The ongoing dispute between casting directors on pilots and TV studios continues with no end in sight. As we first reported on Thursday, studios have not been able to sign deals with casting directors for the past couple of weeks over the issue of pay for casting assistants. While studios pay for casting directors and associates, casting directors in many cases have to foot the bill for an assistant, a non-union position not covered by the casting directors’ contract with AMPTP. Casting directors now insist that studios cover the cost for that, with the fate of 80+ broadcast pilots that have to be cast in the next 2 months at stake.
I hear the studios are still not budging. ABC Studios, which has received a number of early pilot orders over the past 2 weeks, has begun to cast them internally. Other studios are preparing to do the same. Over the past 48 hours, we also had the first deal with a casting director that closed without the assistant provision. Casting agency La Padura & Hart Casting, whose credits include the High School Musical franchise and such NBC series as Heroes and The Event, has signed on to work on the 20th Century Fox TV-produced NBC drama pilot Playboy. There are reportedly a number of deals with other casting directors on pilots that are closed but not signed by the casting directors since they don’t include assistant pay coverage.
Originally, I had heard that, because the film and TV casting directors are unionized under the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the teamsters are getting involved in the conflict. A casting director well plugged into the situation now tells me that “this is not an union issue, it’s an individual issue, it’s an individual negotiation between casting directors and studios in order for the casting directors to get the staff they need to meet the demands of studios and networks. Every other department gets adequate staffing to do the job they were hired to do with the exception of the casting department.”
In the past, studios have paid for assistants “when deemed necessary,” the source continued. With growing casts and increasing competition, “It has now become necessary on every pilot.”Since it’s not an union issue but an individual choice for each casting director, there is no mandate for the casting directors to stick together. “But I think the casting directors are going to hold strong,” the source said.