parents, kids and candidates seeking employment. False advertising, discriminatory hiring practices and predatory behavior are just a few of the practices I've discovered in less than one week with this company. They should be reported, fined and shut down.

I answered an ad for a talent scout on craigslist. Below is a detailed account of what I observed:

The company (that seems to have at least six different names) anonymously advertises employment opportunities on craigslist.org saying they have unique PR roles in the entertainment industry, and that they were looking for Talent Scouts. What they are actually doing is hiring unsuspecting young women and single moms to sweep local malls and approach parents with misleading sales pitches suggesting their child has been discovered and will be a star on TV/Film and would they come to a screen test the next day.

This is terribly misleading. What happens is that these parents are invited to a sales pitch where they are sharked into paying for acting classes and training they had zero interest in. It's a lot like a time share pitch, (ie: 'Congratulations, you won weekend getaway! To claim your prize, come to this seminar...').

The first victims in this plot are the candidates who apply to be talent scouts. Candidates were asked to call leaving their name and number. No resume requested, no work history needed. No email nor company name was offered.

Qualified candidates are called back and invited to an interview, which turned out to be a cattle call of 40+ women. To qualify, you must be female because only women and girls were present...(in looking at all these complaints, it seems that it is only women who are hired...this should be investigated further).

Candidates were then all ushered into a fishbowl-style, glass conference room covered with posters of famous child actors in film and TV., and asked a series of questions. There was very little explanation of what the role entailed except that the entertainment industry was growing.

I was skeptical, but their pitch was persuasive and I was curious, so I decided to listen and move forward. When I was called back and asked to work for them, I was invited to a four hour training (which I was not paid for), told how to dress to gain the trust of parents and what jewelry to wear to entice kids ('wear sparkles and bright colors'), how to avoid getting thrown out of the malls (stay away from security guards, exits and check-out lines) then to memorize a script on how to approach parents and children (ages 6-16) in predetermined malls.

DIRECT QUOTES from the script I received on Friday, Feb 13, 2009:

'Hi...we use kids in lots of shows like Hannah Montana, iCarly, Say What & Kid's Unlimited. We work with a lot of Nickelodeon & Disney shows and I want you (point to the kid) to come and do a little practice commercial on camera this Sunday...it's fun, it's complementary (to the kid) and if you have fun and like it you will get a chance to work on lots of shows throughout the year. Here's your directions, practice sample commercials...Mom/Dad, we're really busy right now so you bring them tomorrow--they're gonna love this! Here's your invitation. See you tomorrow!'

After signing documents (we were not given copies) we were told to meet at a hotel in San Rafael at 10:30am the next day, Saturday, Feb 14, 2009. At the hotel in San Rafael, the 20+ Talent Scouts and I were were each given a map, approximately 100 invitations and were asked to hand them out at the rate of 7-10 invitations per hour (that's 50-70 invitations per day).

DIRECTLY QUOTED from the invitations we handed out to parents and kids in malls today, Saturday, Feb 14, 2009:

'CONGRATULATIONS...The Entertainment P.R. Team with The P.R. Group is currently working with entertainment companies in helping them locate kids & teens who are interested in working in the entertainment industry...If you have children between the ages of 5 and 17 that have that star quality, Hollywood is here looking for you...(we) are looking for talented kids in the surrounding Bay Area for two new TV series; 'Kids Unlimited' and 'Say What?'... roles include starring parts, hundreds of supporting roles as well as work for over a thousand extras'

I was partnered up with a young women and single mothers (all looking like deer caught in headlights, myself included). We were handed maps, stacks of these invitations and ushered out to malls. After a few hours of approaching unsuspecting parents and their children, I couldn't help but think that something was very, very predatory about all this. I asked my partner how she felt about all this, and we took a moment to go and dig a little deeper online using the limited information we had about the company.

It turns out that dozens of complaints had been made about this company by parents, former employees, former Independent Contractor/Talent Scouts (like me) and even kids who were duped into their scheme. What these invitations don't mention is that after these 'screen tests', almost 100% of these kids & parents are invited back ('congratulations!') for a sales pitch where they are given the choice to buy a package for x thousands of dollars.

Of course parents have a choice to participate or not, but this company is feeding on the vanity of these kids, and the vulnerability of parents in a challenging economic climate.

Stop Be. Productions. Report them, fine them, and shut them down.

Predatory pawn
Bay Area, California

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