LOS ANGELES (CN) – A man who runs a referral service for child models says the Screen Actors Guild defamed him by falsely accusing him of taking kickbacks to drum up business. Carl Carranza, the founder of plaintiff Scooter’s Kids, sued the SAG in Superior Court.
Carranza, whose company caters to young children and their parents, says Zino Macaluso, national director and senior counsel of agency relations for SAG, sent letters to SAG agents accusing them of violating Guild regulations by accepting gifts from parents Carranza referred to them.
As a result, nearly half of the SAG agents to whom Scooter’s Kids sent referrals have refused to accept any more referrals, the complaint states.
Carranza acknowledged that he suggests parents take along a “token gift” when meeting with agents for the first time – flowers, small plants, or gift cards, the complaint states. Carranza says such gifts are “customary under social usage,” and permitted by SAG rules.
Carranza claims SAG rules against kickbacks apply only to “members,” which his clients are not, on their first meeting with an agent.
Carranza claims that “In or about November 2007, Scooter’s learned that Macaluso (and through him, the Sag) was falsely accusing it of, among other things, soliciting and/or taking monetary ‘kickbacks’ from the SAG agents to whom it referred clients. Upon information and belief, defendants made these false accusations with the intent of forcing Scooter’s out of business.”
Carranza denied that, he says, and the matter apparently was resolved. But in August this year, he says, Macaluso and the SAG sent letters that “accused Scooter’s of using SAG agent’s names in its ‘advertising’ in order to ‘drum up business’ for itself and Scooter’s recommendation that its clients take a token gift to the initial meeting with the agent gives ‘the impression that it is somehow receiving an inappropriate “kickback” or referral for its affiliation.”
Carranza denies that; he says he has never disclosed the names of the agents with whom he has connections with until an agreement is made, and he does not use their name for advertising.
He says Scooter’s Kids concentrates on print advertising and commercials and is not a talent agency. Few of his referrals have appeared in motion pictures, he says.
Flashcast Companies dba Scooter’s Kids seeks damages for defamation, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and unfair business practices. He is represented by Don Lemmer of Glendale.