EXCLUSIVE: Casting director Billy DaMota has abruptly resigned from the Casting Society of America, which was reviewing his membership status because of controversial remarks and tweets he’s made about women. A knowledgeable source said that DaMota was recently sent a notice that his membership was under review, and that he resigned Wednesday before the CSA could move to expel him.
“I have no comment,” DaMota told Deadline. The CSA did not respond to requests for comment.
A CSA member since 1992, DaMota, best known for his 20 years of casting re-creation scenes for America’s Most Wanted, has been one of the leaders of the effort to get the Los Angeles City Attorney to crack down on his fellow casting directors who allegedly charge actors for auditioning at casting workshops. Twenty-five defendants – including 18 casting directors – have been charged, and five have entered either no contest or guilty pleas, although they all proclaim their innocence.
In August, 90 CSA members signed an open letter decrying the City Attorney’s “misguided” prosecutions of their fellow casting directors. A source says DaMota has told friends that he resigned in protest over the CSA’s support of the accused.
In August, a group of casting directors presented the CSA with recent tweets made by DaMota that in these post-Harvey Weinstein days don’t seem as funny as they were apparently intended.
On August 22, DaMota tweeted a link to a nude scene of actress Louise Linton – the wife of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin – from her 2016 film Intruder, with the snarky comment: “Um…NSFW…she’s wet and naked.” (NSFW means “Not Safe For Work” – Internet slang to mark links that contain nudity, sexuality or profanity.)
The CSA was also presented with a tweet from three years ago in which DaMota posted a spoof of a man with his front pockets turned out, with a caption that says: “I don’t have the $55 for your workshop, so can we just go back to the old days of trading sexual favors?”
DaMota’s accusers also gave the CSA a package of news clips dating back 20 years about a website he once ran that featured a tongue-in-cheek directory of websites in which he shamed women who take their clothes off for money.
“This is the online equivalent of women who don’t want to be bothered getting a mundane job, like being a secretary or waiting tables, and instead get a job as a stripper,” he said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle in 1998. “That’s what these are – online strippers.”
The CSA recently changed its bylaws to more clearly define how membership could be reviewed and members expelled. In the wake of the Weinstein revelations, it also put out a statement condemning “harassment in all forms,” urging members to say something if they see something.