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COMPANY TOWN

Managers Bill to Get Tighter Focus

April 01, 1999|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hollywood's talent managers, who have been wringing their hands over a pending bill in Sacramento that would regulate them in the same way the state now regulates agents, won't have to worry for now.

Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) said she plans to amend a bill she has introduced so that it more narrowly targets unscrupulous managers who prey on aspiring actors who can't afford an agent.

The larger issue of whether all managers, including those who represent top Hollywood stars, should be regulated will be tabled for now, she said.

Managers, who generally guide performers' careers, are currently prohibited from procuring work for clients, and agents can't do things that managers are allowed to do, such as produce films.

Kuehl's bill was an outgrowth of complaints by law enforcement officials in Los Angeles that some managers were exploiting young actors and the parents of child actors by making unrealistic promises and charging fees to help launch careers.

But the bill inadvertently stirred a hornet's nest throughout the entertainment industry because of some additional proposals. These included one to amend the state labor and employment code to require all managers, who are now largely unregulated, to get a license, post a bond and record their agreements with artists.

One reason the bill touched such a hot button is because it comes at a time when the debate over the role of managers in Hollywood is growing--in part because of the entry of former top agent Michael Ovitz into the management business.

Agents have been complaining that managers are acting as de facto agents while enjoying a number of the privileges agents don't have.

Kuehl said her bill will retain provisions that crack down on fraud among managers and require managers charging fees upfront to enter into contracts allowing for refunds.

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