There is a sense of cautious optimism in the TV casting circles this evening that the stalemate over hiring outside casting directors for pilots might come to an end tomorrow. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the TV studios, has called a meeting with representatives of the casting directors for midday tomorrow. At the heart of the problem is casting directors’ request to get “adequate staffing” or that studios pay for an assistant in addition to the casting director and casting associate on every pilot, something that studios have been balking at. Since this is not an union issue and it is not covered by the casting directors’ basic agreement with the studios, there is nothing to negotiate at the meeting tomorrow, a casting director source stressed. “We are going to listen to what they have to say and are hoping to come to some type of understanding of each other’s needs,” the source said. Casting directors have said that hiring an assistant has now become necessary on every pilot, not just in some cases as the studios have contended.
There has been little movement on both sides since my last story on the issue on Saturday. Michael Patrick King’s NBC/WBTV drama pilot closed a deal with a casting director that includes an assistant, while ABC Studios released the first pilot breakdown that identified it as being cast internally, Shonda Rhimes’ untitled fixer drama. (ABC Studios was the first TV studio to opt to start casting pilots internally in light of the ongoing standoff with casting directors.) The news in my Saturday story that La Padura & Hart Casting has become the first casting agency to sign for a pilot without an extra assistant provision created quiet a stir in the comments’ section, including some pointed remarks toward the agency. In response to that, one of La Padura/Hart principals, Jason La Padura, explained the duo’s position in a comment. Here is what he wrote: (more…)